Studies in the Gospel of Mark- Chapter 3
I. Unlikely Alignment
A. Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 3:1-6)
B. Though we do not know the exact time of this event, we do know that it was a turning point in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus entered the synagogue which was His custom and there was a man who had a withered hand. It is after this event that the Scripture records “great” multitudes gathered to hear Him.
C. Had his hand withered (exērammenēn echōn tēn cheira). He had his (the in the Greek, common idiom with article as possessive) hand (right hand, Luk_6:6) in a withered state, perfect passive participle (adjective xēran in Matthew and Luke), showing that it was not congenital, but the result of injury by accident or disease. (Robertson’s Word Pictures)
D. This withered hand was not the result of some congenital defect, but was the result of something that happened since birth. This man had lost his ability to grasp and hold to things with his hand. The Gospel of Luke records that it was his right hand. The right hand was symbolic of strength, honor, and favor. This man becomes the flashpoint of Jesus message to us and to the religious leaders of His day and ours too.
E. The Pharisees watched to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, not for the sake of the man, but so they might accuse Him. There is one person whose name is accuser-Satan. Jesus asks the Pharisees, Is it lawful…? Here we see a shift. Before, Jesus would explain His actions, for He loved the Pharisees as much as any person He healed, but their refusal to listen to the Lord of the Sabbath, understand the Spirit of the Law, and position themselves for accusation did nothing but bring the Anger of the Son of Man upon them. By their smug and accusing attitudes they revealed their stubborn and hard-heartedness.
F. What the Pharisees failed to realize is they had spiritually what the withered-hand man had physically.
G. After the healing, the Pharisees went and met up with the Herodians on how they might destroy Jesus. It was the coalescing event in defining the two kingdoms- Jesus’ Kingdom of Light and every other Kingdom of Darkness. This counsel was as withered as the man’s hand. The Pharisees hated the Herodians. The Herodians were supporters of Herod Antipas and the Romans. The Pharisee movement was by nature a stark contrast to the hedonistic lifestyle of Herod and his court. Here we see that on the Sabbath, they conspired to kill Jesus who said “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?”
II. Clashing Kingdoms
A. Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” And he strictly ordered them not to make him known. And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:7-21)
B. A great crowd followed Him. There were so many people that the very press of the crowd was crushing. People were healed and the oppressed were freed.
C. He went to a mountain and called and appointed the twelve and called them apostles. He was organizing His Kingdom on the earth. Their purpose was twofold. 1. They might be with Him. 2. They might be sent out to herald His message and cast out demons. The term “apostle” is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), meaning “one who is sent away”, from στέλλω (“stello”, “send”) + από (apo, “away from”). The literal meaning in English is therefore an “emissary“-a person sent on a special mission such as a diplomatic representative.
D. When He went home, even His family did not believe Him.