Companionship With Christ

Mark 1:28-37; Mark 3:18-19  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The next thing we find in the gospel narrative, as we pursue Peter’s history, is that the Lord enters his house at a most opportune juncture. He comes out of the synagogue, where He had just been casting an unclean spirit out of a man, and forthwith (a characteristic word of Mark’s gospel) He goes to Peter’s house, and “Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever,” and they tell Him of her. It was most natural that they should tell the Lord of the sick woman, and He heals her with a word.
Now, it has often been taught that a man must remain unmarried in order to fully follow the Lord; but here we learn that Simon was a married man, and he was a man who had affections large enough to take in his wife’s mother, not only into his heart but into his house. We live in a day when mothers-in-law are often at a discount; not so here, and God has not recorded this in the pages of His Word for nothing.
I have no doubt Peter’s wife was in a tremor that day. Her mother, possibly (for we do not read of children) the dearest object, save her husband, that she had in the world, lay sick of a fever. Another gospel (Luke 4:3838And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. (Luke 4:38)) says, she was “taken with a great fever.” But Jesus “stood over her, and rebuked the fever, and it left her;” and He “took her by the hand, and lifted her up,” and “she ministered unto them,” instead of being ministered to. She was a useful mother-in-law that.
Do you think it was by chance that the Lord went there that day? I believe not. If we go back a few days in Peter’s history, we remember that he had given up all to follow the Lord; and having abandoned his earthly calling so to do, it is quite possible that his wife might have felt somewhat anxious as to ways and means, and may have thought, if she did not say, “How are we now to be cared for and supported?” The Lord comes into her house — her home; takes her mother by the hand, and heals her with a word; and as the loving daughter sees the mother healed and restored, she must have felt quite assured as to the wisdom of her husband’s action in fully following the Lord. And I doubt not, before Peter left again to accompany his Master in His labors, he got a word of this sort from his wife, “You follow Him fully, Simon; I see well you are on the right track; He has the heart and the power to care for us in all things.”
This scene is so like the Lord. He ever loves to put His servants at rest at home, as well as to set them free to follow Him. It is sweet to think that He has His eye on the ofttimes solitary wife at home, with her cares and burdens, while the husband, called to labor in public, is frequently and necessarily away. Ye wives of evangelists, and other servants of the Lord, note how the Lord thinks of you!
Passing on now to the third chapter of Mark, we find the special call which Peter received of the Lord. After a night spent in prayer (see Luke 6:1212And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)), the Lord selects those who should be His companions in His pilgrim pathway here. We read, “He ordained twelve, that THEY SHOULD BE WITH HIM.” I know nothing more blessed than that!
People think it is a wonderful thing to be saved, to escape the damnation of hell — a wonderful thing to go to heaven; and so it is. But to go to heaven in Scripture, is always to be with a Person. “Absent from the body, present with the Lord” — “to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better” — is the language of Scripture.
To be with Him, to enjoy companionship with the Lord Jesus Christ, is what God calls us to; and here these men, in a very special way, were called to be with Him. Have you been called to be with Him, my reader? You are not called to be an apostle, but the eternity of a Christian is to be with Jesus. But for you, my unconverted friend, what is your eternity? To be with Jesus? Alas! you do not know him. To be in glory? You have no title to it! Your future is very different. I fear there will fall on your ears a sadly solemn word, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Perhaps you say, I do not believe God ever made hell for man. Nor do I. The Lord Jesus says it was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:4141Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:41)). But some men are such fools they prefer the company of the devil and his angels to the company of Christ. See where you stand, my unconverted reader, and think of the contrast between your portion and that of the true follower of Jesus.
“He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him.” “Ah! but,” you say, “one was a traitor.” Well, do not you be a traitor! God help you, and me too, not to be traitors] Judas’s history has its lessons for all of us. It is like a beacon light put on a dangerous coast, to keep the watchful mariner off the sunken rocks — to teach our souls to be in no wise like him.
In this place, again (Mark 3:1616And Simon he surnamed Peter; (Mark 3:16)), you get Simon’s new name emphasized, and in all the gospels it is so. His name always comes first on the list (see Matt. 10:22Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; (Matthew 10:2); Mark 3:1616And Simon he surnamed Peter; (Mark 3:16); Luke 6:1414Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, (Luke 6:14); John 21:22There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. (John 21:2)); not that he had any authority over his brethren, or was made a sort of primate, as Rome would fain teach us. It was his natural fervor, and warm-hearted impulsive earnestness, that put him always in the front rank. If there be a query, Peter most usually puts it; if it be a confession of who the Lord is, Peter is the spokesman. I grant you his vary impulsiveness drew him ofttimes into danger, and ended in his denying his Lord at a later date; but still Peter’s is a wonderful history of devotion to the Lord, and where he failed, the Lord, in infinite wisdom and faithfulness, tells us about it, and puts him too before us as another beacon light, lest our small barks should also be stranded on the selfsame rocks that damaged his.
Nothing but devotion of heart to Christ personally will do for us. A mere creed is of no value whatever. Unless there be affection of heart that puts us near Himself, and, if we have got away, leads us back to Him as quickly as possible, our confession of Him is valueless to us, and nauseous to Him. Peter learned a blessed lesson at this point of his history, namely, The Lord wants me to be with Him — He wants my company. Have you learned yet, dear reader, that the Lord loves your companionship, and desires to have your affections?
But besides the thought of companionship, there was another purpose in the Lord’s mind as He drew the twelve around Him. Luke’s record of the event runs thus: “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named Apostles; Simon (whom he also named Peter)” (Luke 6:12-1412And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, (Luke 6:12‑14)). Turning to Mark we read, “And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils. And Simon He surnamed Peter” (Mark 3:14-1614And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: 16And Simon he surnamed Peter; (Mark 3:14‑16)).
This is intensely interesting. Notice the prelude to the selection. He, who was Lord of all, and knew all, “continued all night in prayer to God” before He selects His companions, and ordains His apostles. What a lesson to us all of dependence on God. This is only recorded by Luke, who gives us the pathway of the perfectly dependent man. We are not surprised, therefore, though deeply instructed thereby, to find the Lord bowed in prayer seven times in that gospel (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18-29; 11:1; 22:4121Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, (Luke 3:21)
16And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed. (Luke 5:16)
12And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)
18And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? 19They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. 20He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. 21And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; 22Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 23And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. 27But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. 28And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. (Luke 9:18‑29)
1And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. (Luke 11:1)
41And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, (Luke 22:41)
). Each occasion has its own peculiar lesson for our hearts.
Here then we get Simon’s new name (Peter) confirmed, his apostolic call declared, and at the same time we receive instruction as to the meaning of the term “apostle.” Jesus so named the twelve, Luke tells us; and Mark adds the explanation, “that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.” How comprehensive is apostolic work — to preach God, to heal man, and to defeat the devil. No wonder Satan did his best to trip up the most prominent of the band, and gladly entered into the meanest, who at best was but a “thief” and a “devil,” in order by the one to dishonor, and by the other to get rid of, their blessed lowly Master!
The reader is referred to Matthew 10 and Luke 9 for the actual moment when the Lord conferred on Peter, and the twelve, the power here spoken of, and sent thorn on their joyful mission; from which we may also see them returning in Mark 6:3030And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. (Mark 6:30), and reporting to their Master “both what they had done, and what they had taught.” How He appreciated, and entered into the toil, connected with their service, is seen in what follows, as He says, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.” Blessed Master! How well does He know how to equip, and send out His servants, and how to care for and refresh them, when they came back, whether returning elated with success, as in this instance, or depressed by difficulties, as has often been the ease with His less highly gifted, but not less deeply loved servants of later days.
Now let us go on Luke 8 for a moment. There is a remarkable scene here, and again Peter comes to the front (Luke 8:41-5641And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: 42For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him. 43And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. 45And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 46And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. 47And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. 48And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. 49While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. 50But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. 51And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. 52And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. 53And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. 55And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. 56And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done. (Luke 8:41‑56)). How beautifully the Lord responds to every call and every need! If you have any difficulty about the affection of Christ, about how He would respond to your call, and your need, these lovely gospel narratives ought to settle your difficulty. Look at this man Jairus, who had a dying daughter! He comes to Jesus about her. The Lord responds at once. Then the people throng Him, and press Him, and a woman who had spent all her living on physicians, and had only got worse instead of better, comes and touches His garment. Just like today. People spend their lives going about to all sorts of spiritual doctors, instead of simply coming to Christ, and of course get no better, for religion cannot save them. Religion can damn you very easily, if you are content with religiousness, without having ever come to a personal Saviour to be saved. This woman heard of Jesus, and she came to Him; and when she came, she touched; and when she had touched, she felt; and then she came forth and confessed Christ! She got all she wanted. She was healed immediately she touched the Saviour. So would you be, if you were to do as she did. Jesus then said “Who touched me?” And the Lord, looking down from glory, now says, Who is touching Me And will you not touch Him, dear friend, and get life from Him?
And now, poor dear blundering Peter puts in a word about the multitude, and says, “Master, the multitude throng thee, and press thee, and gavest thou, Who touched me?” In all this throng, Lord, how can You ask who it is that has touched You? But Jesus said, “Somebody hath touched me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” That is always the way; if you only get near enough to touch the hem of His garment, virtue will go out from Him, and you will be healed, you will get all you need. The Lord will never shake you off; He will encourage you to come forth and confess Him. Only try Him — just come to Him, and touch Him. The virtue that comes out of Him always heals the soul that just simply touches Him in faith.
The woman comes out and confesses what she had done, and why she did it, and what the effect of it was. She had faith in His goodness, faith in His heart, faith in His person; and see what the Lord says, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith had made thee whole; go in peace.” Peter learned a good lesson that day, that a throng might press his Lord and yet nobody really touch Him, whereas the faintest touch of faith secured the fullest blessing.
Next, in Jaime’s house Peter gets another lesson, as be stands by and sees the Lord annul the power of death. He had seen Him heal his mother-in-law, he had seen how faith must be in exercise if blessing is to come, and now he learns that He is the
One who quells the power of death, that death cannot be in His presence. Jesus has power over death. He only met it to annul it, for He was the Lord of life. The thieves who were crucified with Him could not die till He had died; and when He died, He annulled the power of death, broke its bands, demolished the bars of the tomb, and came up out of it. Hence it is to a victorious triumphant Christ I call on you to come now, One who is alive for evermore. I have to do with a victorious Saviour, One who went into death that He might annul it, and did so by dying. He took my sins on Him as He went into it, and put them all away.
Peter was learning blessed lessons of the moral power and glory of his Master, as in Jairus’ house he first saw how He dealt with infidel scorners, namely, “put them all out,” and then heard Him say, “Maid, arise!” and bid her be fed.
This scene is a striking foreshadowing of what will yet be. A day is rapidly nearing when He who overcame death in the house of Jairus, will deal with it finally and forever. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” This we see effected in Revelation 21:1-81And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:1‑8). Happy will they be who are then the witnesses of the Saviour’s final triumph. No scorner shall see it. All such are judged and “put out” in Revelation 20 by the judgment of the great white throne. Peter will witness the Lord’s final victory over death; so too, through infinite grace, shall I. Will you, my reader, be a delighted witness, or a judged scorner in that day