MAIN TEXT: MARK 3:7-21
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 arethe 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 Zealot, 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.”
Vince Lombardi, infamous coach of the Green Bay Packers was a great coach, but was also a man of great wit and insight. Many leadership and life quotes are credited to him. Here are a few of his quotes that fit well with this section of Mark’s gospel:
- “Men respond to leadership in a most remarkable way, and once you have won their heart, they will follow you anywhere.”
- “People who work together will win.”
- “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
Leadership, teamwork, and fatigue are a theme throughout our text. When trying to handle the pressures that come with faithful ministry these themes will be constant. Jesus knew this and we are given His perfect example of how to deal these realities. Jesus has been facing physical, emotional, and relational challenges one after another.
- Opposition of 5 controversies from the religious authorities (Mark 2:1 – 3:6).
- The pressure of crowds (Mark 3:7-12).
- A follower that will betray Him (Mark 3:19).
- The rejection of family (Mark 3:20-21).
Jesus provides a model for us to follow. He will accept the pressures all the way to the cross where He will die as a ransom for sin (Mark 10:45). There is much for us to learn about the pressures of life and ministry.
Expect to be pressured by those who want something from you.
Despite the huge resistance from the Jewish leaders, Jesus’ popularity with the people was epic. However, the overwhelming desire of the crowds was not for His message but rather for His healing touch. They were more concerned with their bodies than their souls.
There was great diversity in the crowds (verses 7-8). Jews and Gentiles were gathered from all different areas. This ethnic mix is appropriate since the kingdom of God is to be made up from every tribe and nation around the world. Jesus consistently affirmed diversity (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus’ growing popularity meant great pressure. Jesus experienced pressure in many forms. Anyone who chooses to minister to and bless others should be prepared for the same.
People will impose on you.
Jesus had withdrawn from the crowds but they followed Him. He was hoping for some quiet time with His disciples. His public ministry was often mayhem.
Jesus had been healing the sick and casting our demons and people wanted in on it. They didn’t care about Jesus, but only cared about what they could get from Him. There wasn’t concern for His privacy, His need for time alone, or His need for food and rest (verse 20).
This can happen to us as well. It is unavoidable but to a certain degree you can control it. When you serve others, they will impose on you without a second thought. Resting, recreating, and taking time to listen to God must be a part of our rhythms. This will take discipline.
There will be hindrances.
Jesus continues to confront and conquer the demonic as a proof that the kingdom of God has arrived in Him. In verse 11, demons fall down before Him, acknowledging that He is the Son of God. Jesus demands their silence (verse 12). A declaration of His deity by demons will not help His mission. It is both the wrong time and the wrong source. Jesus will be fully revealed by the cross on Calvary. Jesus moves forward to complete His mission on God’s terms – on His terms – not theirs.
We must do God’s will in God’s way and in God’s time. We must not be steered off course by other agendas, position, wealth, or popularity.
Expect to be pressured by those who want your time.
Jesus goes up a mountain, away from the crowds. Here, Jesus calls the 12 disciples to Himself (verse 13). They would eventually be given the task of leading the early Christian Church and proclaiming the gospel to all nations. According to Luke 6:12, Jesus prayed all night before calling them. This was a crucial decision for Jesus and in the building of His kingdom.
Be intentional about who you spend time with.
These chosen men would follow Him, be with Him, and learn from Him. As apostles (verse 14) they would be sent with His authority to proclaim Him in the gospel. Their authority is to preach and cast out demons. In both word and action they are to carry on His work of building the kingdom of God. Jesus’ selection of these 12 disciples shows that he is establishing a new, holy nation – a new community called the church (1 Peter 2:9).
The list of names of the 12 disciples are not the same among the four gospels. Matthew and Mark list Thaddaeus while Luke names Judas (son of James) – most likely Judas’ name may have changed to Thaddaeus to avoid the stigma of Judas Iscariot – the betrayer. Simon the Zealot (verse 18) was a part of the group that advanced revolutionary tactics to overthrow the power of Rome. Bringing him and Matthew the tax collector together is something that only the gospel could do!
These disciples came from a wide variety of backgrounds. They had different passions, interests, and agendas. The thing that they had in common was Jesus’ calling them out and His commitment to invest in them and use them to change the world. This is a great guide as each of us commit to make disciples.
Recognize that some will disappoint you.
The Bible is brutally honest. In every list of the disciples, Judas Iscariot is listed last and his betrayal is noted (verse 19). Jesus chose Him – he didn’t pry himself into the group. He served well for a while. This serves to remind us that you will be disappointed by people whom you love and who you thought loved you. Jesus knew this sorrow and heartache.
Expect to be pressured by those who misunderstand you.
Being let down, misunderstood, and betrayed by a friend is tough, but when family does this it is almost unbearable. Our text tells us what happened when Jesus returned home.
People may try to control you.
The crowds descend on Jesus with a selfish vengeance. The house is so full that Jesus can’t find time or space to eat. They will monopolize Jesus if they can – using Him only for His power to heal. They completely misunderstand that His true mission is to get to the cross and deal with their real need: their sin!
People may try to stop you.
The first mention of Jesus’ family does not reflect them well (verse 21). They are convinced that He is out of His mind. They do not understand who He is or what He came to do. The culture where shame and honor are supreme was ruling their hearts. They were trying to prevent shame to the family. From their perspective, Jesus was a religious fanatic who was hurting the family name and also a danger to Himself.
Jesus kept His focus and did not allow the pressures of this world to distract or detract Him from the goal. He was faithful. We too must be faithful throughout the pressures of this life. We have received the same mandate and mission from Jesus as His disciples(Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus was faithful in His mission and ministry all the way to Calvary!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 3:7-21
What effect can the constant pressure of public appearances have on a spiritual leader? What do various types of churchgoers want from church leaders?
Why is it amazing that Matthew (Levi) and Simon the Zealot served together under Christ? Does the gospel still have the power to bring contrary people together? Think of an example of people you know personally.
Which is more demanding, trying to please people or trying to please God? Which is more tiring? More rewarding?