Sunday, March 05, 2006


Mark 2:23.....

Mark 2:23...

September 28, 2003

Good Morning. Today we return to our study in the Gospel of Mark. You’ll remember from our earlier studies that Mark could well be called the Gospel of Peter, as Mark was Peter’s personal secretary and likely wrote this gospel as Peter’s recollections of his time with the Lord. Also, Mark was written primarily to the Romans, and reflects their way of thinking and contains information that would make sense to the average Roman reader of about A.D. 60.

We left the Gospel in chapter 2. Let’s take it up again at...

Mark 2:23-28 (Read)

The Roman citizen reading Mark in those days would have been aware that the Jews had some odd laws covering the 6th day of the week and Mark shows them here and in the beginning of chapter 3 some of the meaning of those laws and what is essential about them.

Mark 2:23 (Read)

The word translated “corn” here in the King James version means “wheat” or more generically, “grain”. That is the meaning still in Great Britain. They will call wheat or barley or oats or rye “corn” and what we call corn they refer to as “maize”, which is actually its proper name.

Mark 2:24 (Read)

So what is the crime here that the Pharisees are complaining to Jesus about? Here is what it is NOT. It is not trespass. It was considered permissible to walk across someone else’s property in Israel as long as you did no damage to that property. It is not theft. In Deuteronomy the scripture makes clear that it is acceptable to take no more than you can eat at the time as you walked through the field. It would become theft only if you carried some out of the field with you to feed others or to sell. For instance, you can walk under the apple tree and pluck one and eat it as you go, but you cannot fill your pockets. This would make sense to a 1st century reader, either Roman or Jewish.

The Pharisees had taken the Jewish law and twisted it in order to control the people. In this case they were saying that plucking the grain on the day of rest was harvesting, and by implication, as Jesus and his disciples rubbed the husks in their hands to free the grain to eat, they were doing the labor of threshing. It seems obvious to us how silly this is. It is what we would call following the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. To the practical Romans of the time, it would have seemed the same.

Our Lord had an answer for them.

Mark 2:25-26 (Read)

He is telling here the story that appears in Samuel 21:1-6. It tells how King David apparently broke the law, yet was not chastised or punished by God when he ate the “show bread” from the temple. Obviously there was some situation present at that time a thousand years before that made a difference in how God perceived David'’ behavior. What was it? Things were not right in Israel. David had been anointed king but had been rejected. He was being hunted down like an animal. Do you see the parallel here? Christ had been anointed king at his baptism by John, yet he was being rejected just as David had been on whose throne he was supposed to reign.

When things weren’t right in Israel God had allowed David to do that which would normally have been sin. Now it’s obvious that things are not right in Israel again. For one thing, the Pharisees, as religious leaders should have been providing Christ and his followers with food on the sabbath day. Instead they were simply walking along hoping to catch them at something.

To quote MacDonald, “If David had actually broken the law by eating the show bread, yet was not rebuked by God, how much more blameless were the disciples who, under similar circumstances had broken nothing but the traditions of the elders.”

Mark 2:27 (Read)

Now the Lord reminds them that a loving God had instituted the sabbath as a day of rest for man. It was not meant to enslave them. This is, of course, what the Pharisees wanted to do with their traditions. They were making a power grab. The Romans who read this gospel lived in a world of power and power broking, of warring politicians and slavery, they understood this completely.

Mark 2:28 (Read)

Jesus makes his definitive statement here. He is telling the Pharisees flat out that he is the Messiah. He ordained the Sabbath and he is completely in charge of it. How they must have hated him for that! And in the next chapter we’ll see how much.

Mark 3:1-3 (Read)

Here is another test case for the legalists. What is right to do on the Lord’s day? The Pharisees were aware this man was in the synagogue. They may even have arranged it. When the word “accuse” is used as it is here we can assume that they meant to have Jesus arrested. If they could just get him to massage the mans hand or put ointment on it or do any work whatsoever they could have accused him of unlawful labor. Not one of them would have refused to treat an animal that was injured on the sabbath, but their legalism had so blinded them, they would refuse treatment to a fellow human being. When Jesus said “stand forth”, a hush went over the crowd. I’ve no doubt the Pharisees were ready to seize him. It was a tense moment
Then Jesus asked a question.

Mark 3:4 (Read)

Who wanted to kill here? The Pharisees did! This was the moment they’d been waiting for. If they could just get him to break the law, they had him. In their blindness, planning to kill a man was acceptable on the day of rest, but healing him wasn’t! They glowered at him in silence. How they must have hated him for putting him on the spot in front of the people like that!

Mark 3:5 (Read)

You see? Peter was there. He saw the anger on his Lord’s face and described vividly to Mark 30 years later. Jesus was angry. He could see right into the hearts of those wicked men. He wasn’t just angry, he was grieved. He had come to save their souls as well as the soul of the poor cripple before him and he could tell how hard their hearts were. So he said, stretch forth your hand. Imagine you’re that man right now. All your life you’ve been different from others, teased no doubt. Unable to participate in the things normal people do, struggling to make a living, shamed, and outcast, and now you stand before a man who looks at you with compassion, knowing that even if he touches you, he will be accused of sin. And he says’ “stretch forth your hand”. Not that ugly twisted claw! Not that withered thing that you keep carefully hidden out of sight in the sleeve of your robe. And there is a moment of decision. He could have shook his head and clutched his hand to his bosom and fled from the synagogue. He looked the master in his face. He didn’t see the anger there, it wasn’t for him. He saw the grief and compassion. He reached that shameful hand toward the Master and it changed! It straightened and moved! Flesh and muscle grew on it, the fingers became straight and normal, strength flowed into it and he was healed.

So I ask myself. Do I have a withered hand I’m clutching to my bosom today? Is there something in my life that I’m hanging on to and hiding from the light of day? What do I have to do to be free and healed? Reach out to the Master. Make the decision to trust him to heal it.

So now the Pharisees are infuriated. Jesus showed them up for the hypocrites they were. They couldn’t accuse him of anything. The hand had healed without even a word or a touch. Now they faced a decision just as the crippled man had. They could have forsaken their unbelief and turned towards him and accepted him as the Messiah. What did they do?

Mark 3:6 (Read)

The Herodians were the traitors of the time. They were the political party who welcomed the Roman rule and participated in it. Yet in their hate, the Pharisees turned to them. Why? Again, it is all about power. They felt it slipping away from between their fingers like sand and they wanted it back. The Herodians had already proved they had power. They had arranged for the beheading of John the Baptist. After all, it was at his baptism of the Lord that Jesus had been anointed to be king over Israel, couldn’t they help the Pharisees assassinate Jesus also?

Mark 3:7-10 (Read)

Mark explains to his readers what a large area this crowd came from. Romans were used to mobs, they controlled them with bread and circuses and Mark wanted them to know this was no ordinary group of people. An entire province was being depopulated as people rushed to one who could not only heal, but put the Pharisees in their place. By going to the sea, Jesus was able to use a geographical barrier to protect himself from being trampled by the crowd who came for healing. Several of the disciples had access to fishing boats. This small ship may have been Peter’s. And perhaps he was able to use the deck as a pulpit to teach the people.

Mark 3:11,12 (Read)

He didn’t want or need the witness of evil spirits. He had already stated in 2:28 who he was. He is soveirgn. HE gets to decide when and how to reveal himself. Now we see that he made his decision about exactly who would do that work, rather than these spirits.

Mark 3:13-19 (Read)

Notice there were three reasons for the call of the 12.
1st, that they might be with him. They were to be the Lord’s companions for his time of ministry. They were also to have that time with him learning in private before they started a public ministry. That is a basic principle of Christian service.

2nd, that he might send them out to preach. Their ministry was to be primarily to teach the word. We hear a lot now about programs and methods and strategies. Here we see the primary one, to preach his word.

3rd, that they might have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons. These miracles were sign gifts, in other words, proofs to their audiences that God was speaking through them. So why isn’t that happening now? Why isn’t every preacher given supernatural power to heal all sicknesses, cast out all demons? Because now God speaks through this book. I don’t have to be able to perform miracles to prove that what I am saying about Jesus Christ and his life are true. I already have God’s word, right here in my hands. I don’t need signs and wonders when I have his word. I might note here that the great commission stated, “to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile”. God always worked with the children of Israel through signs and wonders. When the early Church began and the gospel of mystery was being presented to the “Jew first” people spoke in tongues, were healed, even raised from the dead. But after Paul shook the dust of his feet off at the Jews and said “from now on I go to the gentiles”, the sign gifts gradually faded away and were replaced by the preaching of the word.

Mark 3:20 (Read)

So Jesus and his disciples have left the sea and have gone to a house to attempt a meal and the mob has gathered and pressed in on them till they can’t even eat, and we come to one of the strangest and saddest parts of the story of the life of Jesus.

Mark 3:21 (Read)

The word translated “friends” here is actually family. When his family heard the ruckus going on and heard about the mobs, did they decide that their brother and son was the Messiah? No, they decided he was crazy and they went to take him away and lock him up. “To his own came he, and his own received him not.” Apparently they came down from Jerusalem and were with some of the scribes. But the scribes didn’t believe he was mentally ill. They had another explanation.

Mark 3:22 (Read)

The name Beelzebub, is a deadly insult. It means the Lord of the manure flies. It is the nastiest of things they could have said about him. And they said it to his family. How does the Lord react to this? He calls the scribes in to him and teaches them using parables they were sure to recognize.

Mark 3:23-26 (Read)

Jesus shows the scribes how preposterous their ideas are. It is obvious that survival depends on cooperation, not conflict.

Mark 3:27 (Read)

So Jesus is showing that his actions are exactly the opposite of what the scribes are claiming. He is beginning the destruction of Satan. He is looking forward to the end of all things when the devil will be bound forever and thrown in the pit and his house, this earth where he has ruled will be plundered for the Lord. Also implicit in this verse is the idea that Satan’s power must be bound before mortal men could cast out demons. Nothing can be done without his power.

Mark 3:28-30 (Read)

This is a passage that has caused a lot of distress to well meaning Christians who assume, that they might sometime have accidentally called the work of God the work of Satan and thus committed the unpardonable sin. First we need to note that Jesus did NOT say the scribes had committed that sin. He said they were in DANGER of committing it. They were turning away from the light given by the Holy Spirit and if they continued in their rejection of him they might reach the point where all hope was lost and God’s spirit would stop striving with them. Then their damnation would be assured.
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