Life-Study of Markby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The Gospel of Mark was written in a progressive way. In Mark we have a record that is according to the sequence of events that took place in the life of the Lord Jesus. We believe that it was according to God’s sovereignty that everything that happened in the Lord’s life took place in a particular order and in a progressive way.
In 6:45-52 we have a record of the Lord’s walking on the sea. Then in 6:53-56 we have an account of the Lord’s healing everywhere. The situation at that time was wonderful. The Lord and His disciples had crossed over the stormy sea, and people everywhere were enjoying His healing.
Then, all of a sudden, certain religious “spies,” certain Pharisees and scribes, “gathered together to Him when they had come from Jerusalem” (7:1). These learned ones, leaders in the Jewish religion, came to the Lord purposely to spy Him out. Jerusalem was far to the south, and the Lord Jesus was in the north, in Galilee. Nevertheless, the Pharisees and scribes came all this way in order to observe what the Lord Jesus was doing.
Mark 7:2 says that the Pharisees and scribes who came to spy on the Lord Jesus saw “some of His disciples eating bread with unclean hands, that is, unwashed.” Verses 3 and 4 explain that the Pharisees, holding the tradition of the elders, do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands. When they come from the market places, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves.
According to verse 5, the Pharisees and scribes questioned the Lord Jesus: “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unclean hands?” The word “elders” here, as in verse 3, refers to the ancients, to people of previous generations. The Pharisees and scribes thought that they had ground to criticize the Lord, because His disciples were practicing something that was contrary to the tradition the Jews had received from their forefathers.
As we read this Gospel, it may seem that what is recorded in 6:45—7:23 is merely a story. In this portion we are told how the Lord Jesus passed through the stormy sea, how He healed many people, and how He was questioned by the Pharisees and scribes. However, if we look to the Lord for His enlightenment concerning this section of Mark, we shall realize that, by the time of chapter seven, there was the need for the Lord to deal with man’s inward condition. The things that took place before chapter seven are related to man’s outward situation, not to his inward condition. The gospel, however, is for our entire being. The problem of man’s inward condition is much more serious than that of his outward situation. Actually, our inward condition is the root of all problems.
In the first six chapters of the Gospel of Mark many things are covered. But thus far nothing has touched the inward condition of fallen mankind. Now in chapter seven the questioning of the Lord by the Pharisees and scribes gave Him the opportunity to speak concerning man’s inward situation. The intention of the Pharisees and scribes was to condemn the Slave-Savior. But they were used by God in His sovereignty. Without them, the Lord may not have had the opportunity to talk about man’s inward condition.
The Pharisees and scribes certainly did not have any intention to touch the inward situation of man. They were concerned with outward formality, with outward washing and cleansing. They were not interested in anything of the inward condition of man. Nevertheless, they gave the Lord an excellent opportunity and even opened the way for Him to unveil man’s inward condition. The Lord Jesus exposed man’s inward situation not only to the Pharisees and scribes, but also to the crowd and especially to His disciples (v. 17).
In 7:1-23 we have three groups of people: the entire crowd, including the Pharisees and scribes; a portion of the crowd (v. 14), and the Lord’s disciples, His intimate followers. Verse 17 says, “And when He entered into a house from the crowd, His disciples questioned Him.” Then the Lord unveiled to them in a full way man’s inward condition. Eventually it was the Lord’s intimate followers who received the benefit. They came to see clearly not only man’s outward situation, but also man’s inward condition.
As a divine-human Person, the Lord Jesus heals man’s situation. This healing takes care not only of our outward sickness, but especially of our inward sickness. Concerning this, in chapter seven of the Gospel of Mark we have an important step in the Slave-Savior’s gospel service. As we have seen, before chapter seven the Lord’s gospel service was concerned with man’s outward situation. But the Pharisees and scribes, as opposers, provided the Lord an excellent opportunity to touch the inward condition of fallen man.
In chapter six we see opposition and rejection. This chapter records the martyrdom of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Slave-Savior, a martyrdom that was motivated by the hatred of Herodias for John. At the end of this chapter, the Lord crossed the sea and then came into a country where the people received His healing. The Lord’s disciples must have been happy and excited over what was happening. Wherever the Lord went, He was welcomed and people were healed. If we had been among the followers of the Slave-Savior at that time, we certainly would have been happy about the situation.
We may say that the Pharisees and scribes in chapter seven were professional opposers. Probably before they came down from Jerusalem to the place where the Lord Jesus was, they were trained to spy on Him in order to have some ground to arrest Him and put Him to death. The Pharisees and scribes may have said to one another, “This one is a devil, and we must get rid of him. We must find something to convince the Roman government to put this man to death.” These trained, professional spies thought they had ground to accuse the Lord Jesus in the matter of eating with unwashed hands. Actually, they simply opened up the way for Him to speak concerning the condition of man’s heart.
We may compare the Lord Jesus in chapter seven to a surgeon operating on a patient. We may also say that the professional opposers prepared the “surgery room” for the Lord’s “operation.” Then He opened up man’s heart and exposed its inward condition.
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