Mark Chapter 3

Mark 3:1 MKJV  And He again entered into the synagogue. And a man was there who had a withered hand.

Perhaps in Capernaum, where he had before cast out the unclean spirit; but not on the same day, nor on that day he had had the debate with the Pharisees, about his disciples plucking the ears of corn on the sabbath day; but on another sabbath, perhaps the next; see Luk_6:6.

“The man’s hand was withered, but God’s mercy had still preserved to him the use of his feet: he uses them to bring him to the public worship of God, and Jesus meets and heals him there. How true is the proverb – It is never so all with us, but it might be much worse!” (Clarke)

Do you let your infirmities keep you from going to church (fellowship, Bible study)?

Mark 3:2 MKJV  And they watched Him to see if He would heal him on the sabbath day, so that they might accuse Him.

The critics of Jesus expected Him to heal this man with the withered hand. By their expectation, they admitted that Jesus had the power of God to work miracles. Knowing this, they watched Him closely . . . so that they might accuse Him. They knew what Jesus could do yet their knowledge didn’t draw them to Jesus. It was as if a man could fly, but the authorities wanted to know if he had a pilot’s license.

i. “No one could miss them, for, in the synagogue, the front seats were the seats of honour and they were sitting there.” (Barclay) The religious leaders watched Jesus closely, but with no heart of love for Him. They knew about Jesus, but they did not know Him.

ii. They also knew Jesus would do something when He saw this man in need. In this sense, these critics had more faith than many of us, because we sometimes doubt that Jesus wants to meet the needs of others.

When the Reader hath consulted what is there said, I beg his attention to behold the conduct of the Scribes and Pharisees upon the occasion. We are told, that they watched JESUS; not to adore him for his grace and mercy, but that they might accuse him. And as soon as the LORD had manifested his tender compassion to this poor man, they went forth, and took counsel to kill him. Now, Reader, do not overlook these things: for very awful as they are, they become precious testimonies to the truth as it is in JESUS.

And they – The scribes and Pharisees, watched him, that they might accuse him – Pride, anger, and shame, after being so often put to silence, began now to ripen into malice. (Wesley)

Do we allow jealousy to blind us to the truth of a matter?

Do we look for what is right about a matter instead of what is wrong about it?

Mark 3:3 MKJV  And He said to the man who had the withered hand, Arise! Come into the middle.

Mark 3:4 MKJV  And He said to them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? To save life, or to kill? But they were silent.

In His question to the religious leaders, Jesus emphasizes the truth about the Sabbath: there is never a wrong day to do something truly good.

a. According to their Sabbath traditions, if you cut your finger, you could stop the bleeding – but you could not put ointment on the cut. You could stop it from getting worse, but you weren’t allowed to make it better.

b. “There are many who call themselves Christians, who do more for a beast of burden or pleasure than they do for a man for whom Christ died!” (Clarke)

Or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? – It seems to have been a maxim with the Jews that not to do good when we have an opportunity is to do evil; not to save life is to kill or to be guilty of murder. If a man has an opportunity of saving a man’s life when he is in danger, and does not do it, he is evidently guilty of his death. On this principle our Saviour puts this question to the Jews – whether it was better for him, having the power to heal this man, to do it, or to suffer him to remain in this suffering condition; and he illustrates it by an example, showing that in a manner of much less importance – that respecting their cattle – they would do on the Sabbath just as “he” would if he should heal this man. The same remark may apply to all opportunities of doing good. “The ability to do good imposes an obligation to do it” (Cotton Mather) He that has the means of feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, and instructing the ignorant, and sending the gospel to the destitute, and that does it not, is guilty, for he is practically doing evil; he is suffering evils to exist which he might remove. So the wicked will be condemned in the day of judgment because “they did it not,” Mat_25:45. If this is true, what an obligation rests upon the rich to do good! (Barnes)

Do you take advantage of opportunities to do good when the Lord puts them in front of you?

Mark 3:5 MKJV  And looking around on them with anger, being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, Stretch out your hand! And he stretched it out. And his hand was restored whole, like the other.

This is one of the few places where Jesus is described as having anger, and He is angry at the hardness of men’s hearts.

  1. We know what anger is, but we are rarely angry for the same reason Jesus was angry. Our anger usually comes from feeling injured, not from the outrage that a good man feels in the face of evil.
  1. Jesus was angry because this was a perfect opportunity for these critics of His to change their mind about Him and their traditions. But they refused to change their minds, and rejected Jesus instead. In this we can see that Jesus deliberately used this occasion to provoke a response. Jesus could have done this the next day. Jesus could have done it privately. But He chose to do it at this time and place.
  1. This was not, however, a spiteful or revengeful passion; it was caused by excessive “grief” at their state: “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” It was not hatred of the “men” whose hearts were so hard; it was hatred of the sin which they exhibited, joined with the extreme grief that neither his teaching nor the law of God, nor any means which could be used, overcame their confirmed wickedness. Such anger is not unlawful, Eph_4:26. However, in this instance, our Lord has taught us that anger is never lawful except when it is tempered with grief or compassion for those who have offended. (Barnes)
  1. with anger] Not merely did He look upon them, He “looked round” upon them, surveyed each face with “an all-embracing gaze of grief and anger.” (Cambridge)

In this, Jesus commanded the man with the withered hand to do something impossible. How can you stretch out a paralyzed hand? But as the man put forth effort, God did the rest. God never commands us without enabling us.

  1. “This man might have reasoned thus: ‘Lord, my hand is withered; how then can I stretch it out? Make it whole first, and afterwards I will do as thou commandest.’ This may appear reasonable, but in his case it would have been foolishness. At the command of the Lord he made the effort, and in making it the cure was effected!” (Clarke)
  1. “Faith disregards apparent impossibilities, where there is a command and promise of God. The effort to believe is, often, that faith by which the soul is healed.” (Clarke)

Like Jesus, the Lord’s people should be wholly out of sympathy with everything not in harmony with God.

It also forms one of seven miracles wrought on the Sabbath-day. The other six were, (1) The demoniac at Capernaum (Mar_1:21); (2) Simon’s wife’s mother (Mar_1:29); (3) the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda (Joh_5:9); (4) the woman with a spirit of infirmity (Luk_13:14); (5) the man who had the dropsy (Luk_14:1); (6) the man born blind (Joh_9:14).

What does your anger look like? How does it compare to the Lord’s anger here?

Do you have the faith to do what the Lord commands?

Mark 3:6 MKJV  The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Jesus did nothing but a wonderful miracle. In response, two parties of former enemies (the Pharisees and the Herodians) can agree together in one cause: to destroy Jesus.

Luk_6:11 says that the critics of Jesus were filled with rage when Jesus healed this man. Which was more a violation of the Sabbath: When Jesus healed a man, or when these hate-filled men plotted the murder of a godly man who never sinned against anybody?

A stanza from My Song Is Love Unknown by Samuel Crossman catches this irony:
Why, what has my Lord done,
To cause this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run
And gave the blind their sight.
What injuries! Yet these are why,
What injuries, yet these are why
The Lord Most High so cruelly dies.

“The Herodians were not a religious party; they were a group of Jews who were sympathetic to King Herod and supported his rule.” (Wiersbe)

The LORD himself hath explained the cause. For while he saith, My sheep hear my voice; and I know them and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life. Joh_10:27-28. he saith to those that are not his sheep: Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. Joh_8:43-47.

Do you see yourself in these Scribes and Pharisees?  If you do, are you going to repent?
Are you a Herodian? Do you get yourself mixed up into politics? Do you let such worldliness affect your fellowship?

Mark 3:7 MKJV  And Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples. And a great crowd from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea,

Mark 3:8 MKJV  and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan, and those around Tyre and Sidon, a great throng came to him, having heard how much He was doing.

Jerusalem was “in” Judea. It is mentioned particularly to show that not only the people of the surrounding country came, but also many from the capital, the place of wealth, and honor, and power.

The crowds came to Jesus near the Sea of Galilee from distant places. Yet it seems that this crowd was attracted to Jesus more because of His miraculous works than because of His message (when they heard how many things He was doing).

It is wonderful for people to be attracted to Jesus. But if their focus is on what He can do for them instead of Who He is, they will not follow Him for long.

Would you follow Jesus wherever he is?

What is your motive for following?

Mark 3:9 MKJV  And He spoke to His disciples, so that a small boat should stay near to Him, because of the crowd, lest they should press on Him.

This shows in a very graphic manner how assiduously and closely the crowd pressed upon him, so that he was obliged to have a little boat always in readiness, in which he might take refuge when the pressure became too great, and so address them with greater freedom from the boat. St. Luke (Luk_5:3) says, “He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship,” making the boat, so to speak, his pulpit.

Mark 3:10 MKJV  For He had healed many, so that they pressed on Him in order to touch Him, as many as had plagues.

As many as had plagues—the Greek word is μάστιγας; literally, scourges, painful disorders–pressed upon him (ὥστε ἐπιπίπτειν αὐτῷ); literally, fell upon him, clung to him, hoping that the very contact with him might heal them.

Mark 3:11 MKJV  And unclean spirits, when they saw Him, they fell down before Him and cried, saying, You are the Son of God!

Mark 3:12 MKJV  And He strictly charged them that they should not make Him known.

It is worthy of notice that the afflicted people fell upon him (ἐπίπιπτειν αὐτῷ); but the unclean spirits fell down before him (προσέπιπτεν αὐτῷ), and this not out of love or devotion, but out of abject fear, dreading lest he should drive them out of the “possessed,”. It is just possible that this homage paid to our Lord may have been an act of cunning—a ruse, as it were, to lead the people to suppose that our Lord was in league with evil spirits.

And he straitly charged them,…. Or vehemently rebuked them, as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; or threatened them much and vehemently, as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic. The Persic version renders it, “threatened many”; both the devils that confessed him, and the many that were healed of their diseases: he gave them a strict and severe charge,
that they should not make him known; or “his work”, as the Arabic, his miracles: he sought not vain glory and popular applause, nor did he need the testimony of men or devils; and especially did not choose the latter, lest his enemies should traduce him, as having familiarity with them, as they did.

Mark 3:13 MKJV  And He went up into a mountain and called near those whom He would. And they came to Him.

a. And He went up on the mountain: Jesus was at a critical point in His ministry:
• He offended the traditions of the religious leadership, and they plot His destruction.
• The political leadership plots His destruction.
• Great crowds follow Him, but they are not interested in spiritual things, and could be quickly turned against Jesus.
So what did Jesus do? He spent a whole night in prayer (Luk_6:12) and then chose twelve disciples.

Do you spend the night in prayer when things are heavy on your heart? Or when you have a big decision to make?

He retired to the mountain-range west of the Lake, and spent the whole night in prayer to God (Luk_6:12). The scene of His retirement and lonely vigil was in all probability the singular elevation now known as the Karûn Hattîn, or “Horns of Hattîn,” the only conspicuous hill on the western side of the Lake, and “singularly adapted by its conformation both to form a place for short retirement, and a rendezvous for gathering multitudes.” Then at dawn of the following day (Luk_6:13), He calleth unto him whom he would] of the disciples, who had gradually gathered around Him.

Mark 3:14 MKJV  And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them out to proclaim,

Then He appointed twelve: In one sense, there was nothing in Jesus’ three years of ministry before the cross more important than this. These were the men who would carry on what He started; without them the work of Jesus would never extend through the whole world. Therefore, He makes the choice with God’s wisdom. Twelve — No more and no less. There is no intimation in the New Testament that, as one after another of the apostles died, other men were recognized as succeeding them.

A disciple was a student, but not in a classroom and lecture sense. A disciple learned by being with a hearing from his master. A disciple was an apprentice, and learned from the master first hand. The disciples belonged to Jesus. Disciples never belong to any man; they only belong to Jesus. They are His disciples.

that He might send them out to preach (or proclaim). A preacher will only be as useful to Jesus to the extent that He has “been with” Jesus. There is little done for eternal good by those who preach without having a real, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“A disciple was a learner, a student, but in the first century a student did not simply study a subject; he followed a teacher. There is an element of personal attachment in ‘disciple’ that is lacking in ‘student.’“ (Morris)

“Their commission was, in the main, the same as the commission of the Lord and of the whole Church. (Isa_61:1-2) They were not to be lords over God’s heritage. Their commission was one of service.

Are you a disciple or merely a student?

Do you have a personal attachment to the Lord?

Mark 3:15 MKJV  and to have authority to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons.

When someone has been with Jesus, and is sent out to serve Him, they can expect that Jesus will give them to power to serve Him, including the power to see miraculous works (heal sicknesses and to cast our demons) done in their midst.
He chose and appointed them to be his apostles, with a view of conferring such powers upon them hereafter; for as yet, they were not vested with them, nor sent out to exercise them; no, not till near twelve months after.

They were not solemnly ordained or consecrated to their office until after his resurrection. Their actual consecration took place when he breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit” (Joh_20:22). But from this time they were his apostles “designate.” They were henceforth to Be with him as his attendants and disciples. They were to go forth and preach under his direction, and by his power they were to cast out devils.

Several manuscripts add here that they were “to heal sicknesses,” but the words are emitted in some of the oldest authorities.

The authority over unclean spirits is more formally conveyed later on, so that here St. Mark speaks by anticipation. But this shows how much importance was attached to this part of their mission; for it recognizes the spiritual world, and the special purpose of the manifestation of the Son of God, namely, that he might “destroy the works of the devil.” He appointed twelve.

Mark 3:16 MKJV  And He put on Simon the name Peter.

We are all familiar with the impetuous vigor of St. Peter, a quality which betrayed him into grave and well-nigh fatal errors, but when chastened by suffering made him a noble and formidable leader of the Twelve.

We recognize it when he says, “Thou shalt never wash my feet,” “Though all men should deny Thee, yet will I never deny Thee,” “Lord, to whom should we go? Thou hast the words of everlasting life,” “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and in his rebuke of Jesus for self-sacrifice, and in his rash blow in the garden. Does this, the best established mental quality of any apostle, fail or grow faint in the miraculous stories which are condemned as the growth of a later time?
In such stories he is related to have cried out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” he would walk upon the sea to Jesus, he proposed to shelter Moses and Elijah from the night air in booths (a notion so natural to a bewildered man, so exquisite in its officious well-meaning absurdity as to prove itself, for who could have invented it?), he ventured into the empty sepulcher while John stood awe-stricken at the portal, he plunged into the lake to seek his risen Master on the shore, and he was presently the first to draw the net to land. Observe the restless curiosity which beckoned to John to ask who was the traitor, and compare it with his question, “Lord, and what shall this man do?”

But the second of these was after the resurrection, and in answer to a prophecy. Everywhere we find a real person and the same, and the vehemence is everywhere that of a warm heart, which could fail signally but could weep bitterly as well, which could learn not to claim, though twice invited, greater love than that of others, but when asked “Lovest thou Me” at all, broke out into the passionate appeal, “Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee.” Dull is the ear of the critic which fails to recognize here the voice of Simon. Yet the story implies the resurrection.

The mind of Jesus was too lofty and grave for quirk; but He put the willful self-reliance which Peter had to subdue even to crucifixion, into one delicate and subtle phrase: “When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest.” That self-willed stride, with the loins girded, is the natural gait of Peter, when he was young. (Expositor’s Bible)

Mark 3:17 MKJV  And He put on James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, the names Boanerges, which is, the Sons of Thunder.

St. James, the first apostolic martyr, seems to have over-topped for a while his greater brother St. John, before whom he is usually named, and who is once distinguished as “the brother of James.” He shares with him the title of a Son of Thunder (Mar_3:17). They were together in desiring to rival the fiery and avenging miracle of Elijah, and to partake of the profound baptism and bitter cup of Christ (Mat_20:20; Mar_10:35; Luk_9:54).

It is more remarkable that he whom Christ bade to share his distinctive title (Sons of Thunder) with another, should not once be named as having acted or spoken by himself. With a fire like that of Peter, but no such power of initiative and of chieftainship, how natural it is that his appointed task was martyrdom.

The deeds of John were seldom wrought upon his own responsibility, never if we except the bringing of Peter into the palace of the high priest. He is a keen observer and a deep thinker. But he cannot, like his Master, combine the quality of leader with those of student and sage. In company with Andrew he found the Messiah. We have seen James leading him for a time. It was in obedience to a sign from Peter that he asked who was the traitor. With Peter, when Jesus was arrested, he followed afar off. It is very characteristic that he shrank from entering the sepulcher until Peter, coming up behind, when in first, although it was John who thereupon “saw and believed.” With like discernment, he was the first to recognize Jesus beside the lake, but then it was equally natural that he should tell Peter, and follow in the ship, dragging the net to land, as that Peter should gird himself and plunge into the lake.

Peter, when Jesus drew him aside, turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, with the same silent, gentle, and sociable affection, which had so recently joined him with the saddest and tenderest of all companions underneath the cross. At this point there is a delicate and suggestive turn of phrase. By what incident would any pen except his own have chosen to describe the beloved disciple as Peter then beheld him? Assuredly we should have written, The disciple whom Jesus loved, who also followed Him to Calvary, and to whom He confided His mother. But from St. John himself there would have been a trace of boastfulness in such a phrase. Now the author of the Fourth Gospel, choosing rather to speak of privilege than service, wrote “The disciple whom Jesus loved, which also leaned back on His breast at the supper, and said, Lord, who is he that betrayeth Thee?”

St. John was again with St. Peter at the Beautiful Gate, and although it was not he who healed the cripple, yet his cooperation is implied in the words, “Peter, fastening his eyes on him, with John.” And when the Council would fain have silence them, the boldness which spoke in Peter’s reply was “the boldness of Peter and John.”

Add to this the keenness and deliberation which so much of his story exhibits, which at the beginning tendered no hasty homage, but followed Jesus to examine and to learn, which saw the meaning of the orderly arrangement of the grave clothes in the empty tomb, which was first to recognize the Lord upon the beach, which before this had felt something in Christ’s regard for the least and weakest, inconsistent with the forbidding of any one to cast out devils, and we have the very qualities required to supplement those of Peter, without being discordant or uncongenial. And therefore it is with Peter, even more than with his brother, that we have seen John associated. In fact Christ, who sent out His apostles by two and two, joins these in such small matters as the tracking a man with a pitcher into the house where He would keep the Passover. And so, when Mary of Magdala would announce the resurrection, she found the penitent Simon in company with this loving John, comforted, and ready to seek the tomb where he met the Lord of all Pardons. (Expositor’s Bible)

Mark 3:18 MKJV  And He appointed Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Canaanite,

How many of these men do we really know anything about? Of PeterJamesJohn, and Judas we know something about. But of the other eight, we pretty much only know their names. Their fame is reserved for heaven, where their names are on the twelve foundations of God’s heavenly city (Rev_21:14). The Bible values fame, but fame in heaven. For the most part, this group was not “famous” in the sense we think of fame in the Twentieth Century. We must learn to value and respect heaven’s fame, not modern fame.

There are many interesting connections with this group. There are brothers (James and JohnPeter and Andrew); business associates (PeterJames, and John, were all fishermen); opposing political viewpoints (Matthew the Roman-collaborating tax collector, and Simon, the Roman-hating zealot); and one who would betray Jesus (Judas Iscariot).

Canaanite has nothing to do with geography. It is the Hebrew word for “zealous,” identifying Simon as a member of the radical Zealot party. That could relate to those of today who are “anti” government—not passively as this is not our home, but more outspoken.

It seems that the names of the twelve disciples are usually arranged in pairs. “Since Jesus sent His Apostles out two by two, this was a logical way to list them.” (Wiersbe)
• Peter and Andrew.
• James and John.
• Philip and Bartholomew (also called Nathanael in Joh_1:45).
• Thomas (his name means “twin”) and Matthew (Levi).
• James, son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus (also called Judas, son of James in Joh_14:22). (Guzik)

At the beginning, and after one interview with Jesus, when Andrew finds his brother, and becomes the first of the Twelve to spread the gospel, he utters the short unhesitating announcement, “We have found the Messiah.” When Philip is uncertain about introducing the Greeks who would see Jesus, he consults Andrew, and there is no more hesitation, Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And in just the same way, when Philip argues that two hundred pennyworth of bread are not enough for the multitude, Andrew intervenes with practical information about the five barley loaves and the two small fishes, insufficient although they seem. A man prompt and ready, and not blind to the resources that exist because they appear scanty.
Twice we have found Philip mentioned in conjunction with him. It was Philip, apparently accosted by the Greeks because of his Gentile name, who could not take upon himself the responsibility of telling Jesus of their wish. And it was he, when consulted about the feeding of the five thousand, who went off into a calculation of the price of the food required — two hundred pennyworth, he says, would not suffice. Is it not highly consistent with this slow deliberation, that he should have accosted Nathanael with a statement so measured and explicit: “We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph.” What a contrast to Andrew’s terse announcement, “We have found the Messiah.” And how natural that Philip should answer the objection, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” with the passionless reasonable invitation, “Come and see.” It was in the same unimaginative prosaic way that he said long after, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” To this comparatively sluggish temperament, therefore, Jesus Himself had to address the first demand He made on any. “Follow me, He said, and was obeyed. It would not be easy to compress into such brief and incidental notices a more graphic indication of character.

Of the others we know little except the names. The choice of Matthew, the man of business, is chiefly explained by the nature of his Gospel, so explicit, orderly, and methodical, and until it approaches the crucifixion, so devoid of fire.

But when we come to Thomas, we are once more aware of a defined and vivid personality, somewhat perplexed and melancholy, of little hope but settled loyalty.

All three saying reported of him belong to a dejected temperament: “Let us also go, that we may died with Him” — as if there could be no brighter meaning than death in Christ’s proposal to interrupt a dead man’s sleep. “Lord, we know not whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way?” — these words express exactly the same despondent failure to apprehend. And so it comes to pass that nothing short of tangible experience will convince him of the resurrection. And yet there is a warm and devoted heart to be recognized in the proposal to share Christ’s death, in the yearning to know whither He went, and even in that agony of unbelief, which dwelt upon the cruel details of suffering, until it gave way to one glad cry of recognition and of worship; therefore his demand was granted, although a richer blessing was reserved for those who, not having seen, believed. (Expositor’s Bible)

Mark 3:19 MKJV  and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. And they went into a house.

“Judas’s surname of Iscariot probably indicates that he was a man from Kerioth: he thus seems to have been the only Judean among the twelve.” (Geldenhuys)

Why did Jesus choose Judas?

• It wasn’t because He no others to choose. He could raise up followers from stones, so He could easily have found someone else.
• It wasn’t because He wanted a scandalous person, or a “bad boy” – we read of no scandal surrounding Judas during Jesus’ ministry. The other disciples did far more stupid things during their three years with Jesus.

“We ought to believe that God had wise ends in the permission of this, and that Christ did out of infinite wisdom do this, though we possibly are not able to give a satisfactory account in the case.” (Poole)

A man once asked a theologian, “Why did Jesus choose Judas Iscariot to be his disciple?” The teacher replied, “I don’t know, but I have an even harder question: Why did Jesus choose me?” (Guzik)

THE evidential value of what has been written about the apostles will, to some minds, seem to be overborne by the difficulties which start up at the name of Judas. And yet the fact that Jesus chose him — the issues of the freewill of Judas did not cancel the trust imposed upon his responsibility; and Jesus acted on the mighty possibilities, for good as for evil, which heaved in the bosom of the fated man as he stood upon the mountain sward.

In the story of Judas, the principles which rule the world are made visible. From Adam to this day men have been trusted who failed and fell, and out of their very downfall, but not be precipitating it, the plans of God have evolved themselves.

It is not possible to make such a study of the character of Judas as of some others of the Twelve. A traitor is naturally taciturn. No word of his draws our attention to the fact that he had gained possession of the bag, even though one who had sat at the receipt of custom might more naturally have become the treasurer.

We do not hear his voice above the rest, until St. John explains the source of the general discontent, which remonstrated against the waste of ointment. He is silent even at the feast, in despite of the words which revealed his guilty secret, until a slow and tardy question is wrung from him, not “Is it I, Lord?” but “Rabbi, is it I?” His influence is like that of a subtle poison, not discerned until its effects betray it.

But many words of Jesus acquire new force and energy when we observe that, whatever their drift beside, they were plainly calculated to influence and warn Iscariot. Such are the repeated and urgent warnings against covetousness, from the first parable, spoken so shortly after his vocation, which reckons the deceitfulness of riches and the lust of other things among the tares that choke the seed, down to the declaration that they who trust in riches shall hardly enter the kingdom. Such are the denunciations against hypocrisy, spoken openly, as in the Sermon on the Mount, or to His own apart, as when He warned them of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy, that secret vice which was eating out the soul of one among them. Such were the opportunities given to retread without utter dishonor, as when He said, “Do ye also will to go away? . . . Did I not choose you the Twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (Joh_6:67; Joh_6:70). And such also were the awful warnings given of the solemn responsibilities of special privileges.

The exalted city which is brought down to hell, the salt which is trodden under foot, the men whose sin remained because they can claim to see, and still more plainly, the first that shall be last, and the man for whom it were good that he had not been born. In many besides the last of these, Judas must have felt himself sternly because faithfully dealt with. And the exasperation which always results from rejected warnings, the sense of a presence utterly repugnant to his nature, may have largely contributed to his final and disastrous collapse. (Expositor’s Bible)

So, where did Judas come from? The commentary above says he was a Judean. I have a hypothesis based on some clues when putting together the Anointing scriptures in all the accounts. His father was Simon, who was a Pharisee. It was in Simon’s house where the anointing accounts happened at the feast thanking Jesus for raising Lazarus.

Was Judas, a lifelong friend of Jesus?

Psalms 41:9 BBE  Even my dearest friend, in whom I had faith, who took bread with me, is turned against me.

As noted in the above commentary, Judas was the treasurer of the group—though one was more qualified. Judas also sat in a seat of favor at the Last Supper—there was no disputing on the seating that night, so he probably was used to being there.

When Jesus was left as a child in Jerusalem for 3 days—who looked after him? We know he was in the temple and the Pharisees were amazed by him—wouldn’t it be logical that someone took him home and fed him for those 3 days? Could it have been Simon the Pharisee, who had children of his own about the age of Jesus?

Could it be that every time Jesus and family had to come to Jerusalem for the various mandatory feasts, they stayed with this family who lived just outside of Jerusalem?

Mark 3:20 MKJV  And again a crowd came together, so that they could not even eat bread.

The idea is that the huge crowds so pressed upon Jesus and the disciples that they did not have the time or the space to eat.

Their time and attention were so occupied that they were obliged to forego their regular meals. The affairs of the Lord may so occupy the attention of ministers and others as to prevent their engaging in their customary pursuits. The Lord’s work is all-important – far more important than the ordinary business of this life; and there is nothing unreasonable if our temporal affairs sometimes give way to the higher interests of our own spiritual wellbeing and that of others.

Jesus, had been up all night in the mountain, which he had spent in prayer; and had been very busy that morning in calling and appointing his apostles, and instructing them what they should do, and now he is dealing with the crowds.

Are we sometimes inconvenienced by the Lord’s Work?

Do we accept the privilege gratefully or complain?

Mark 3:21 MKJV  And hearing, those with Him went out to take hold of Him; for they said, He is insane.

This refers to Jesus’ family and close friends. Since Jesus grew up in Galilee and practiced His ministry there, there were many that knew Him before this time of wide popularity.

c. He is out of His mind: Why would some from His own people think that Jesus was out of His mind?
• He left a prosperous business to become an itinerant preacher.
• The religious and political leaders plotted to murder Him, but He did not back down (Mar_3:6). They were afraid for Jesus’ sake.
• Huge crowds began to follow Jesus, and they knew how such fame and attention and celebrity can go to someone’s head (Mar_3:7-8).
• He showed spiritual power and ministry He had never really shown earlier in His life (Mar_3:9-11). Was something very wrong?
• He picked such an unlikely group of disciples that His judgment could fairly be questioned (Mar_3:13-19).
• But there was one last straw: the pressures of this incredible ministry made Him miss regular mealtimes (they could not so much as eat bread).

Jesus constantly faced the rejection of the religious and political leaders of the day, and in a way their hatred of Jesus made sense – He actually threatened their status quo. Undoubtedly, it was far more painful and challenging for Jesus to deal with the way His own people rejected Him. It isn’t easy to be profoundly misunderstood as you try to walk with God. “When the Lord said ‘a man’s enemies will be those in his own home’ (see Mat_10:36), He may well have been speaking from bitter experience.” (Cole)

The brothers of Jesus didn’t believe in Him until after His resurrection, and during His earthly ministry they prodded Him to “prove Himself.” (Joh_7:3-5)

Mark records no answer, no reaction of Jesus to their comment, “He is out of His mind.” If someone thinks you are crazy, there probably isn’t much you can do about it without compromising. (Guzik)

Have you been called crazy or a fanatic for Jesus?

How did you react to it? Did you cut back on your devotion to the Lord or did it spur you on to do greater things for him?

Mark 3:22 MKJV  And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, He has Beelzebub, and He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.

The scribes who came down from Jerusalem: This is an official delegation of experts from Jerusalem, coming to Galilee, to observe and assess the ministry of Jesus. The opinion of these scribes carried a lot of weight with many people.

  1. “It is possible that they were official emissaries from the Great Sanhedrin who came to examine Jesus’ miracles and to determine whether Capernaum should be declared a ‘seduced city,’ the prey of an apostate preacher.” (Lane)

He has Beelzebub: Actually, they accuse Jesus of being possessed by Satan. “He hath Beelzebub, implying that Beelzebub hath Him, using Him as his agent. The expression points to something more than an alliance [but] to possession, and that on a grand scale.” (Expositor’s)

i. They wouldn’t say that Jesus was possessed by just any demon, but by Satan himself. This was “an involuntary compliment to the exceptional power and greatness of Jesus.” (Expositor’s)

ii. This wasn’t the only time Jesus was insulted like this.
• “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” (Joh_10:20)
• “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (Joh_8:48)
• “We were not born of fornication.” (Joh_8:41)
• “A glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (Luk_7:34)
• “You have a demon.” (Joh_7:20)

c. By the ruler of demons He casts out demons: The Gospel of Luke (Luk_11:14) tells us this accusation came in response to a dramatic demonic deliverance. The religious leaders attributed this working of Jesus to Satan (Beelzebub).

i. Jesus was misunderstood by His own people, but He was viciously – and cynically – attacked by the scribes who came down from Jerusalem. Because of their official position, this is the first step in the plot destroy Jesus referred to in Mar_3:6. Before they can destroy Him, they first must discredit Jesus in the eyes of the multitude.

ii. It takes a very hard heart to look at the work of Jesus and to say, “This is the work of Satan.” We might excuse Jesus’ own for misunderstanding Him, but this shows a much worse spiritual condition.

d. Beelzebub clearly refers to Satan, but it is a difficult name to analyze. It may have been coined because it sounds similar to the Hebrew phrase for “Lord of the Flies.”

i. “It is supposed that this idol was the same with Baalzebub, the god fly, worshipped at Ekron . . . who had his name changed afterwards by the Jews to Baal zebul, the dung god, a title of utmost contempt.” (Clarke)

Mark 3:23 MKJV  And He called them and said to them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

Mark 3:24 MKJV  And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

Mark 3:25 MKJV  And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

Mark 3:26 MKJV  And if Satan rises up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end.

How can Satan cast out Satan? Jesus shows that if He is an agent of Satan, and works against Satan, then surely Satan’s kingdom is in civil war and will not stand – Satan won’t work against himself. That would be suicidal; equivalent to a king stirring up strife in his own kingdom and working against his own cause.

Calmly He calls His accusers to look Him in the face, and appeals to their own reason against their blasphemy. Neither kingdom nor house divided against itself can stand. And if Satan be divided against himself and his evil works, undoing the miseries and opening the eyes of men, his kingdom has an end. All the experience of the world since the beginning was proof enough that such a suicide of evil was beyond hope. The best refutation of the notion that Satan had risen up against himself and was divided was its clear expression. But what was the alternative? If Satan were not committing suicide, he was overpowered. There is indeed a fitful temporary reformation, followed by a deeper fall, which St. Matthew tells us that Christ compared to the cleansing of a house from whence the evil tenant has capriciously wandered forth, confident that it is still his own, and prepared to return to it with seven other and worse fiends. A little observation would detect such illusory improvement. But the case before them was that of an external summons reluctantly obeyed. It required the interference of a stronger power, which could only be the power of God.

Do we let the power of God work in our lives?

Can we use wisdom and calmness to address our accusers in a sound way? Or do we let our emotions take over?

Mark 3:27 MKJV  No one can enter into a strong one’s house and plunder his goods, except he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.

With this, Jesus answers the charge that He is in league with the Devil. He says, “I’m not under Satan. Instead, I’m proving that I am stronger than he is.”

In this parable Satan is the strong man, who guards what belongs to him. Jesus’ ministry, both in the case of casting the demon out of the man who was mute, and in the broader sense, is defeating this strong man.

It’s a reasonable question: what are you doing in Satan’s house anyway? The truth is that because of the sin of Adam, we were born in Satan’s house. Then we also stayed on by our own choice. But when Jesus comes into our life, there is never a reason for someone to be in Satan’s house.

Who’s house are you in?

Does your lifestyle correspond to who’s house you claim to be in?

Mark 3:28 MKJV  Truly I say to you, All sins shall be forgiven to the sons of men, and blasphemies with which they shall blaspheme.

HAVING first shown that His works cannot be ascribed to Satan, Jesus proceeds to utter the most terrible of warnings, because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

What is the nature of this terrible offense? It is plain that their slanderous attack lay in the direction of it, since they needed warning; and probable that they had not yet fallen into the abyss, because they could still be warned against it. At least, if the guilt of some had reached that depth, there must have been others involved in their offense who were still within reach of Christ’s solemn admonition. It would seem therefore that in saying, “He casteth out devils by Beelzebub…He hath an unclean spirit,” they approached the confines and doubtful boundaries between that blasphemy against the Son of man which shall be forgiven, and the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which hath never forgiveness.

Sometimes we say or do things in ignorance, but at some point we need to own up to our ignorance and ask for forgiveness, and we are promised that we can be forgiven. An Atheist who is born into Atheism can be forgiven his outspokenness against God and His people, as can a person who is brought up in the hypocrisy of Christendom and cannot abide therein in good conscience. These people a on a different level than someone who is a Child of God and has tasted of God’s goodness and turns away and becomes like the Scribes and Pharisees. You can excuse the ignorance of a child, but not the disobedience of a man of God.

Mark 3:29 MKJV  But he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never shall have forgiveness, but is liable to eternal condemnation.

This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is serious indeed. The person guilty of this sin is subject to eternal condemnation. In other Gospels (such as in Luk_12:10) this sin as described as “unforgivable.”

What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

a. This idea of one sin that ends in eternal condemnation (Second Death) has troubling many. Some feel totally defeated and hopeless before God, convinced that they have committed this unpardonable sin.

b. We recognize the terrible danger of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and our need to avoid this sin at all cost. At the same time, we guard our hearts against the unwarranted accusation of this sin.

c. The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven – not because it is a sin “too big” for God to forgive, but because it is an attitude of heart that cares nothing for God’s forgiveness. It never has forgiveness because it never wants forgiveness God’s way.

d. “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 Christ, until the seared conscience no longer responds to the gospel message.” (Ironside)

It is evident also that any crime declared by Scripture elsewhere to be incurable, must be identical with this, however different its guise, since Jesus plainly and indisputably announces that all other sins but this shall be forgiven.

Now there are several other passages of the kind. St. John bade his disciples to pray, when any saw a brother sinning a sin not unto death, “and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: not concerning this do I say that he should make request” (1Jn_5:16). It is idle to suppose that, in the case of this sin unto death, the Apostle only meant to leave his disciples free to pray or not to pray. If death were not certain, it would be their duty, in common charity, to pray. But the sin is so vaguely and even mysteriously referred to, that we learn little more from that passage than that it was an overt public act (not a single act, but a habit of action), of which other men could so distinctly judge the flagrancy that from it they should withhold their prayers. It has nothing in common with those unhappy wanderings of thought or affection which morbid introspection broods upon, until it pleads guilty to the unpardonable sin, for lapses of which no other could take cognizance. And in Christ’s words, the very epithet, blasphemy, involves the same public, open revolt against good. [6] And let it be remembered that every other sin shall be forgiven.

There are also two solemn passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb_6:4-6; Heb_10:26-31). The first of these declares that it is impossible for men who once experience all the enlightening and sweet influences of God, “and then fell away,” to be renewed again unto repentance. But falling upon the road is very different from thus falling away, or how could Peter have been recovered? Their fall is total apostasy, “they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” They are not fruitful land in which tares are mingled; they bear only thorns and thistles, and are utterly rejected. And so in the tenth chapter, they who sin willfully are men who tread under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and do despite (insult) unto the Spirit of grace.

So far as these passages are at all definite in their descriptions, they are entirely harmonious. They describe no sin of the flesh, of impulse, frailty or passion, nor yet a spiritual lapse of an unguarded hour, of rash speculation of erring or misled opinion. They speak not of sincere failure to accept Christ’s doctrine or to recognize His commission. They do not even apply to the dreadful sin of denying Christ in terror, though one should curse and swear, saying, I know not the man. They speak of a deliberate and conscious rejection of good and choice of evil, of the willful aversion of the soul from sacred influences, the public denial and trampling under foot of Christ, the opposing of all that is of God.

And a comparison of these passages enables us to understand why this sin never can be pardoned. It is because good itself has become the food and fuel of its wickedness, stirring up its opposition, calling out its rage, that the apostate cannot be renewed again unto repentance. The sin is rather indomitable than unpardonable: it has become part of the sinner’s personality; it is incurable, an eternal sin.

Here is nothing to alarm any mourner whose contrition proves that it has actually been possible to renew him unto repentance. No penitent has ever yet been rejected for this guilt, for no penitent has ever been thus guilty.

And this being so, here is the strongest possible encouragement for all who desire mercy. Every other sin, every other blasphemy shall be forgiven. Heaven does not reject the vilest whom the world hisses at, the most desperate and bloodstained whose life the world exacts in vengeance for his outrages. None is lost but the hard and impenitent heart which treasures up for itself wrath against the day of wrath.

Mark 3:30 MKJV  Because they said, He has an unclean spirit.

Jesus made this statement because they said that the spirit that was in him was an unclean spirit; that he was actuated by one of the fallen angels and not by the divine Spirit, maliciously attributing to an evil source what could not be denied was a good work, free from sin, selfishness or ambition.

These religious leaders were in danger of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit because they looked at the perfectly good and wonderful work of God in Jesus, and officially pronounced it the evil of Satan. This points to a settled rejection of heart against Jesus – possible evidence of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

“Notice that these men had not yet committed the unpardonable sin . . . Otherwise Jesus would never have warned them. By his own words, there is no use warning a man who has committed the unpardonable sin; he is beyond help.” (Steadman)

It also reminds us of the danger of being a negative Christian. Though we must show discernment, we should never be too quick to say something is of the devil. We shouldn’t let our Christian lives be defined by what we are against.

Are you a “negative Christian”?

Is your life defined by what you are against?

Mark 3:31 MKJV  Then His brothers and His mother came. And standing outside, they sent to Him, calling Him.

Why had they sent to Him? Perhaps to carry out the plan described in Mar_3:21, to lay hold of Him, thinking that Jesus was out of His mind. More out of a spirit of anxiety than of opposition. They did not believe in his claims and doctrines at that time, and seemingly could not understand why he was so revolutionary in his teachings and so antagonistic to all the recognized religious teachers of his day. (Joh_17:5)

Mark 3:32 MKJV  And the crowd sat about Him, and they said to Him, Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking for You.

Their interference must have caused the Lord a bitter pang. It was sad that they were not among His hearers, but worse that they should seek to mar His work. To Jesus, endowed with every innocent human instinct, worn with labor and aware of gathering perils, they were an offense of the same kind as Peter made himself when he became the mouthpiece of the tempter. For their own sakes, whose faith He was yet to win, it was needful to be very firm. Moreover, He was soon to make it a law of the kingdom that men should be ready for His sake to leave brethren, or sisters, or mother, and in so doing should receive back all these a hundredfold in the present time (Mar_10:29-30). To this law it was now His own duty to conform.

Jesus gives us a ready means of knowing whether we are among those whom He so wonderfully condescends to love. “Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven.” Feelings may ebb, and self-confidence may be shaken, but obedience depends not upon excitement, and may be rendered by a breaking heart.

It is important to observe that this saying declares that obedience does not earn kinship; but only proves it, as the fruit proves the tree. Kinship must go before acceptable service; none can do the will of the Father who is not already the kinsman of Jesus, for He says, Whosoever shall (hereafter) do the will of My Father, the same is (already) My brother and sister and mother.

And Jesus was bound to all who loved His Father by as strong a cord as united His perfect heart with brother and sister and mother.

But as there is no true obedience without relationship, so is there no true relationship unfollowed by obedience. Christ was not content to say, Whoso doeth God’s will is My kinsman: He asked, Who is My kinsman? and gave this as an exhaustive reply. He has none other. Every sheep in His fold hears His voice and follows Him. We may feel keen emotions as we listen to passionate declamations, or kneel in an excited prayer-meeting, or bear our part in an imposing ritual; we may be moved to tears by thinking of the dupes of whatever heterodoxy we most condemn; tender and soft emotions may be stirred in our bosom by the story of the perfect life and ransom death of Jesus; and yet we may be as far from a renewed heart as was that ancient tyrant from genuine compassion, who wept over the brevity of the lives of the soldiers whom he sent into a wanton war.

Mere feeling is not life. It moves truly; but only as a balloon moves, rising by virtue of its emptiness, driven about by every blast that veers, and sinking when its inflation is at an end. But mark the living creature poised on widespread wings; it has a will, an intention, and an initiative, and as long as its life is healthy and unenslaved, it moves at its own good pleasure.

How shall I know whether or not I am a true kinsman of the Lord?

By seeing whether I advance, whether I work, whether I have real and practical zeal and love, or whether I have grown cold, and make more allowance for the flesh than I used to do, and expect less from the spirit. Obedience does not produce grace. But it proves it, for we can no more bear fruit except we abide in Christ, than the branch that does not abide in the vine.

Mark 3:33 MKJV  And He answered them, saying, Who is My mother, or My brothers?

We might have expected that Jesus’ family would have special privileges before Him. It almost surprises us that they do not.

i. Brothers: Jesus plainly had brothers. The Roman Catholic idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary is in contradiction to the plain meaning of the Bible.

ii. Many reliable manuscripts add and Your sisters to Your mothers and Your brothers. “According to a reading in several MSS., these included sisters among those present.” (Expositor’s)

iii. The brothers of Jesus never seemed to be supportive of His ministry before His death and resurrection (Joh_7:5).

Mark 3:34 MKJV  And He looked around on those who sat about Him, and said, Behold My mother and My brothers!

Mark 3:35 MKJV  For whoever does the will of God, the same is My brother and My sister and My mother.

The disrespect which Christ’s kindred, according to the flesh, showed to him, when he was preaching (and they knew very well that he was then in his element); they not only stood without, having no desire to come in, and hear him, but they sent in a message to call him out to them (Mar_3:31, Mar_3:32), as if he must leave his work, to hearken to their impertinences; it is probable that they had no business with him, only sent for him on purpose to oblige him to break off, lest he should kill himself. He knew how far his strength would go, and preferred the Father’s work before his own life, and soon after made it to appear with a witness; it was therefore an idle thing for them, under pretence of his sparing himself, to interrupt him; and it was worse, if really they had business with him, when they knew he preferred his business, as a Saviour, so much before any other business.

He looked upon those that at about him, and pronounced those of them that not only heard, but did, the will of God, to be to him as his brother, and sister, and mother; as much esteemed, loved, and cared for, as his nearest relations, Mar_3:33-35. This is a good reason why we should honour those that fear the Lord, and choose them for our people; why we should be not hearers of the word only, but doers of the work, that we may share with the saints in this honour, Surely it is good to be akin to those who are thus nearly allied to Christ, and to have fellowship with those that have fellowship with Christ; and woe to those that hate and persecute Christ’s kindred, that are his bone and his flesh, every one resembling the children of a king (see Jdg_8:18, Jdg_8:19); for he will with jealously plead their cause, and avenge their blood. (Matthew Henry)

Whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother: Mark 3 ends with a huge contrast. There are religious leaders in danger of damnation, and an invitation to be part of Jesus’ family.

Do you spend more time with your earthly relatives (or friends) than you do with your brothers and sisters in the Lord?

What is your priority?

Commentaries used for this study: David Guzik, Charles Russell, The Expositor’s Bible, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, E.W. Bullinger, Matthew Henry and more.
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