Getting to Know Jesus: Mark 3

IMG_20150112_152432781

Although Mark’s gospel is shorter than the other three gospels, what it lacks in content it makes up for in action. The book of Mark constantly portrays Jesus as on-the-move. Jesus is going from place to place, teaching, healing, traveling and seeking. Mark uses the word “immediately” about 40 times in this gospel, writing with an intentional sense of urgency. I’ve often wondered why Mark, or the author (as some still affirm its anonymity), chose to write this way. None of the other gospels seem hurried or rushed. Perhaps the author reflects his own fast-paced lifestyle in his writing, perhaps he just likes getting to the point, or perhaps he just wanted to portray an active and passionate Jesus, who made the most of every second he had.

For whatever reason the author writes his gospel with this action-oriented and fast-paced style, it gives us a perspective of Jesus as one who is constantly on pursuit and relentless in bringing good news to a broken world. Nothing can stand in his way.

As we read this passage in Mark chapter 3, getting to know Jesus and His character, He teaches us by example about a natural emotion that all of us are provoked with at certain times: anger. I used to be confused anytime I read this passage and would skip over it thinking, surely Jesus couldn’t have been angry could He? But in studying this passage I’m learning that there are two different types of anger, and the one that Jesus expresses is actually pure in nature not impure.

In Mark 3, we observe two kinds of people: those who are angry over the right things and those who are angry over the wrong things. The Pharisees were angry because Jesus intruded on their religious parade. Jesus was angry at the hardened condition of their hearts. The Pharisees were angry that Jesus would try and heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. Jesus was angry that such death and pain existed. Both were angry. But for very different reasons.

There’s a huge difference between Jesus’ anger and the Pharisees’ anger. The Pharisees were provoked to anger because of their selfishness. Jesus was provoked to anger because of his love and desire for justice. The Pharisees’ anger was impure. Jesus’ anger was pure.

So anger in itself is not a bad thing. If pure, it can motivate us to bring healing and hope to the world. Andy Stanley says that “our greatest ministry will come from our greatest misery.” Anger can provoke great change and compassion. It can compel us to act. This is a holy kind of anger. It is not characterized by animosity, but rather by a discontent for the way things are and a desire to do something about it. Jesus expressed this kind of anger. And it is useful in the Lord’s hands.

But if impure, anger has the power to destroy both others and ourselves. It will eat away at our capacity for love and compassion, making us cold and indifferent to others’ needs as we become fixated on our own. The Pharisees had hard hearts as it says in Mark 3:5 which fueled their anger towards Jesus. And their hard hearts wanted nothing more than for the sick man to remain in his deprivation and unhealthy condition. How sad.That such behavior could manifest such indifference and apathy. This is an unholy kind of anger. And it is not useful at all.

There’s a holy kind of anger and there’s an unholy kind of anger. Which kind do you and I express?

We must evaluate our hearts to discover what makes us angry. If we’re angry about self-seeking issues then our hearts are not in the right place. But if we’re angry about things that also anger the heart of God, then God can use that anger in our hearts to inspire action and redemption for His Name and His renown.

Let us not waste time being angry over things that are not worth being angry over. For it would be far more detrimental than a simple time loss. It would destroy our faith, while eating away at the very fabric of our spiritual lives. But let us develop a holy discontent or a holy anger for anything that breaks the Lord’s heart, that we may be inspired and empowered to do something about it, just like Jesus did.

Let us bring healing where healing awaits. Let us bring hope where hope awaits. Let us bring love and kindness and food and shelter and rescue where it awaits. There will always be those standing in the way telling us not to. But we must not be afraid to be bold and courageous. We must do what is right, even when it’s most difficult to do so.

So as we get to know Jesus in Mark chapter 3, let’s observe the way that Jesus handles anger, both in Himself and with others. For even in the moments where he senses unholy anger from others, He never becomes indignant and outraged. He remains calm. I just love the sensibility of Jesus. If I were in His position, I would probably be so annoyed and shocked and reckless in my defense to prove that I’m right and they’re wrong. But Jesus doesn’t do that. He simply states what is logical and what is right. He doesn’t try to pick a fight. He is confident enough in Himself to not be affected by others’ hatred. Then He moves on to continue in His ministry.

May we learn from Jesus who remains calm and collected despite the chaos. For He embraces the qualities of both a mighty, roaring lion and a humble, lowly lamb. May we let Jesus teach us how to be bold in the face of opposition and tender-hearted all at the same time. May we discover the difference between a holy anger and an unholy anger, and always seek to let the former be our spring board for influencing Godly change in whatever way we can. Then God can use us to bring hope and healing to those in need.

Summary of Mark 3

Jesus enters the synagogue; a man with a paralyzed hand is in the synagogue; the Pharisees watch Jesus because they anticipate Him healing the man, which would break a Sabbath law; Jesus tells the man to stand; Jesus confronts the Pharisees’ contempt; Jesus tells the man to stretch out his hand and it is healed; the Pharisees are extremely angry and leave while plotting with the Herodians how to kill Jesus; Jesus and his disciples go to the sea and many people follow Him; Jesus tells His disciples to prepare a boat for Him since the crowd is getting larger; people possessed with demons fall down before Him confessing Him as the Son of God; Jesus tells them not to make His name known; Jesus goes up on a mountain and appoints the 12 disciples (Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Matthew, Thomas, James, Thaddaeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot); Jesus goes home to Capernaum; crowds follow Jesus; Jesus’ family tries to restrain Him, saying He’s out of His mind; the scribes say that Jesus is possessed by Beelzebul, a demon; Jesus speaks to them in parables saying that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand and Satan cannot drive out Satan; Jesus says that people will be forgiven their sins if they are willing but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven; Jesus’ mother and brother come outside asking for Jesus; the others tell Jesus that they are asking for Him; Jesus declares that whoever does the will of the Father is His brother and sister.

Jesus in Mark 3

Jesus enters the synagogue again (v. 1)

Jesus doesn’t avoid the synagogue though He’s already been criticized by scribes and Pharisees (v. 1)

Jesus notices a sick man (v. 1)

Jesus notices those who are weak and need His healing (v. 1)

Jesus was being watched be the Pharisees (v. 2)

Jesus was a threat to the Pharisees (v. 2)

Jesus was plotted against by the Pharisees (v. 2)

Jesus intimidated the Pharisees (v. 2)

Jesus talks to the sick man (v. 3)

Jesus acknowledges the one whom the Pharisees had ignored (v. 3)

Jesus tells the man with a paralyzed hand to come to Him (v. 3)

Jesus addresses the Pharisees (v. 4)

Jesus knows the Pharisees’ hearts though they remain silent (v. 4-5)

Jesus asks them if it’s good to heal or kill, and to do good or bad on the Sabbath (v. 4)

Jesus will not be restrained by the man-made Sabbath rules of the Pharisees (v. 4)

Jesus cares about people more than man-made rules (v. 4)

Jesus quiets the Pharisees, as they have no response for Him (v. 4)

Jesus looks around at the Pharisees (v. 5)

Jesus was angry (v. 5)

Jesus was sorrowful (v. 5)

Jesus is angered and sorrowful by the hardness of hearts (v. 5)

Jesus tells the man to stretch out his withered hand (v. 5)

Jesus heals the man’s hand as he stretches it out (v. 5)

Jesus’ compassion inspires the man to stretch out his hand (v. 5)

Jesus’ plan will not be stopped by anybody (v. 5)

Jesus works miracles (v. 5)

Jesus is a healer (v. 5)

Jesus irritates the Pharisees by this healing and they leave immediately (v. 6)

Jesus is plotted against by the Pharisees and the Herodians (v. 6)

Jesus is hated by some (v. 6)

Jesus is polarizing (v. 6)

Jesus does not confront the Pharisees in their plotting (v. 6-7)

Jesus withdraws to the sea with His disciples (v. 7)

Jesus is followed by a large crowd (v. 7-8)

Jesus is sought out (v. 8)

Jesus attracts a multitude of people who want to see Him (v. 8)

Jesus told his disciples to prepare a small boat for him so the crowd would not crush Him (v. 9)

Jesus gives instructions (v. 9)

Jesus is in charge (v. 9)

Jesus heals many (v. 10)

Jesus’ followers close in on Him (v. 10)

Jesus attracts all the diseased who desire healing (v. 10)

Jesus is recognized as the Son of God by those possessed by demons (v. 11)

Jesus commands them to not make Him known (v. 12)

Jesus goes up the mountain (v. 13)

Jesus summons those He wants to come with Him (v. 13)

Jesus draws those who wants to come to Him (v. 13)

Jesus appoints and names His 12 apostles (v. 14 &16)

Jesus chooses to do ministry with a close group of men (v. 14)

Jesus advocates community (v. 14)

Jesus desires the apostles to be with Him (v. 14)

Jesus desires to send out the apostles to preach (v. 14)

Jesus desires the apostles to have authority to drive out demons (v. 15)

Jesus is a leader (v. 15)

Jesus is a disciple-maker (v. 15)

Jesus takes time to train up a group of men (v. 15)

Jesus names the apostles, and renames some (v. 16-19)

Jesus goes home to Capernaum (v. 20)

Jesus still attracts the crowd (v. 20)

Jesus’ crowd of followers is so many that they are not able to eat (v. 20)

Jesus’ family tries to restrain Him (v. 21)

Jesus’ family thinks that He’s crazy (v. 21)

Jesus is misunderstood by His family (v. 21)

Jesus knew family drama (v. 21)

Jesus is accused by the scribes to have a demon (v. 22)

Jesus is accused by the scribes to drive out demons by demons (v. 22)

Jesus confronts the scribes by means of parables (v. 23-27)

Jesus challenges the scribes’ illogical argument (v. 23-27)

Jesus declares that Satan cannot drive out Satan (v. 23)

Jesus declares that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (v. 24)

Jesus declares that a house divided against itself cannot stand (v. 25)

Jesus declares that Satan would be finished if he rebelled against himself (v. 26)

Jesus says it is not rational to rob a strong man’s house (v. 27)

Jesus is logical (v. 23-26)

Jesus makes sense (v. 23-26)

Jesus forgives sins (v. 28)

Jesus forgives blasphemies (v. 28)

Jesus cannot forgive blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (v. 29)

Jesus does not tolerate blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (v. 29)

Jesus’ words are appropriate for His audience (v. 30)

Jesus’ mother and brothers come to the house, trying to call out to Jesus (v. 31)

Jesus’ mother and brothers send word to Jesus from outside (v. 31)

Jesus had brothers (v. 31)

Jesus had sisters (v. 32)

Jesus declares that all who do the will of God are His brother, sister and mother (v. 33)

Jesus teaches about spiritual kinship rather than physical kinship (v. 33)

Jesus considers those close to Him spiritually His real family (v. 33)

“After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.”

–Mark 3:5–

Questions for Today:

  • What angers me?
  • Does what I’m angry about end up helping others or hurting others?
  • Would I say that I express holy anger or unholy anger? When and why?
  • Why is it significant to express holy anger?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my walk with Him today?

“Like Incense” by Hillsong Worship

Getting to Know Jesus: Mark 11

IMG_20140728_104148208

As the shortest of the four gospels found in the New Testament, Mark is a simple yet action-packed gospel. Mark writes with a sense of urgency. A sense of imminence. A sense of time running out. This sense of urgency might have been linked to his friendship with the apostle Paul, who is recognized for urging the churches to follow God now and be ready for the return of Christ now. Paul was constantly in a state of urgency during his ministry, saying that the return of Christ was near as he wrote in Romans 13:11-12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28, among other places. Since Mark and Paul became close friends, it makes sense that they both had this contagious sense of urgency for the cause of Christ, which is displayed in their writings. Thus, Mark’s gospel portrays Jesus as constantly on the move, going from place to place working miracle after miracle. Because of this rapid flow and progression of events, Mark focuses on Jesus’ works and deeds in his gospel more than His parables and teachings. Mark initially wrote his gospel for a Roman audience, or gentiles, who had little to no familiarity with Jewish tradition. Mark wanted those unfamiliar with Judaism to know the story of Jesus in terms that were more understandable to them. Mark takes time to explain some of the Jewish customs, while leaving out certain Jewish prophecies that are included, for example, in the gospel of Matthew. Yet Mark illuminates the humanity of Christ in his gospel more so than the others. In the gospel of Mark we get to know Jesus in the midst of his sufferings, while recognizing his divine destiny to die for the sins of man. As we read about Jesus in Mark’s gospel, we see Jesus in action loving others, healing others, and teaching others about God, the coming age and the return of the Son of Man.

Summary of Mark 11

Jesus and his disciples are near to Jerusalem, at Bethpage and Bethany; when they are at the Mount of Olives, Jesus tells His disciples to find a colt for Him to ride on into Jerusalem; a few people ask the disciples what they are doing, but when they say that “The Lord needs it,” they let them go; the disciples spread their cloaks on the colt for Jesus to sit on; the people spread their cloaks and palm branches out on the road, exclaiming, “Hosanna!” (which means: “Save now”) as Jesus rides in; Jesus goes out to Bethany with the 12 disciples; the next day, Jesus walks up to a fig tree, notices it is has healthy leaves but no figs, and so he curses it that no one may ever eat from it again; Jesus enters the temple complex and drives out all the sellers and money-changers because they defile Gods’ temple; the chief priests and scribes see what is going on and plot to kill him; at evening, Jesus and his disciples leave the city; the next morning, they pass the fig tree and see that it is withered to its roots; the disciples are astonished that it is withered already; Jesus begins to tell them that if they have faith, they can do anything, and that if they ask anything in prayer to believe they have received it; Jesus tells them to forgive others before they ask God for forgiveness; then they go back to Jerusalem; the chief priests and scribes challenge Jesus’ authority for teaching; Jesus asks them, “by what authority did John the Baptists teach, from earth or heaven?” and they chief priests and scribes say, “I don’t know”; Jesus says that he also will not tell them by what authority he does things.

Jesus in Mark 11

Jesus sends his disciples to do a task (v. 1)

Jesus instructs them on their task (v. 2)

Jesus reassures them they will succeed (v. 3)

Jesus’ words are trustworthy (v. 6)

Jesus’ words have power (v. 6)

Jesus didn’t need a fancy horse, just a colt (v. 7)

Jesus was welcomed as King by the people who “spread out their cloaks” on the ground for him (v. 7)

Jesus receives respect and honor from His people (v. 8)

Jesus was acknowledged as a King as the people shouted to Him “Hosanna” or “save now” (v. 9)

Jesus is blessed (v. 9)

Jesus comes in the name of the Lord God (v. 9)

Jesus comes to restore the kingdom of David (v. 10)

Jesus is worshipped by the people (v. 9-10)

Jesus enters the holy temple of Jerusalem (v. 11)

Jesus withdraws to Bethany with His disciples (v. 11)

Jesus prioritizes spending alone time with His followers (v. 11)

Jesus gets hungry, reinforcing His humanity (v. 12)

Jesus curses a barren fig tree (v. 13-14)

Jesus drives out sellers and money-changers (v. 15)

Jesus is angered at the misuse of the temple (v. 15-16)

Jesus teaches that God’s temple is to be a place of prayer not a den of thieves (v. 17)

Jesus is hated by the chief priests and scribes (v. 18)

Jesus is feared by the chief priests and scribes (v. 18)

Jesus’ teachings astonish the crowds (v. 18)

Jesus words of either cursing or blessing always transpire (v. 21)

Jesus encourages His disciples to have faith (v. 22)

Jesus inspires His disciples to believe that what they say will come to pass (v. 23)

Jesus reassures His disciples that any request from God is received if one believes (v. 24)

Jesus teaches His disciples to forgive others if they want God to forgive them (v. 25)

Jesus’ polarizing nature causes enemies to challenge Him (v. 28)

Jesus faces challengers when necessary (v. 28)

Jesus is never intimidated (v. 29)

Jesus is in control of the situation (v. 29)

Jesus always outsmarts the enemy (v. 29-33)

Jesus is silent to the hard-hearted (v. 33)

 

“And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” – Mark 11:9-10

 

Questions for Today:

  • What attributes of Jesus stood out to me in Mark 11?
  • Why do you think Jesus was angered by the sellers and money changers in the temple?
  • Am I misusing the temple of God (my heart) in my own life by the things that I do?
  • What is it that God needs to drive out in my life?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him?