Getting Away from Miracles to Experience Christ (Mark 8:10-12)
Getting Away from it All to Experience Christ: Part 5
Mark 7 and 8 unveils some very basic principles of pursuing a genuine spiritual life in Christ. They all involve a common theme—getting away from our daily routine to experience the reality of Christ. Are you ready? So far the word of God has shown us in this section how to be free from religious traditions, our tribalistic tendencies, the religious crowd, and even our limitations. Now we will see how even miracles from God can distract us from Christ Himself.
Two Ways to Know God
There are two ways to know God. One is outwardly. The other is inwardly. To experience more of Christ, the inward experience is needed more. Consider the next part of this section in Mark:
"The Pharisees came out and began to question him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, and testing him. He sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Most certainly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mark 8:11-12)
When people ask God for signs, it makes Him sigh in His spirit. He is deeply grieved by this superficial attitude. It is true that signs and miracles are one way to know God is real. Jesus performed many miracles, and so did His apostles. They served to confirm His reality (Mark 16:17; Acts 2:22; 15:12). But Jesus did not trust them, for people tend to want the miracles, but not the Person behind the miracle.
In John 2, it says that "many believed in his name, observing his signs which he did. But Jesus didn’t trust himself to them, because he knew everyone, and because he didn’t need for anyone to testify concerning man; for he himself knew what was in man." (v 23-25). From the context we can see that while the signs should have brought people to a deeper realization and hunger for God Himself, the superficial crowds just wanted entertainment and physical manifestations. The beginning of John 3, which continues the thought, says "Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to him by night..." In other words, Nicodemus was different. He wasn't seeking miracles. He had a hunger for the deeper reality of Christ. Only to this man, not the crowds, did Jesus reveal the mystery of the second birth.
In John 6, after feeding a huge crowd with free food, Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” Jesus' intention was that they would realize that He is the true Bread of Life, who can be a spiritual source of nourishment that can transform our soul. Instead, the crowd was using Jesus to get free stuff. This grieves Him.
Seeking God Himself
Many want a "no responsibility God," one with all benefits and no costs. We may want a God who will serve us, not one that demands our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, and who demands we deny our own soul life too (Matt 16:23-28; 22:37-38). We may want a God who accepts us as we are --- and He does (Matt 11:28-30). But we may not want a God who desires to transform us into His own image, calling us to forsake our old life of sin and culture and religion, and live by Him alone (Rom 8:28-30; 12:1-2). The desire for signs and miracles is related to this outward view of God, treating Jesus like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, here to deliver a sign or miracle at our request.
May we heed the word from Hebrews:
“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me,
And saw My works for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with this generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they did not know My ways’" (Heb 3:7-10)
His Ways vs His Works
Knowing Jesus outwardly is to see His works. But His desire is for us to know His ways, which relate to a deeper revelation of who He is. His works should lead us to knowing His ways--ideally. Unfortunately, it is easy to stop with just knowing His works. Just listen to the typical prayers we pray. The most common prayers are those for the Lord to help us outwardly with our health and finances. Surely we should pray and petition for all of our concerns (1 Pet 5:7; Philip 4:6-7). But we often stop there, not praying the deeper prayers to know and gain Christ Himself, such as:
"...that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead..." (Philip 3:10-11)
"that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth, and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph 3:16-19)
Not long ago a very popular book was written based on the prayer of Jabez. It is easy to take such a prayer and turn it into a selfish view of "God for me." Another extremely popular book is the "Purpose Driven Life." While these books have helped millions come closer to the Lord, it is easy to come away with a view of God as one who is there to fulfill my purpose and desires, rather than realizing I am here to fulfill His. The key question is not "what is God's will for my life" but rather "what is God's will?" These are two very different questions. One is self-focused; the other is God focused.
I hope we all desire such a revelation of Him. In Luke 11, Jesus said that the only sign given to us would be the sign of Jonah, who was in the whale three days. This speaks of the resurrection of Christ, and the inward power of Jesus, who today can make our inner being alive, and transform us into His image. This is the only sign worth asking for.
New Song: Seeking His Delight, Not Ours
- Hymn: Recall how David swore
Christian hymns and spiritual songs with wonderful truths and music.}
Part 6: Getting Away From Bad Teachings
- Getting Away from Bad Teachings to Experience Christ
Mark 7 an 8 unveils some very basic principles of pursuing a genuine spiritual life in Christ. They all involve a common theme—getting away from our daily routine to experience Christ. In this section we see the importance of healthy nourishing teach