Opposition Rising

Read: Mark 3:7–12. By the end his first year of public ministry, the influence of his ministry has spread throughout all Palestine. The primary cause of its explosive growth was his ministry of physical healing and demonic deliverance.

People often come to Jesus for what they can get from him, rather than what they should give to him.

 
This is still a problem today. What brought you to Jesus? What do you bring to him?
 

Read: Mark 3:13–19. Jesus did not choose these twelve to be his disciples because of their faith—it often faltered. He didn’t choose them because of their talent and ability—no one stood out with unusual ability. The one characteristic they all shared was their willingness to obey Jesus.

Jesus still qualifies the unqualified to serve His mission.

 
Within the call of Christ is the ability to live up to that call.
 
Their companionship with him is to lead to service that benefits others. They are not merely on the receiving end of this outbreak of power but are to become channels by which it touches others. A byproduct of being with Jesus is ministering to others as Jesus did.
 
Read: Mark 3:20–21. Thinking he had gone “over the edge” as a religious fanatic, his family came to him. They decided he had truly gone out of his mind with this “Messiah stuff” and that they needed to take charge of him. Do you have family misunderstandings? Jesus knows what that feels like! Read:
 
Mark 3:22–27. In an attempt to destroy Jesus’ popularity among the people, the scribes accused him of having power from Satan. In fact, they say that he is possessed by none other than Satan himself.
 
He would debunk their nonsense in parables. Jesus called Satan a strong man in this parable. The only way those possessions could be carried off would be for someone to first tie up the strong man—the only way for the demons to be cast out is for someone to first limit Satan’s power. Jesus’ coming into the world did just that. See 1 John 3:8.
 

The Holy Spirit within us is stronger that the power of Satan around us.

 
Read: Mark 3:28–30. Jesus introduces the concept of the unpardonable sin in this passage. Before we get to the unpardonable sin, the good news that Jesus shares first is that people can be forgiven all their sins. Too often people miss this promise and worry about the warning in the next verse. But the fact is, those who believe in Jesus will be forgiven of all sins and of all blasphemies.

When there is confession and repentance, no sin is beyond God’s forgiveness.

 
So what is the unpardonable sin? Generally speaking, it is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit refers not so much to a single action or word as to an attitude. Sometimes believers worry that they have accidentally committed this unforgivable sin. But only those who have turned their back on God and rejected all faith have any need to worry. Jesus said they can’t be forgiven—not because their sin is worse than any other, but because they will never ask for forgiveness.

Worry about committing the unpardonable sin is evidence you haven’t committed it.

 
Read: Mark 3:31–35. Jesus opened this relationship to all people.The types of people who can have a relationship with him are those who listen, learn, believe, and follow. We are not saved into facts or rules or a system of worship or a cult of followers, we are saved into a family.

Jesus’ true family are those who hear and obey his words.


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Lord of the Sabbath

Read Mark 2:18-22.
 
Jesus is the new cloth and the new wine. He is not an attachment, addition, or appendage to the status quo. He cannot be integrated into or contained by preexisting systems of religion.
 

Jesus isn’t offering you a religious patch but a whole new spiritual paradigm.

 
He came to introduce the new, not to patch up the old.
 
Question: What ways have you made Jesus a patch?
 
Read Mark 2:23-27.
 
The Sabbath proclaimed that God is Lord of creation and time. It was instituted upon the completion of the creation of the world. God created over six days and rested on the seventh. It was designed to be a day of rest and worship.
 
Years later, Moses would receive the Ten Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai. The fourth commandment had to do with the Sabbath day. See Exodus 20:8-11.
 
As Lord of the Sabbath, He determines what is lawful and unlawful on the Sabbath day. When Jesus says, “I am the Lord of the Sabbath,” Jesus means that he is the Sabbath. See Matthew 11:28-30.
 
On the cross at the end of his great act of redemption Jesus said, “It is finished”—and we can rest. If you rely on Jesus’s finished work, you know that God is satisfied with you.
 

A relationship with the Lord of the Sabbath gives us rest from religion forever.

 
As Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus releases us from legalistic pressure and frees us to joyful obedience. The joyful obedience of Jesus to his Father’s plan sets up the context for the next conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.
 
Read Mark 3:1-6.

The Pharisees were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus — he was a threat that needed to be shutdown. Healing, they argued, was practicing medicine, and a person could not practice his or her profession on the Sabbath.
 
So they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. There is a danger in watching Jesus closely without knowing him personally. Knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing Jesus.
 
What did these religious leaders have to lose if Jesus healed this man? Jesus’ ministry of compassion and power, grace and truth, exposed the powerlessness of their legalistic system of religion. It also challenged the power play these religious men held over the people.
 

You can believe that you are all about God and yet miss what God is all about.

 
God is a God of people, not of rules. The best time to reach out to someone is when he or she needs help. God’s law for the Sabbath was never meant to keep people in bondage. The Sabbath, while an important day given to God’s people as a day of rest and worship, was also a day to be merciful and kind to those in need.
 

Jesus shows that human need is more important than ritual observance.

 
See Matthew 12:7–8.
 
The gospel of Christ must maintain the central place of your life and faith, otherwise you will substitute it with a shallow, self righteousness.
 

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Radical Forgiveness

Jesus offers radical forgiveness in impossible situations to improbable people.
 
Read: Mark 1:40-45 (Jesus Heals a Leper)
 
Read: Mark 2:1-12 (Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man)
 
Jesus’ radical forgiveness only offends those who haven’t truly experienced it themselves.
 

Jesus offers radical forgiveness in impossible situations to improbable people.

 
Read: Mark 2:13-14 (Jesus Calls Matthew to Follow Him)
 
Jesus invites unlikely people to follow him into unlimited potential.
 
Read: Mark 2:15-17 (Jesus Eats with Sinners)
 
Jesus puts Good News within reach of those broken by sin to offer them spiritual healing.
 

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The Authority of Jesus

Jesus deserves absolute authority over all of my life.
 

Mark 1:21-22 — Jesus’ Authority in Teaching.

 
The people were amazed at his teaching. They immediately saw a contrast between the teachings of Jesus and those of “the scribes.” Jesus taught with passion and power. Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus taught but it was more than likely a message of Good News.
 
Jesus’ authority derives from the Spirit of God, who came on him at the baptism. The crowds detect that one is in their midst who speaks for God and not simply about God, as the scribes do.
 
Your faith is not based on powerless moral teaching. It is based on the very person and power of Jesus, the Son of God. The Holy Spirit continues to be that powerful teacher within us as we read the Bible and listen for His leading. See John 14:25-26; John 16:12-13. Do you regularly submit to the authority of Christ’s teaching? Do you yield to the authority of the Holy Spirit?
 

Mark 1:23-28 — Jesus’ Authority Over Demons.

 
How often had that man gone to synagogue and the teaching was powerless to set him free? Could it be that the Law was powerless to release this man from the demonic power? But this day, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit and Power, taught the Gospel message — a message about the kingdom of God and the power of God to set men free.
 
Jesus didn’t come destroy demons. He came to destroy the power of sin and evil through his death and resurrection. Through this act of sacrifice, redemption, and salvation he would completely triumph over the power of hell. See Revelation 1:18; Hebrews 2:14-15. When Jesus commanded, the demon obeyed. Demons are expelled, and broken people are made whole. This is God’s kingdom. This is what the great King can do. This is why He should have absolute authority in your life, my life, and every life.
 

Mark 1:29-34 — Jesus’ Authority Over Sickness.

 
Peter’s mother-in-law proves that she has fully recovered by waiting on them, a sign of her physical wholeness and her spiritual responsiveness to Jesus. This miracle reveals that God heals so that one may better serve. Serving is also a characteristic of discipleship, which Jesus tries to get across with some difficulty to his disciples.

Jesus was going to show himself to be the suffering Servant before he became the great King. It is a recurring theme in Mark’s Gospel for Jesus to conceal his true identity. To reveal himself as the Messiah and King too soon would stir up the crowds with the wrong expectations of what he had come to do. To serve the needs of others was never beneath Jesus, the One who had ultimate authority over others. See Mark 10:43-45.
 

Mark 1:35 — The Key to Jesus’ Authority.

 
During his ministry on earth, Jesus was in constant prayer with the Father. This shows us the key to Jesus’ authority. Even though He was the Son of God, He still wanted and needed those times of intimate fellowship with the Father that only comes through prayer.
 
We must follow Christ’s example by carving out time for worship and prayer. We, too, should pray for strength to fulfill Christ’s mission. See John 14:10-12.
 

Mark 1:36-39 — Jesus Refuses to Misuse His Authority.

 
Like so many today, they wanted a Jesus of their liking, a Jesus who would perform miracles and fit into their agenda. He knew the multitudes were pressing to the door looking for healing, not for truth. His primary mission was to bring people to a place of decision to have faith in God, not merely to remove their pain. Yes, Jesus was a healer of men’s bodies. But that was only temporal part of his work. He was the Savior of men’s souls — an eternal work. He was not going to misuse his authority for a lesser mission. We, too, have authority for Christ’s mission. Do we misuse it for our own selfish purposes? See Matthew 28:18-20.
 

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The Beginning of the Good News

Mark 1:1 — Opening verse is basically a summary statement of the entire Gospel. For Mark, the purpose of writing was to convey a crucial message, the life-changing Good News about Jesus Christ. Paul would later write to the same Roman audience about the power of this Gospel. See Romans 1:16.
 
Both Christ and Messiah referred to One divinely appointed and anointed by God for a special mission. See Mark 10:45. But make no mistake. While he came as a servant, he was also the One True Son of God. He alone was fully man (Jesus), God’s anointed One (Christ), and fully divine (Son of God). Right at the opening we are confronted with Jesus Christ the Son of God. The reader/hearer is going to have to respond in some way. He either is who he says He is and deserves all our lives, or he is not. There is no middle ground.
 
Mark 1:2–3 — These verses are a composite quotation borrowing from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Pictures the custom of sending servants ahead of a king to level and clear the roads to make them passable for his journey. John’s preaching helped to prepare the people — to clear away the spiritual debris and straighten any “crooked” moral paths.
 
Mark 1:4 — For 400 years, there has not been a prophet in Israel. It was believed that when the anticipated Messiah came he would be preceded by a prophet. See Luke 1:16-17. Mark pictured John the Baptist as a herald proclaiming news of the coming King, the Messiah. Important Roman officials of this day were always preceded by an announcer or herald. See Matthew 3:1-2. Repentance has two sides: turning away from sins; turning toward God. To be truly repentant, people must do both.
 
Mark 1:5 — Many significant events took place around the Jordan. It was by the Jordan River that the Israelites rented their covenant with God before entering the Promised Land (Joshua 1-2). Here John the Baptists calls them to renew their commitment with God again, this time through baptism.
 
Mark 1:6 — He dressed like the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8).
 
Mark 1:7 — John’s message was all about Christ. John knew his place. See John 3:28–30. In Oriental households, a lowly slave untied the sandals of guests and then washed their feet.

Mark 1:8 — The coming of the Spirit had been prophesied as part of the Messiah’s arrival. See Ezekiel 36:26-27; Joel 2:28-29. This looked ahead to Pentecost (Acts 2), when the Holy Spirit would be sent by Jesus. When Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, the entire person would be transformed by the Spirit’s power. Jesus would offer both forgiveness of sin and the power to live for him. We need more than repentance to save us; we need the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
 

The good news is that Jesus, Son of God, came to forgive our sins and fill us with the Holy Spirit.

 
Mark 1:9 — Why was Jesus baptized by John? To confess sin on behalf of the nation (as prophets had done); to fulfill all righteousness in order to accomplish God’s mission and advance God’s work in the world (Matthew 3:15); to launch his public ministry; to identify with sinful people; and to give us an example to follow.
 
Mark 1:10 — The “splitting” of the heavens presents God’s intervention into humanity in the human presence of God in Jesus Christ. The descending of the Spirit signified God’s workings in the world; the arrival of the Messiah would have been marked by the descending of the Spirit, in this case, in the form of a dove. See Luke 4:18-19.
 
Mark 1:11 — Notice this was even before he started his public ministry – no preaching, no miracles, no ministry yet. We are considered children of God. That same pleasure rests on us.
 

The good news is that God the Father loves you and His favor rests on you.

 
Mark 1:12-13 — The episode began with the Spirit’s guidance. This shows that God’s leading does not always guarantee safe circumstances. God’s Spirit will lead us, as he led Jesus, into the places we need to go, even though they may be difficult. See Hebrews 2:17–18.
 

The good news is that Jesus understands our temptation and will help us when tempted.

 

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