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We have seen that the sabbath was made for the purpose of ministering to the needs of men. Now the Lord in the synagogue encountered a man who was in manifestly serious need. But his need meant nothing to the Pharisees compared to their zeal for the sabbath day. Knowing His compassion, they suspect that He will heal the man in spite of their opposition. He does not tell the man to meet Him elsewhere out of sight of the Pharisees, but makes a decided issue of the matter. For they were contesting God's right to show mercy. Having the man stand forth, He asked them a simple question that was fully to the point. Did the law allow one to do good on the sabbath days or to do evil? -- to save life or to kill? So far as they were concerned, they would rather see one die on the sabbath than to see him healed. They would not answer, for they knew that an answer either way would incriminate them, unless they gave up their foolish prejudice.
He looked round about on them with anger. We may be sure that all in turn would avoid His eyes as He did so. But their hearts remained hard. The man, obedient to the Lord's command, stretched forth his hand, which was instantly healed. Seeing such a result, the Pharisees, instead of being rightfully ashamed of their hardness, were all the more hardened in enmity against Him. They reject grace (in which the power of God had been clearly shown) in favor of a cold, stern legality that prefers a withered state. They, the Pharisees, strict, orthodox ritualists, joined with Herodians, who were of a lax, worldly character, in plotting the death of this faithful Servant of God. Their motives were no doubt different, but they shared a common hatred toward Him.
He goes on doing the work of God, now going to the seaside, where crowds followed Him, not only from Galilee, but from further south in Judea, from Idumea (Edom) and east of Jordan, as well as from the west (Tyre and Sidon). Hearing of Him and His great works, people came from every direction and from long distances.
To avoid the crowds He asked His disciples to provide a small boat for Him. It is not here said that He preached from the boat (as in ch.4:1-2), but that because of His healing many, the crowd more intensely pressed upon Him, those specially anxious who had infirmities. Those with unclean spirits were drawn also by the crowds, and crying out that He was the Son of God. Though this was true, yet the Lord did not want the witness of evil spirits, nor was He there to display the greatness of His gory, but in serving mankind, He sought to draw the attention to the Word of God, that men should obey it. Their witness only caused excitement rather than sober exercise of heart and conscience. Therefore He silenced them.
Ascending to a higher level on the mountain, He called His disciples, choosing from them twelve who would first be with Him, then he sent out to preach, with power given them to heal the sick and to cast out demons. The first thing for the servant is always to be in his Master's presence. For this is the source of power as well as the place of instruction. Service must follow this.
In Matthew 10:1-42 these are recorded in groups of two emphasizing their witness to Christ the King, but here the order is different, though Simon is mentioned first, and his surname, then James and John, surnamed Boanerges, "the sons of thunder." Surnames of the others are not recorded here. The first three evidently have a special character, but Judas is mentioned last, and the fact of his being the betrayer.
Though going into a house, they could not so much as eat bread because of the crowds pressing on them. In this section (from verse 7 to 35) there are six obstacles raised to hinder the true service of Christ:
· in verses 7-10 the crowd attracted for merely material ends;
· verses 11-12 unclean spirits feigning friendship;
· verse 19: a false disciple among the true;
· verse 20: personal communion endangered;
· verses 21, 31-35: the influence of fearful relatives; and
· in verses 22-30: the brazen opposition of callous religious men.
How beautiful to see this devoted Servant of God calmly going forward in spite of all this Close relatives (v.21) were alarmed as to His serving God as He did, mistaking His faithfulness for some mental aberration. Though His brothers (who did not believe on Him -- John 7:5) were so deluded, this ought not to have influenced His mother.
Scribes were attracted to come all the way from Jerusalem, for they knew there was manifest spiritual power in the Lord and in His works. Yet in cunning wickedness they attributed this power to satanic activity, asserting that He cast out demons by the prince of the demons. This was transparent nonsense, as the Lord shows them. Satan is not so foolish as to cast himself out. Is he divided against himself? Whether a kingdom or a house, if divided against itself, it will fall. Only a power opposed to Satan would cast Satan out. Moreover, this must be a power greater than Satan. Satan was the strong man who jealously guarded his goods. One must overcome his power first before he can spoil his goods. Satan's power was being manifestly annulled by the superior power of the Lord Jesus, which was therefore clearly the power of God.
The opposition of scribes is consequently seen to stem from vicious, unreasoning hatred, not from honest skepticism. The Lord's words in verses 28-29 are a solemn indictment against this deliberate antagonism toward the Spirit of God. Sin and blasphemy of many kinds might be forgiven (of course where there is repentance), but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven. This blasphemy was that of attributing to Satan what was the manifest work of the Spirit of God. One guilty of this had reached a point so hardened that he would not repent. How awful a state for any man.
The relatives of the Lord ("His brethren") mentioned in verse 21 now come to the house where He was, His mother with them, asking to see Him. Though they could not get in because of the crowd, the word was passed to Him. Of course He knew the reason for which they had come (v.21). Was their natural relationship to Him going to influence Him to cease declaring the Word of God? He asks rather, "Who is my mother my brethren?" Then He insists on the far higher claims of a spiritual relationship. Looking at those who sat to hear His Word, He said, "Behold my mother and my brethren!" He did not leave this matter at only hearing the Word, however, but declared that those who do the will of God were His real relatives: their relationship to Him was vital. Thank God His mother did have this vital relationship to Him also, but she needed the reminder that the mere natural relationship is much inferior to the spiritual.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Mark 3". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29