Read Mark 3
Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 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. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at 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. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Crowds Follow Jesus
7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.
Jesus Appoints the Twelve
13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus Accused by His Family and by Teachers of the Law
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Today’s reading continues a prevalent theme we saw yesterday as well: Jesus came to push back against the status quo. Each of these four “scenes” teaches us something new about Jesus. First, he heals a man on the Sabbath. This was unthinkable, and Mark tells us that this is when the Pharisees began plotting to kill Jesus. Next, we see what a compelling figure Jesus has become, to the point where large flocks of people followed him everywhere he went. Then, he appoints a rag-tag group of 12 disciples to help him carry out the mission God had given him. Finally, we see Jesus redefine the concept of what family looks like in the Kingdom of God.
So, what are we to take away from these four stories that are presented here in Mark 3? The common thread here is the idea that Jesus is looking for who is willing to follow him. In the synagogue, he knew the Pharisees were out to get him and were just looking for reasons to accuse him. As the crowd around him grew and grew, he knew who was following him for the right reasons and who was just there for the spectacle. As he appointed the 12 disciples, he wasn’t looking for the most educated, the most qualified, or the most gifted public speakers. He was looking for whoever was willing to abandon everything for the sake of following him. And then he says, “If you want to be my brother and sister, do God’s will,” and invites whoever is willing to be part of his family. May we as individuals and as a church be the kind of people who are willing and ready to follow Jesus in every circumstance.
What was the first thing that stood out to you about the character of Jesus in today’s reading?
Reread Mark 3:14-15. What was the number one prerequisite Jesus had for his disciples?
Reread Mark 3:23-29. What does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?
Think about the way Jesus redefines family in chapter 3. Why was this such an earth-shattering declaration? What were the implications of that then and now?
Did You Know?
Mark tells us that Jesus gave Simon a new name (Peter). It was a Jewish custom to give someone a new name following a life-changing event. Other instances of name changes in scripture include Abram (to Abraham) in Genesis 17:3-5 and of Saul (to Paul) in Acts 13:9.