The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 3  

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Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

1 Once again Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man with a withered hand was there. 2 In order to accuse Jesus, they were watching to see if He would heal on the Sabbath.

3 Then Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Stand up among us.” 4 And He asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

But they were silent.

5 Jesus looked around at them with anger and sorrow at their hardness of heart. Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and it was restored.

6 At this, the Pharisees went out and began plotting with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Study Questions: The action in this passage is fairly simple. Jesus heals a man with a withered hand. What makes it so noteworthy is that he did so on the Sabbath, in violation of the tradition of the elders. Jesus asked the question, which is lawful on the Sabbath, to do good or do evil, to save life or destroy it? The Pharisees spoke not a word, but their motivation was clear to Jesus. “In order to accuse Jesus of breaking the law, they were watching him closely.” So the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

Why do you think they had such hatred toward Jesus? Evil and death don’t take a break for the Sabbath, so why should goodness and life? In verse 5, what is Jesus’ reaction to the Pharisees’ hardness of heart?


Jesus Heals the Multitudes

7 So Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea, accompanied by a large crowd from Galilee, Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, the region beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon. The large crowd came to Him when they heard what great things He was doing.

9 Jesus asked His disciples to have a boat ready for Him so that the crowd would not crush Him. 10 For He had healed so many that all who had diseases were pressing forward to touch Him. 11 And when the unclean spirits saw Him, they fell down before Him and cried out, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But He warned them sternly not to make Him known.

Study Questions: The “sea” in this passage is actually a lake, called the Sea of Galilee. Crowds from all over Israel were coming to see and hear Jesus. So he moved into a small fishing boat offshore, so he could be heard by the crowds on the shore. He healed many, and the unclean spirits fell down before him and cried out, “you are the Son of God.” Most of the people who saw Jesus believed he was a prophet, a spokesman for God. Many were hopeful that he was the promised Messiah, sent by God as a prophet, priest and king in the tradition of King David. Jesus commanded the unclean spirits not to make him known as the Son of God. For what reasons do you think Jesus didn’t want his true identity as the Son of God to be widely known at this time?


The Twelve Apostles

13 Then Jesus went up on the mountain and called for those He wanted, and they came to Him. 14 He appointed twelve of them, whom He designated as apostles, to accompany Him, to be sent out to preach, 15  and to have authority to drive out demons.

16 These are the twelve He appointed: Simon (whom He named Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (whom He named Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.

Study Questions: Jesus had many followers, but he appointed 12 of them to accompany him, to be sent out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. What do you think? Was Jesus looking past his death on the cross to a time when his followers would need leaders and teachers to spread the gospel and build up his faithful as his church?


A House Divided

20Then Jesus went home, and once again a crowd gathered, so that He and His disciples could not even eat. 21When His family heard about this, they went out to take custody of Him, saying, “He is out of His mind.”

22And the scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and, “By the prince of the demons He drives out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them together and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand. 26 And if Satan is divided and rises against himself, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 Indeed, no one can enter a strong man’s house to steal his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.

Study Questions: Jesus returned home, but was working so hard in teaching, preaching and healing that he didn’t take time out to eat. Even his family — his mother and brothers– were concerned about him. Have you ever had an occasion where you were working so hard, that you totally forgot to rest, eat or sleep?

Jesus’ miracles totally indicted the scribes that came from Jerusalem. They asked themselves, “how could he work such miracles and cast out demons when he doesn’t even follow our commands?” They came to accuse him of casting out demons by the power of the devil! How does such an argument strike you?

Jesus’ parable was “how could you plunder a strong man (the devil) unless you first tied up his house? If Satan is divided, he cannot stand and his end has come.” But the scribes were unrelenting in their argument–in effect saying only evil can do good!


The Unpardonable Sin

28 Truly I tell you, the sons of men will be forgiven all sins and blasphemies, as many as they utter. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of eternal sin.”

30 Jesus made this statement because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Study Questions: This teaching is what some have called the “unpardonable sin.” Many Bible scholars believe the condition identified here can only be applied to the Pharisees and the Jewish Council at that time. Not to you and me.

Almost all Bible scholars affirm that there is no sin that is unpardonable, if people repent and turn in faith to Christ. But it is possible to sin so that the conscience becomes seared as with a hot iron, and men then lose all desire to repent and are given up to the strong delusion that they should believe a lie and so be doomed to eternal separation from God. It was so with these scribes. They had refused every witness God had given to the truth as set forth in Jesus.

These words were never intended to torment anxious souls honestly desiring to know Christ, but they stand out as a blazing beacon warning of the danger of persisting in the rejection of the Spirit’s testimony of Jesus Christ, until the seared conscience no longer responds to the Gospel message.


Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came and stood outside. They sent someone in to summon Him, 32 and a crowd was sitting around Him. “Look,” He was told, “Your mother and brothers are outside, asking for You.”

33 But Jesus replied, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” 34 Looking at those seated in a circle around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.”

Study Questions: We all have a physical birth. But it is a spiritual birth which brings us into an everlasting relationship to our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus speaks of all who do the will of God as his family, and God’s will is this — “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”