Mark 3:1-12

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 10, 2004


Jesus’ ministry has begun.  He’s been using the little town of Capernaum as a sort of “home base”.  He’s called some of His disciples:  Peter, Andrew, James, and John.  He’s cast out demons and healed sick people.  Everyone is amazed at Jesus.

The last chapter ended with Jesus being criticized by the Pharisees, a sect of the Jews that believed in following the strictest sets of rules.  Jesus and His disciples had been walking through a field and had been picking some of the grain to eat as they went.  The Pharisees had accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath laws.  Jesus told them:

(Mark 2:27-28 KJV)  And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: {28} Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

The Pharisees were concerned about their rules.  Jesus was concerned about people.

3:1-6 Sabbath Healing

:1  there was a man there which had a withered hand.

witheredxeraino – to dry up, wither; to waste away

The Greek tense indicates that this was not something the fellow was born with, but either through disease or an accident he had lost the use of his hand.  Luke tells us it was his right hand.

:2 And they watched him…that they might accuse him.

they watchedparatereo – to stand beside and watch, observe carefully; these guys are just looking to catch Jesus doing something wrong.  Another way of putting it is that they were “spying” on Jesus.

might accusekategoreo – to accuse; to accuse formally before a tribunal; they’re like a district attorney gathering evidence for their day in court.

:3 …Stand forth

forthmesos – middle; in the midst of

Jesus asks the man to stand up right in the middle of the synagogue so all can see what He’s about to do.


Being up front

He didn’t take it outside.  Jesus isn’t going to be secretive.  He’s going to deal with it head on.
He has nothing to be ashamed of in healing a man on the Sabbath.
A boy had reached four without giving up the habit of sucking his thumb, though his mother had tried everything from bribery to reasoning to painting it with lemon juice to discourage the habit.  Finally she tried threats, warning her son that, “If you don’t stop sucking your thumb, your stomach is going to blow up like a balloon.”  Later that day, walking in the park, mother and son saw a pregnant woman sitting on a bench. The 4-year-old considered her gravely for a minute, then spoke to her saying, “Uh-oh...I know what you’ve been doing.”
I wonder if sometimes we don’t mishandle things when we don’t deal directly with a problem.
Solomon wrote,
(Prov 26:4-5 KJV)  Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

There is a time not to respond to a fool because you’ll become like him. 

{5} Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

But there’s a time to speak up and say something in order to correct a fool from thinking that what he’s doing is okay.

Jesus has some corrections to address in the thinking of the Pharisees about what is okay and what isn’t okay to do on the Sabbath.

Peter and John had been a part of a wonderful miracle.  A lame man at the Temple was healed as Peter called on Jesus to help.  But the miracle got Peter and John into trouble because they used it to talk about Jesus.
(Acts 4:7-13 KJV)  And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Even as the man with the withered hand was put “in the midst” of the synagogue, Peter and John now find themselves in the middle of the crowd.

{8} Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, {9} If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; {10} Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. {11} This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. {12} Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. {13} Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
There’s a time to be up front with people.  If you’re doing something that’s right, there’s a good chance you don’t need to hide it.
Jesus was up front with people.  He was bold.  Spend time with Him.

:4 Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? …But they held their peace.

held their peacesiopao – to be silent, hold one’s peace

The questions that Jesus is asking them really aren’t “fair” questions.  To the Pharisees the issue wasn’t good or bad, the issue was “doing” things on the Sabbath.  One commentator calls them “merciless questions”, saying that what Jesus was doing was a “terrible exposure” (Robertson).

Jesus is using some pretty tough language to put these guys in a corner.

Jesus wants to do good for this fellow, while the Pharisees are thinking of doing evil things to Jesus.  Jesus wants to save this guy, the Pharisees want to kill Jesus.

It’s interesting that the Pharisees are so concerned about the Sabbath Law, but are totally blind to the fact of their own immoral hatred and plotting against Jesus.

We can get so caught up in a “cause” that we can miss the bigger issues.

:5  …he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts …

with angerorge – anger, wrath, indignation.  I think it would be safe to say that Jesus was a bit disgusted with the Pharisees.

The Greek text indicates that Jesus is angry for a moment, but continues on being “grieved” at these people.

hardnessporosis – the covering with a callus.

The only “work” Jesus does is to tell the man to stretch out his hand.


Hardness of heart

Have you gotten to the place in your life where you are more concerned about things being “neat and clean” in your life instead of whether or not hurting people get healed?
Dealing with people who need Jesus can be messy.  If I’m more concerned about my living room getting messed up instead of whether or not people find Jesus, perhaps my heart is not in the right place.
The Greek word (or forms of it) translated “hardness” is found eight times in the New Testament.  It’s interesting to see how this word is used.
There seems to be two different kinds of “hardness” that can happen to hearts.
First is the hardness that can happen to an unbeliever.  This is similar to what happened to the Jews of Jesus’ day.
The word for “hardness” is used to describe the “blindness” that has come on the nation of Israel as a result of rejecting Jesus as their Messiah (John 12:40; Rom. 11:7, 25; 2Cor. 3:14)

(Rom 11:25 KJV)  For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Paul’s warning was actually to Gentile believers to warn them that they could become hard hearted like Israel.  The nation of Israel should have known better, but they allowed their hearts to become calloused to the things of God.  We too ought to take heed to this warning because our hearts could become calloused as well.

This is the hardness that happens from saying “no” too many times to Jesus.

Over and over again you’ve heard about Jesus, and you’ve continued to say “no”.

This is why the large majority of people who make a decision to follow Jesus are young.  When a person gets older, it gets harder and harder to respond.  It’s not impossible, and when it happens, we know God has done a neat thing.

Don’t say “no” to Jesus.

The second kind of hardness is what can happen to those of us who believe and follow Jesus.
The disciples allowed their hearts to become calloused.  They had been spending a lot of time seeing Jesus do amazing things.  They had just seen him feeding five thousand people with just a few pieces of bread and a couple of fish.

(Mark 6:46-54 KJV)  And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. {47} And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. {48} And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. {49} But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: {50} For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. {51} And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. {52} For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. {53} And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. {54} And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him,

I wonder if the disciples got a little too used to what Jesus could do?  I wonder if they had lost the sense of “wonder” at Jesus?

Have you begun to lose some of that sense of “wonder” at the things of Jesus?  Has reading God’s Word become a little boring?  Do you lose that sense of closeness to God during communion?

Jesus told the church at Ephesus what to do when they left their “first love” (Rev. 2:5).  He told them to think about where they came from, to turn around, and to go back to doing the “first works”, the things they used to do when they first fell in love with Jesus.
I think Paul gives us a little idea of what those “first works” are when he tells believers how to deal with a hardened heart:
(Eph 4:17-32 NLT)  With the Lord's authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. {18} Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. {19} They don't care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. {20} But that isn't what you were taught when you learned about Christ.

These are some of the qualities of the hardened heart.  Simply not caring anymore.  Not caring about right or wrong.  Falling into immoral ways.

{21} Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, {22} throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. {23} Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. {24} You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness--righteous, holy, and true.

We are to be different.  Paul tells us some of the things we need to change.

{25} So put away all falsehood and "tell your neighbor the truth" because we belong to each other.

Tell the truth.  Stop lying.

{26} And "don't sin by letting anger gain control over you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, {27} for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.

Deal with your anger.

{28} If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need.

Work, don’t steal.  Give to others.

{29} Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Change the way you speak.  Use words to help, not destroy.

{30} And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

Keep yourself open to the work that the Holy Spirit wants to do in you.  Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit as Jesus was grieved at the hardness of the hearts of the Pharisees.

{31} Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. {32} Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Change your attitudes towards others.  Get rid of anger and forgive others.

:6 took counsel with the Herodians

HerodiansHerodianoi – Herodians; the Herodians were a Jewish political party that favored the Herodian and Roman rule.

There were four “Herods” who ruled over the Jews with the blessing of Rome.  Jesus’ ministry was at the time of the second Herod, Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.  He was the fellow who imprisoned John the Baptist, beheaded John, and before whom Jesus would stand trial.

The Herodians and the Pharisees are usually on opposite sides.  Now they’ve joined forces against Jesus.

3:7-12 By the sea

:7 a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea

Judaea is the southern portion of the land of Israel (kind of like “Southern California”) while Galilee is in the north.

:8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea …

Idumaea – the land of “Edom”, the descendants of Esau, on the eastern side of the Jordan River, modern Jordan.  Herod the Great on his father’s side was an Edomite.

Tyre and Sidon – the two cities north of Israel on the coast of the Mediterranean, these were the cities that were the home of the ancient Phoenician empire, in modern Lebanon.

Word is getting around about Jesus.

:9 that a small ship should wait on him …lest they should throng him.

small shipploiarion – a small vessel, something like a rowboat.

throngthlibo – to press (as grapes), press hard upon; a compressed way

The boat was sort of an escape in case Jesus began to get crushed by the crowd or pushed out into the water.

:10 they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues.

pressed uponepipipto – to fall upon, to rush or press upon

to touchhaptomai – to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to

plaguesmastix – a whip, scourge; metaph. a scourge, plague; a calamity, misfortune, esp. sent by God to discipline or punish

Our word “plague” comes from a Latin word (plegnumi) which means “to strike a blow”.  Our word “stroke” comes from this same idea.  These are very sick folks.

:11 And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him… Thou art the Son of God.

unclean spirits – demons.  When the demon-possessed people saw Him, they fell down before Him.

Thou – an “intensive” construction, literally, “You, You are the Son of God”.

:12 And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.

He does not want testimony from demons.

He wants testimony from disciples.


Get them to Jesus

Jesus has the answers.  Jesus can heal the “plagues”.  Jesus can handle the “demons”.
Get to Jesus.  Bring others to Jesus.