In our study of Mark chapter three, we will look at the crowds that began to follow Jesus and those that He chose to be His apostles. We will examine the "unpardonable sin" as well as looking at Jesus' definition of family.
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Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.
In chapter two, we saw an example of how the religious rulers accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath while He was out in the fields (the secular world). Now, we see that He is in the synagogue (the religious world) and the rulers have planted a crippled man to see how Jesus would react.
Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, 'Stand up in front of everyone.' Then Jesus asked them, 'Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or do evil, to save life or to kill?' But they remained silent.
Jesus used the situation as a chance to teach the people that were in the synagogue. Jesus' method of teaching was to ask people questions and try to help them to come up with the correct answer on their own. This was a pointed question as the religious leaders did not understand that the Law did not have the power to bring life. The purpose of the Law was to show people that they could not keep it and so they needed a Savior. On the other hand, Jesus came to be that Savior and was, in fact, bringing eternal life to the people. We notice that the religious leaders had learned their lesson about trying to debate with Jesus and so they remained quiet.
He looked around them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
We always hear that God is love which is true but, as we see here, God can get angry. We see this in the fact that Jesus showed momentary anger as He looked at them in their disbelief. Although we see flashes of anger from Jesus in the gospel accounts, we see His continual grief at the stubbornness of men's hearts. Can you imagine having a cure for cancer and taking it to a cancer hospital only to have the doctors refuse to use it to save the patient's lives? That is an example of what the religious leaders were doing.
Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
These two events that happened on the Sabbath brought about the break with the religious authorities. It was at this point that they decided that Jesus must die. We see an odd alliance here as the Herodians who supported submitting to the Romans were naturally opposed to the Pharisees who longed for Jewish independence. This unlikely alliance was united around their desire to eliminate Jesus. This combination of political and religious opposition continues today and will continue with the emergence of the "unholy trinity" in the last days (see Revelation 13).
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon.
Jesus did not debate the Law with the religious establishment but instead withdrew to the Sea of Galilee. Crowds from the entire area followed Him and it must have been like a mob as people were desperate for a physical healing. This, too, would have caused the religious leaders to hate Jesus enough to seek His death.
Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.
Most of us would have been flattered at the fact that so many wanted to be near us but Jesus separated Himself from the crowd. Why would Jesus have done this? He knew their hearts and that they were not seeking to get closer to God but just out for the here and now with the physical healing. The same type of thing happens today as crowds (even Christians) will show up at a "healing service" but few will show up for a simple Bible study. Instead of flattering Him, Jesus saw this and was saddened by the state of their hearts.
Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, 'You are the Son of God.' But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.
While the crowds didn't care about His identity as the Son of God, the spirits did. We notice that they fell down and acknowledged who He is and the same thing is going to happen to everyone in the last days. We must ask ourselves the question: Why did Jesus tell them to keep it to themselves; isn't it good to share the fact that he is the Son? The simple fact of the matter is that Jesus did not want the testimony of the underworld. His desire is for men who accept Him as Lord and Savior to be His witnesses and to proclaim His identity to the world. The unclean spirits had a head knowledge of Jesus as Lord but they could not know Him as savior which comes from the heart.
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve - designating them apostles - that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.
Jesus called twelve of His disciples and set them apart as apostles. His purpose for designating them had three parts. As apostles, they were allowed to be with Him constantly to see and to hear His teaching. At this time, the crowds were getting rather large but these men were granted access at all times. The second part is that their purpose was to preach the gospel about Him and they would be the ones to travel to other parts of the world on His behalf. The third part was to demonstrate His power and authority by driving out the demons. At this time, the demons had been coming and falling down before Him but, when He was gone, they were not just going to leave on their own. It is interesting to note that He designated twelve and we remember that the number is associated with divine spiritual authority. There are many today who are using "apostle" as a title but that is clearly not what Jesus meant for us to do.
These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
What an unlikely group of men to pick for such an important mission. All of these men (except for one) were simple fishermen with no big formal education. The exception was Matthew who was considered to be lower than fishermen as he had been a tax collector. Though Jesus has not designated us as apostles, He has given us the same mission that He gave these men. Many people want to argue about the reasons that God chose these men but the simple fact of the matter is that He knows all men and He knows all of the plan. That is how He could choose Judas who would be the one to betray Him unto death.
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'
The crowds followed Him everywhere in search of physical healing. We see, here, that His family accused Him of being crazy and wanted to get Him and hide Him away. This is a reminder that many without faith see our faith as craziness. That is what was happening to Jesus and it happens even today. The simple fact of the matter is that those without faith cannot understand the actions of a Christian.
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, 'He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.'
The religious leaders seized on this idea and blamed it on demons living in Jesus. The same type of thing is happening today in that many well-meaning religious people credit the things of God to Satan and the demons that associate with him.
So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: 'How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand, his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.'
Jesus answered them with things that they would have been familiar with such as the rise and fall of kingdoms. He points out how ridiculous their accusation was as He compares Satan attacking himself to a robber trying to steal from a home while the man of the house watches.
'I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.' He said this because they were saying, 'He has an evil spirit.'
Then, Jesus made them aware of what they were doing as it was blasphemy to credit the things of God to Satan and his demons. There have been many attempts to explain how a sin can be unforgivable but the answer is really simple. Salvation is only possible by accepting the grace of God through Jesus Christ. This is only possible through the power of the Holy spirit speaking to our souls and calling us to Him as no man comes to Christ on his own. When you attribute the working of that Spirit to the devil, then you will not listen to it and will not come to Jesus for salvation.
Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, 'Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.'
Jesus' mother and brothers showed up to get Him and we must remember that they thought that He was crazy. They didn't even want to go inside to get Him but instead sent word in to Him. Do you have family and/or friends that think you are crazy since you put your faith in Jesus Christ? Do people call you a "Jesus Freak" or some other name that they make fun of? If so, you can find comfort in knowing that His own family tried to hide Him away because they thought that He was crazy.
'Who are my mother and my brothers?' he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.'
Now, Jesus shows us His true family and, though His brothers and mother would come to faith in Him, at this time He says it is those who are doing God's will. They surely were not as they were seeking to hide Him away from the world. In our world today, family heritage is taken very seriously and an entire industry is set up around finding family ties and family history. Our earthly family of the flesh is important but even more important is our family relationship in Christ. It is wonderful when the two come together and that is only possible through following Jesus as our Lord and Savior.