Jesus picks his team
Jesus heals a withered hand1 Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath. Inside there was a man who had a hand that was withered and useless. 2 People there watched Jesus to see if he would heal the man on the Sabbath. If he did, they planned to accuse him of breaking the law. 3 Jesus told the man with the withered hand, “Get up and step forward.” 4 Jesus asked the people, “Does the law teach that the Sabbath is a day to do good or something bad? Is it a day to save a life or to destroy it?” No one said a thing. 5 After Jesus looked around at the people, he grew angry. It broke his heart to see how callous these people were. He told the man, “Stick out your hand.” The man stretched out his hand. Suddenly, his hand became perfectly normal. 6 Instantly the Pharisees left the sanctuary. They met with a group of Jews known as the Herodians, and started working on plans to get rid of Jesus.
Crowds put the crush on Jesus7 Jesus and his disciples left the town and walked over to the lake. A large crowd followed him. They came from nearby Galilee and Judea. 8 They also came from Jerusalem and Idumea. They came from east of the Jordan River, and from the areas around the cities of Tyre and Sidon. a large crowd gathered around him because of what they heard he was doing. 9 The crowd grew so large that Jesus decided to take steps to make sure he didn’t get crushed. He told his disciples to get a small boat ready so he could stand in it while he talked to the people. 10 Jesus had healed so many people that everyone who had diseases were jostling to get close enough to touch him. 11 Whenever anyone with demonic spirits saw Jesus, they dropped to the ground and screamed, “You are the Son of God!” 12 Jesus told them to stop it. He didn’t want them telling people who he was.
Jesus picks the devoted dozen13 Jesus went to the mountain, taking the people he wanted with him. 14 He chose 12. He gave them the title of official messengers called “apostles” because they were going to spend time with him and then he was going to send them out to preach. 15 They were going to have the authority to command demons to leave the people they were possessing. 16 These are the 12 he appointed:
Peter, the name Jesus gave to Simon, 17 brothers James and John the sons of Zebedee (Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus’s family: “He lost his mind”20 Jesus went back to the house. Again, a crowd gathered. Jesus and his disciples weren’t even able to grab a meal. 21 When Jesus’s family heard what was going on, they said, “He lost his mind.” They came for an intervention, intending to take him into custody—arrested by the family.
Jewish scholars: “He’s possessed”22 Jewish scholars called scribes came down from Jerusalem. They explained what Jesus was doing by saying “He’s possessed by Beelzebub. He uses the power of the prince of demons to drive out the demons.” 23 Jesus called everyone together. Then he started telling them parables. “How can Satan exorcise Satan? 24 If a nation goes to war against itself, it can’t survive. 25 If a family splits in two because of a feud, you end up with a broken family. 26 So what sense would it make for Satan to fight against himself? He’d lose. 27 No one is going to walk right into a man’s house and rob it if the man is standing there and able to defend himself. The robber has to tie up that man first. Then he can take anything he wants.
Unforgivable sin28 I’ll tell you the truth, you sons of a human can be forgiven any blasphemous slander that comes out of your mouth. 29 But there is no forgiveness for those who slander the Holy Spirit. That sin lasts forever. 30 Jesus told them this because they accused him of being demon possessed.
Jesus keeps the family waiting31 Jesus’s mother and brothers, who came to get him, were standing outside. They sent word to him so he would come out. 32 A crowd was sitting around Jesus, and they passed along the message. “Your mother and your brothers are outside wanting to see you.” 33 “Who is my mother?” he said. “Who are my brothers?” 34 Jesus looked at all the people seated in a circle around him. He said, “Here are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who obeys God is my brother and my sister and my mother.”
Some Jews taught that practicing medicine on the Sabbath is something that should be reserved for life-threatening situations. In this case, a man with the withered hand would not qualify. Healing his hand could wait another day. Jesus did not seem to agree.
Herodians were members of a Jewish political party focused on restoring the family dynasty of King Herod the Great. Most Jews however were interested in restoring the family dynasty of King David, and putting one of his descendants on the throne of an independent Jewish nation. By the time Jesus started his ministry, Romans had been occupying and controlling the Jewish homeland for approaching a century. Neither the kingdom of Herod or David was ever restored. The Jews did not regain their homeland and declare their independence until 1948. For most of the past 2,000 years, Muslim Arabs controlled the land.
Sea of Galilee.
Judea was a Roman province further south. Jerusalem was a city in that province. The city was roughly a 100-mile (160 km) walk south of Jesus’ ministry headquarters in Capernaum. That would have been about a week-long walk.
Idumea was a territory south of Jerusalem.
Tyre and Sidon are cities on the Mediterranean coast in what is now Lebanon.
Apostle means “official messenger,” such as a delegate or an ambassador sent to deliver a message. The title “apostle” came to mean disciples hand-picked by Jesus to tell his story and spread his teachings. The title usually referred to the 12 original disciples of Jesus and Paul, who met Jesus in a miraculous encounter while Paul was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians (Acts 9:5).
Jesus seemed to be using the home of Peter as his ministry headquarters (1:29).
Nazareth was the hometown of Jesus. That was about a day’s walk away, roughly 20 miles (32 km).
Actually, they came up from Jerusalem since Jerusalem was south of Capernaum. But Bible writers often say people go down from Jerusalem and up to Jerusalem no matter what direction the people are traveling. Bible writers say this because Jerusalem is on a ridgetop. Anyone going into Jerusalem has to go up. Anyone leaving Jerusalem has to go down.
Beelzebub, many Bible experts say, is a word that comes from a Hebrew expression meaning “master of the home,” though some suggest “master of the poop.” Well, okay, they say “dung.” The word seemed to have become a title for Satan. Whatever it meant, given the context alongside the “prince of demons,” it was not intended as a compliment.
A parable is a story with a spiritual message embedded in it.
“Sons” refers to the Jewish scholars Jesus is targeting. It was a men’s-only religious club.
The word is more literally “blaspheme.” It’s not clear what Jesus meant by this. Just as Mark 3:22 reports Pharisees accusing Jesus of using Satan’s power, Matthew reports Jesus accusing them of blaspheming after they accused him of casting out demons by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:22-27). Given that context, some scholars say the sin is crediting Satan with a miracle performed by the Holy Spirit. Others suggest it is simply a person’s persistent unwillingness to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, which describes the critics Jesus faced. For people who fear they have committed the unforgivable sin, Bible experts point them to 1 John 1:9, which says that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. Period. See the video “Unforgivable sin.”
What point do you think Jesus was trying to make by healing a man on the Sabbath—the man “with a withered hand” (3:3)?
Jewish leaders saw a miracle. They watched Jesus heal a man’s useless hand. But the only emotion they seemed to feel was anger. They “started working on plans to get rid of Jesus” (3:6). What do you think that says about them?
Demons had a big mouth around Jesus. They always seemed to want Jesus to know that they knew who he was. So they told him, sometimes with a loud voice and people listening. “Jesus told them to stop it. He didn’t want them telling people who he was.” (3:12). We can only guess why Jesus did that. Care to guess?
Jesus picked a motley crew of disciples, a dirty dozen: fishermen, a tax collector, and who knows what else. Why do you think he would entrust the Christian movement to workaday grunts like this instead of to the scholarly minded or to movers and shakers?
Oddly, Mark inserts a short blurb into the story about the family of Jesus coming to whisk him out of the public eye. Mark’s description makes it sound like part intervention and part citizen’s arrest. He quotes the family as saying Jesus “lost his mind” (3:21). What do you think is going on here? Have Mary and the kids lost their minds?
When Jewish scholars in the crowd accused Jesus of using Satan’s power to cast out demons, Jesus said it wouldn’t make sense for Satan to fight against himself (3:26). That may not seem like a foolproof argument because it would seem Satan can certainly use that tactic as a trick. If you were going to help defend Jesus against the accusation that he gets his power from the devil, how would you do it?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus gave his disciples “the authority to command demons to leave the people they were possessing” (3:15). Do you think there’s a place for that kind of ministry in the church today? Or do you think the “demons” that were exorcised were more likely physical or mental problems, such as epilepsy or multiple personality disorders?
LIFE APPLICATION. Pastors say one of the most common questions they get during counseling with people who know at least a little about the Bible is that they are afraid they are going to hell because they sinned against the Holy Spirit. Mark said, “There is no forgiveness for those who slander the Holy Spirit. That sin lasts forever” (3:29). That shocking quote from Jesus also shows up in the Gospels of Matthew (12:31-32) and Luke (12:10). It sounds as though we could be in big trouble if we give the Holy Spirit a good cussing out. What’s a pastor to say?