Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:
‘Spiritual Perception of Things Unseen’
© July 26, 2015 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship: – Responsive Reading #620: The Church (Matthew 16; Ephesians 5 and 2; 1 Corinthians 12; Colossians 1)
Opening Hymn #350: Open my Eyes, That I May See, Choruses
Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings;
Today’s Scriptures: Mark 8:14-30 and John 6:25-59
Let us pray…
Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Praise and Worship Service, in the heart of Toronto, for the last Sunday of July. Our lesson today is entitled, Spiritual Perception of Things Unseen, where we will examine how the Holy Spirit helps us to better understand our perceptions of things seen and perceived.
On the front of today’s Bulletin is a graphic box containing a verse from 1 Corinthians 1:18 – New King James Version (NKJV), subtitled: Christ the Power and Wisdom of God.
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
This brings us to the first of today’s Scripture verses, which describes the events that took place after Jesus had fed the four thousand, described in the beginning of Mark 8 and Matthew 15. Our study will look at Mark’s account whereby the Pharisees came to Jesus, demanding to see a sign from heaven, Mark 8:11-13 (ESV):
The Pharisees Demand a Sign
11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.
Giving a sign upon the demand of the Pharisees would be putting God to the test and in effect committing a sin against God. Jesus refused the demand from the Pharisees just before departing in a boat. However this encounter with their demand offered the Lord an opportunity to warn his disciples, which we see in the next segment of Mark 8, Mark 8:14-21 (ESV):
The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod
14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”[a] 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Jesus warns the disciples when he exhorts them in verse 15: 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
However the disciples miss the point by literally discussing bread left over from the Feeding of the Four Thousand. The Lord the asks them: 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?
So what is meant by Lord, when he warns his disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees and of King Herod? For help in understanding, let us check our Wikibits:
What does leaven represent in the Scripture?
(From “Let Us Reason Ministries”)
When something is used consistently and almost unanimously in Scripture the same way we must conclude, unless there is some obvious deviation of its consistent use that it is the same. This is true for symbols, which leaven is. In the Old Testament leaven is consistently used to represent sin, what is false and evil…In the New Testament, leaven was used to represent Pharisees false teaching, of the unbelief of the Sadducees by Christ (Matthew 16:6-12; Mark 8:14-21).
Paul warns that “A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Get rid of it.
We proclaim Christ was sinless by the elements we take that represent Him. Paul describes the unleavened bread as fulfilled in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). The fact that Jesus held up matzah (unleavened bread) at the last Passover supper, saying “take and eat this is my body,” this bread was required to have no leaven in it, explaining he was without sin. The wafer was made with no leaven in it, because leaven is a symbol of sin.
Like this morning’s Opening Hymn #350: Open my Eyes, That I May See, the Lord questions whether the disciples perceive or understand the power behind the miracle, as well as focusing on the Devine Miracle. Their conversation should be about how Jesus was able to multiply the bread to feed multitudes of people on two occasions.
19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Again, Jesus questions the understanding of disciples with respect to the two miracles.
This brings us to the next part of the passage, where Jesus heals a blind man, Mark 8:22-26 (ESV):
Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus[b] laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
Jesus had to heal the man in two stages, where the man initially mistakes people in the distance for trees. Jesus laid his hands on the man a second time, where the vision is fully restored. Describing the man’s vision as being restored does indicate that the man did have vision which was lost and now is fully restored.
Many decades ago, when I was a fourth grade student in Mackey School near San Antonio, Texas, I was asked by my teacher why I had not bothered to write down the Geography assignment that she had written on the blackboard. My reply to the teacher was: “What assignment?” As I sat at the back of the classroom, I could not read the writing, which an eye test by the school nurse confirmed.
Within two weeks a pair of eyeglasses has corrected my vision and markedly improved my marks, as I was now able to see and complete my homework assignments.
The improvement with my glasses was amazing, I was able to identify the individual leafs on the trees, where before my nearsighted vision perceived tree leafs as a unified clump of green growth. Like the blind man, when he was first healed, mistaking people in the distance for trees, my vision was faulty, until I wore corrective lenses. After the Lord performed the healing a second time, the man’s vision was restored and correct.
The Holy Spirit acts like eyeglasses for the soul, providing a true clarity to the perception of what we observe. This perception allows us to discern and understand what we see and what we read in His Word. The key to allowing the Spirit’s help to our perception is our faith and trust in His Holy Spirit.
The third key point from Mark 8, verses 27-30, where Jesus questions his disciples again about the significance of his recent miracles, prompting them to indicate who do they think he is?- Mark 8:27-30 (ESV):
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
Footnotes: a. Mark 8:15 Some manuscripts the Herodians b. Mark 8:25 Greek he
Only Peter correctly identifies the Lord, and in doing so the disciple reveals the true purpose of the miracles, which is pointing Jesus as being the Christ, the promised Saviour.
We should note that with both the healed blind man and the disciples, Jesus instructs these witnesses to not tell anyone, as his appointed time had not yet arrived.
Our next Scripture passage, describes another case of misperception from members of the multitude who had been fed by the Lord seek out Jesus. Like the Pharisees, the disciples in the boat, and the blind man after his first healing, the crowd misses the point of the miracles and the Lord tries to describe what bread the people should be pursuing, John 6:25-59 (ESV):
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread[a] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus[b] said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
Footnotes: a. John 6:58 Greek lacks the bread b. John 6:59 Greek He
Unlike food for the body that is provided by bread, Jesus, the Son of Man provided us with the Bread of Life, for the salvation of our souls, bringing us redemption from sin and the reward of eternal life.
It is by the grace and love of God, through the sacrifice of Jesus, and with the help of the gifted Holy Spirit, that we may perceive and understand the immortal, invisible rewards God provides us, through His infinite wisdom.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #35: Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
Benediction – (1 Timothy 1:17): To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.