A Bible Study written and produced entirely ON LOCATION with God the Son…
A Bible Study Guide on Mark 7:31-37 (ESV)
Part One: Confessing The Incarnation, God on Location for You…
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.
A. Where is God now? The Gospel seems rather preoccupied with precise places where Jesus goes and what exactly he is doing there. We believe the Almighty God is omnipresent, present everywhere! (see Psalm 139:5-10)
B.God is present everywhere, but not always in the same way. Both the Old and New Testament Scriptures explicitly teach and confront us with a marvelous mystery (see 1 Kings 8:27-30). That same God who is present everywhere happily proves to be present differently in particular places. He is omnipresent, but performs His saving works only at certain times in specific sites. Christianity is a historical religion. Our God manifests His presence in real places that actually exist. According to the Scriptures, God acts throughout redemptive history to save us.
C.Not only omnipresent, but God is locally present in the body of Jesus. With the Nicene Creed, Lutherans boldly confess our Lord’s whereabouts: “Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures…”
D.The Gospel proclaims our Lord Jesus has a LOCATION. God shows us in the Gospel there are specific places where He is present and at work to save and serve His people. Likewise there are other places where He is present and works differently, in ways utterly unseen and unknown to us. His unknown ways entertain imaginations and lead many into godless speculations. Speculation offers only false comfort for us. If we refuse or avoid the very places where He tells us to come meet Him, what reasonable hope do we have of finding Him helpful for us elsewhere? Speculation leads to idolatry, fashioning god in our own image. Faith trusts His Word, looks for Him where His Word says to look and finds Him where the Word says He wants to be found!
E.We ought not seek God’s help where He has not promised to deliver it. To do so creates a figment of God according to our own imagination, rather than confessing and trusting the God who was made flesh to dwell among us (see Isaiah 65:1-2). The Incarnation is a ‘scandal of particularly!’ Sometimes, we don’t want a God who gets so specific. We can never rob Christ of His resurrected body! He has ears and lips like we do. Jesus talks our language (see Luke 24:36-42, John 20:26-27) Let our ears “be opened!” Hear him in the places He speaks! Meet Him in the places He presently proclaims He dwells among us full of grace and truth!
F.This reminds us too, that we human beings also have a location. Jesus meets our GPS positioned bodies in places particular for you! While God is present everywhere, He meets us to help lowly located sinners, locally embodied creatures in this physical world. Christ is robbed of His glory whenever any ignores or denies his true location. “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30). Notice our Lord’s exact location when He preaches these words: (see Matthew 11:1,20-28). Can you find these places on the map below?
G.Where in the world is Jesus? Mark 7:31 also records these real places in the physical world where the the Son of God in the flesh was to be found. Notice those locations (cities) and regions as more than minor story details. They also teach us to believe that our Lord deals with us in specific places at specific times, in a manner He is not found elsewhere. “All Scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:15-17). From Scripture, we learn to take God’s location seriously–as something salvific He does for us!
H.Note the locality and physicality of our Lord’s work here:
32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.
I.How did this man get to where Jesus was? (Verse 32)
THEY_________________ TO HIM A MAN WHO WAS DEAF…
J.What did they ask Jesus to do?
THEY_________________ HIM TO_________________________
K.Intercession and His Divine intervention. Passages like this one in the Gospel described how some certain people intervened on behalf of particular others for Jesus to help. But is this kind of thing actually prescribed for us, generally? Does Scripture teach us to “do this”?
Should we Christians pray for one another? Yes or No
Should we bring others to where Jesus presently helps? Yes or No
Do we expect and believe Christ intervenes by His means? Yes or No
(consider our Lutheran confession of faith:)
1] That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, 2] the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 3] the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake.
4] They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works.
Part Two: That was THEN, this is Now: How does God Work Today?
L.In Mark 7, in the Gospel, Jesus speaks; His Word brings restorative change. But this was before the resurrection, before His ascension to the right hand of the Father. Does Jesus continue to open eyes and ears to receive His help after the resurrection? After the Ascension?
34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
Consider these post-resurrection passages and questions:
M.Was Jesus ever present and very near, but unknown? Yes or No
N.How was the Lord’s presence made known?__________________
O.To what activities does the true apostolic Church still devote itself?
(see Acts 2:42-47)
P.What promise did Jesus make at His Ascension day?
Part Three: The ‘Messianic Secret’ is made Known
36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
R.These miracles proclaim the Son of God took on location for us, being born in a manger. The Gospel demonstrates the Son of God is also Lord over His flesh and blood creatures, exercising His power to heal and to save. His resurrection shows Jesus retains his physical body, manifesting himself also after the resurrection, especially by His Word and His Supper. Thus He promised His abiding presence in specific locations. Ascended now to God’s right hand, He holds the vocation–the position, the ruling office of “All authority in heaven and on earth.”
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