Mark 12:14 “Master, we know that Thou art true, and carest for no man.”
Luke 10:40 “Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister left me to serve alone?”
Mark 4:38 “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?”
1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.”
There may be times when we come to a point in our lives when we doubt our Saviour’s care. While we understand that He has died for us and purchased us at a great price, yet circumstances can and do arise that make us question His love. We are not unique in this, for those who were closest to Him also had times when they doubted the love of their Saviour; however, we hope to show that their doubts were without foundation. There are three occasions where the Saviour’s care was brought into question, and we will examine each in the following order. First, in Mark 12 we have a statement of flattery, in Luke 10 we have a question borne of frustration and in Mark 4 we have a question borne of fear.
Mark 12:14 – Flattery
The Pharisees and Herodians in this instance were attempting to catch, or snare, the Lord in His words, and towards this end they attempted to flatter Him. In this flattery they exposed their snare, as the Lord knew, for “A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.” Furthermore, what they thought to be a compliment, was to the Saviour an insult. This is generally the way. When worldlings presume to flatter, often they insult, and when they intend to insult, they often, unknowingly, state the truth. For example, when the Pharisees sneered, “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them,” they stated a glorious truth which we rejoice in to this day. Likewise, when the chief priests at the cross mocked, “He saved others: himself he cannot save”, we understand this to be true, for if he were to save us, he must not save himself. This was the great truth of the garden of Gethsemane: “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, Thy will be done.”
While the Pharisees and Herodians possibly meant to say that since the Lord taught the truth regardless of the opinions of man, He therefore cared for no man, it is in the implication of these words that we are interested. That is, that the Lord was uncaring. These men would ascribe to the Lord the same characteristics as those of the unjust judge of Luke 18 who “feared not God, nor regardeth man.” It should not be surprising to us that the world would doubt His care, that the world would see Him as the unjust judge and that they would even see this as complimentary. It should, however, be a surprise to us that those who were closest to Him on this earth could doubt His care. In the next two passages we will see that He does truly care, both about the mundane and the essential.
Luke 10:40 – Frustration
In Luke 10:38-42, we have an example of His care for the mundane. Martha has the great honour of having the Lord in her house, and she is concerned that everything be just right. As any sister would know, this requires great attention to detail to ensure that everything is in its place and that the meal is prepared. There is no doubt also that this preparation was being done out of her love for the Lord. However in the flurry of activity, she notices that her sister is no longer helping, but rather is now at the feet of the Saviour. Martha possibly wonders if she is not appreciated and therefore draws attention to the work she is doing. She implies that since there is so much to do she needs the help of her sister. There would be few of us that have not felt the same way as Martha, feeling sorry for ourselves that we have been left alone to do some task. Often the difference between ourselves and Martha is that rather than going to the Lord, we simply sulk. Possibly Martha was sulking also, though, while we find fault with her, at least she did go to the Lord with her concerns.
Martha in her frustration identifies two reasons for her problem: first she blames the Lord and secondly she blames her sister. Her reasoning is that the Lord does not care and her sister has left her alone. The answer of the Lord to this sudden interruption shows to us the great care He has for His overwrought servant. There are seven instances in the Scriptures when God addresses a person by repeating his or, as in this case, her name. In each case, God shows both the urgency of the matter and His great care for those being addressed. We feel the rebuke here when the Saviour says, “Martha, Martha.” The Lord then goes on to gently explain to her what she already knew, that is, that her sister had chosen that good part which would not be taken away from her. This is not to say that what Martha was doing was not needful; in fact, in Acts 6:2-3, we see the high standard of those who would wait on tables, but rather that her attitude toward her service was wrong.
The next time we read of Martha, after the raising of her brother from the dead, she is again serving, but this time it is Judas, not Martha, who fails to see that Mary has chosen the good part (John 12:2). On this occasion it is written, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus” (v 5). The order of names is significant. We would suggest that Martha had come to understand that “godliness with contentment is great gain.”
It is difficult to apply the above to our own circumstances. It seems that when there is the potential for the saints to be blessed through a conference, Bible readings or a gospel series there is equal potential for strife between brethren or sisters. When preparations are being made for these meetings and as they continue, we need Marthas amongst us as well as Marys. It is possible, however, for us to make things more tolerable for our Marthas by remembering that because some Marthas are on hall duty, because someone is cooking, and because someone is cleaning, we can enjoy the ministry of the Word. Those of us with children should take extra care to see that after we have enjoyed a meeting, we clean up the bits of note paper, candy wrappers, etc before we leave our seats. A word of encouragement or a helping hand will be recognized by the One we all serve.
Mark 4:38 – Fear
In Mark 4:35-41, we have an example of the other extreme: His care about what is essential. While this storm has been rightly compared to the storms of life through which Christians often pass, it can also be looked at from a different perspective. It is clear that the raging sea often speaks to us of the world, the unregenerate nations, and that the possibility of being swamped by the world around us is something to guard against. For example, Dr. Heading, in Matthew, What the Bible Teaches, notes that, “Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled” (Psa 46:3), is interpreted as the raging of the heathen (v 6). Also Dr. Heading notes, “The winds speak of a Satan-like power over the nations, for Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2).”
The disciples here find themselves in great peril. They had followed the Lord’s direction to “pass over to the other side”, but this had not preserved them from the onslaught of Satan. Indeed, they feared that they were in danger of being shipwrecked. While it is true that the ship could not go to the bottom so long as the Saviour was on board, we can make an application here. The Apostle Paul was concerned that if he did not keep his body under subjection there was the danger that even though he had preached to others, he might be castaway. While the term “castaway” has the thought of being disapproved, it also refers to one who has survived a shipwreck, one who has lost everything save his life. Paul expresses a similar thought to Timothy when he speaks of “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away conceming faith have made shipwreck.” The experienced fishermen among the disciples no doubt recognized the severity of the situation. They were not men who would take the sea for granted. While they possibly tried first to bring the ship safely to shore, they soon realized the sinister nature of this storm, the intensity of which would be unknown to them. At this point their only resource was the One who was asleep in the bow of the ship.
We can contrast this attitude with that of another who faced a storm in his life with marked difference from the men we are considering here. While the disciples saw the storm and understood the significance of it, Jonah was fast asleep in the hold of the ship. It is the unsaved captain who rebukes Jonah with these words, “What meanest thou, O Sleeper? Arise call upon thy God…” A question we should ask is, how do we face temptations? Are we like Jonah, or the five wise virgins, asleep amongst our unbelieving companions, or do we take heed to the exhortation of Peter, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet 5:8)? The mass mehia of the world, the television, the radio, the magazines and the newspaper will lull us to sleep so that we do not see the danger of being shipwrecked until it is too late. Others among us see the danger of the storm and in fear and trembling turn to the One who can calm the storm. Are we asleep or awake? “And that knowing the time that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer then when we first believed” (Rom 13:11).
Regardless of how we face temptation, there is the possibility that we, like the disciples, may make the mistake of thinking that the Lord does not care whether we perish or go on well in our Christian life. Clearly this is not the case. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt 10:29-31).
The Lord answers the disciples question by first calming the storm and then asks, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Not only does He care, but He marvels that we would ever doubt this care.
1 Peter 5:7 – Faith
The Christian can have many cares. In some cases we may feel that they are too trivial to bother the Lord with, and in other cases we may feel that in our own power we will fight the storm, that we can stand alone against the temptations of the world. Both of these attitudes are wrong and therefore Peter, who from experience would know better than the rest, exhorts us to continue in our Christian pathway, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you” (1 Pet 5:7).