Gospel of Mark Chapter Three Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Audio Sermon – Mark 3
Whoever Does the Will of God
Jesus was in the town of Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was the Sabbath “and He entered the synagogue again,” as seen in Verse 1. The Holy Spirit carefully orchestrated all this, causing “a man (to be) there who had a withered hand.” And Jesus knew that those who had no faith in Him were in attendance. They, as in Verse 2, “watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.” Isn’t it amazing? You would expect that they would rejoice that a man might be healed, but instead they remained suspicious of God and did not care about the Lord or this man.
As we continue in Verses 3-5, note that the Holy Spirit of God knew their thoughts and precisely what would happen. We are blind to the future, not truly knowing anything about it. But the Holy Spirit is not blind. He can see – every thought, each outcome of everyone. Jesus was doing what we should all do – He looked to the Spirit, and “He said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Step forward.’” His enemies listened intently as He asked them in Verse 4, “‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they kept silent.” Note that the Law of the Sabbath, as seen in places like Exodus 20:8-11, was intended to remind us of Creation, as recorded in Genesis. It also is to protect us from working ourselves and others to death; but incredibly the Law is often used as a legalistic weapon.
God is angry with those who misuse the intent of His Word, and we see that in Verse 5, as Jesus, God the Son, “looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts.” He said to the crippled man, “‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.” Isn’t it wonderful? Why weren’t the onlookers glad for him?
But they were not glad, demonstrating their lack of love for God and for the man who now had been made whole. As it says in Verse 6, “the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.” The Pharisees (“separated ones”) were religious leaders of that time and place, and the “Herodians” were an aristocratic group who supported the Roman dynasty of King Herod. They wanted to kill their Healer and Savior.
Jesus, God the Son, was angry, as we saw in Verse 5, and we see how He handled that anger in Verse 7 - “Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea.” And many needed His miracles - “a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea.” Galilee was further north and Judea was a Roman Province to the south. As the narrative continues into Verse 8, we find that others followed Him also, from places like “Jerusalem and Idumea and beyond the Jordan; and those from Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him.” “Idumea” was the land of Edom, southwest of the Dead Sea. Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem was in Judea.
Jesus, God the Son, had taken human form from the time of His conception by the Holy Spirit and His body, just like ours, could die; “so He told His disciples (in Verse 9) that a small boat should be kept ready for Him because of the multitude, lest they should crush Him.” We should be encouraged by these verses to reach out to the Lord in prayer, “for He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him and the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, ‘You are the Son of God’” (Verses 10-11). But He commanded those “spirits” to shut up in Verse 12. He is infinitely greater than demons.
If you and I were in charge of things, we probably would have selected different men than we see in Verses 13-19. We might well have picked geniuses like Albert Einstein, or rich people, or strong men like Sampson, or great warriors to be disciples of the Lord. But here He was, taking a few to the “mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him.”
In Verses 14-15, “He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.” This was long before the filling with the Holy Spirit of Acts Chapter Two, and there is no record that the abilities were ever taken back from these men who were to be the “apostles” (sent ones) of the church.
Here in Verses 16-19 are the somewhat odd characters Jesus chose to be the Apostles of the Early Church: A few fishermen from the Sea of Galilee, including “Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter” and his brother, Andrew, who, along with James and John had been in the fishing business together. Jesus interestingly gave them nicknames. Simon’s was “Peter,” which meant “little rock” or “stone.” The brothers James and John were likely bombastic in personality because in Aramaic He called them “Sons of Thunder” (Verse 17).
Others in Verse 18 were, “…Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew (Levi), Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, (and) Simon the Canaanite.” Verse 19 lists the strange “Judas Iscariot,” a person we would not choose because he would betray Jesus. We want someone loyal, and the Holy Spirit who was guiding these choices, knew very well that Judas was to be a betrayer.
They all went into a house and in Verse 20 we find that “the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.” “His own people” in Verse 21 were those, including his family, who were from the community He grew up in. They were saying “He is out of His mind.’” Verses 22-30 show the attitude of “scribes who came down from Jerusalem,” saying, ‘He has Beelzebub,’ and, ‘By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.’” Significant people from Jesus’ childhood and leaders from Jerusalem were against Him. He was betrayed by His own people. “Beelzebub” literally meant “lord of the flies” and was a reference to Satan.
He answered such people by asking a question: “How can Satan cast out Satan?” It wouldn’t be logical because the enemy of God would destroy himself. Jesus used the imagery of a kingdom divided and a house divided, relating it all in Verse 26 to the absurdity of Satan in a war against Satan. In Verse 27, we see an invader in a strong man’s house who must first beat the owner before the house can be taken. It’s obvious that the enemy has control over a lot of people in this world and Jesus has entered the enemy’s camp and has been rescuing us, one at a time.
In Verses 28-30, we find an excellent definition of the phrase, “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” a term often used, but seldom understood. The Holy Spirit of God led Jesus Christ, God the Son, to heal a man with a crippled hand on the Sabbath (Saturday), the holy day of the Jews. The religious leaders insisted that Jesus was empowered by Satan, the enemy of God and mankind. They slandered the Holy Spirit of God by calling this miracle the act of Satan. God definitely does forgive sin; that’s what the cross is all about – we are forgiven when we trust in the Lord and what He has done. But this sin is uniquely unforgivable - “he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.” And that is “because they said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’” God’s Holy Spirit is pure, clean, and fills us with love.
Now the scene shifts in Verses 31-35 to outside the house in Capernaum, where the family of Jesus was “calling Him.” Jesus was told, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.” He answered in Verses 33-34 with the surprising words: “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” and He pointed at His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!. For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” Give your heart to the Lord, be open to His will, and you will be part of the family of God, safe in His arms.
Lord, we give ourselves to You, our Healer. We are Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.