Week of March 1

Commotion or Commitment?

Read: Numbers 14-16; Mark 3

"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."
Mark 3:7-8, ESV


Jesus spells himself out, as the saying goes, in language that people understand. Sadly, people often do not “read” him correctly. However, there is life eternal for those that do. We will see the clear message that Jesus proclaimed and the various reactions to it in Mark 3. The message that the Gospel writer wants us to receive is contained in three words about Jesus—"Son of God.” Let’s examine and apply our focal passage today.

A Biblical Lens

Take a step back to survey the third chapter in Mark. He begins by recording the events that surrounded the healing of a man with a withered hand (3:1-6), then he concludes with an account of his family’s concern that he had lost his mind! (3:20-21, 31-35). Sandwiched in between is a summary report of Jesus’ ministry (7-12), the calling of the twelve disciples (3:13-19), and the fast-emerging opposition to his ministry (3:6, 22-30). Bible scholars scratch their heads and have offered several explanations why Mark would drop verses 7-12 into the Gospel story at this point. Well, I do not claim to be a “New Testament scholar,” but I believe that there is a reason—Galilee, Judea, Idumea, and Tyre and Sidon (3:7-8). Are you confused? Let me explain.

These places were inhabited predominantly by non-Jewish people. Jesus was attracting non-Jews as well as Jews to his ministry. This was no localized attraction because Idumea is far south of Galilee and Tyre is far north. Mark tells us that Jesus receives folks like you and me (non-Jews; cf. 5:1-20; 7:24-30, 31-37). Have you ever wondered what it must feel like to be wanted by God? These people had been rejected by some Jewish leaders as long as they could remember, but Jesus invited them to come to him (Matthew 11:28). The point?

Jesus names twelve disciples who would become Apostles and to them he gave the mandate to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and the authority to push back against embedded evil (3:14-15; 3:11; cf. Acts 1:8). Charles Swindoll once remarked about the commotion that the Gospel often creates by stating, “Where there is light, there will be bugs.” Well, people “swarmed” the miracle worker, but they were not necessarily “submitting” to Christ’s reign! (3:9-10). Friends, we are too often enamored with drawing a crowd rather than calling for commitment. Notice, however, how even the demons address him with the Christological title, “Son of God.” (3:11). They were not confessing; instead, they were reacting out of fear. They knew what they were up against. The demons know who Jesus is, but too many religious leaders do not. These are sobering words from the Word of God. So, how do we apply them?

A Moral Pathway

There was a political debate last evening, which I hasten to add that I was unable to watch. Nevertheless, the news reports this morning stated that the candidates engaged in quite a free-for-all by blasting one another, talking over one another, and ignoring the rules of debate. It was evidently quite a commotion at times. Such is politics, but that scene is only my moral setting and not the point I wish to make. Whether one “likes” Mike, Pete, Amy or Elizabeth, or whomever, is not the issue. The person who will be elected to office will wield tremendous authority to guide or lead astray the nation. The moral implications are profound. How will the elected leader govern beneficially? So, the record of each candidate is important. We must know “who” we are electing and whom we will follow.

Look there was a election of sorts underway in Mark 3. People were choosing and rejecting Jesus based upon their own moral evaluations. However, God elected Jesus and that should tell us something about the Savior's authority (Mark 1:11). The demons knew before “whom” they stood, and they addressed him with his rightful title! Their statement, again, demonstrates his authority. Mark invites us to step out of the chaos and bend the knee to the Creator (cf. Mark 15:39). I’m choosing to follow the one who conquers evil and Shepherds my life with care. How about you?

For Your Journaling

1. Write down “who” you follow? There will be any number of people like bloggers and trainers and even a few writers, teachers, and preachers. They have likely impacted your life in some way, and I applaud their influence. Now, write down the ways that Jesus surpasses them all.

2. Examine the influencer to whom you run first when there is a crisis in your life. Mark places Jesus, the Son of God, before us as the best candidate to bring help, health, and hope into our lives. Write down ways that you intend to worship Jesus supremely.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock