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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings

Reflective Bible Study.

Flashback Episode — Facing Opposition: Mark 3:1-12

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Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 6: When Jesus visits a synagogue and sees someone who is disabled, discover how He handles the situation, and how the question He asks the Pharisees is answered not through words, but instead through their actions.

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Read the transcript:

In Jesus’ ministry, we don’t have to look far to discover places where Jesus challenges the preconceived ideas of the religious teachers. As we move through Mark’s gospel, not much of the year has gone by and we already see the religious leaders shifting into opposition-mode regarding Jesus’ ministry. In the event we are focusing on in this episode, we will discover how these religious leaders orchestrate an event in an attempt to catch Jesus doing something wrong.

Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 3, and we will read from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 1:

1 Then Jesus went back to the synagogue, where there was a man who had a paralyzed hand. 2 Some people were there who wanted to accuse Jesus of doing wrong; so they watched him closely to see whether he would cure the man on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man, “Come up here to the front.” 4 Then he asked the people, “What does our Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To help or to harm? To save someone’s life or to destroy it?”

But they did not say a thing. 5 Jesus was angry as he looked around at them, but at the same time he felt sorry for them, because they were so stubborn and wrong. Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it became well again. 6 So the Pharisees left the synagogue and met at once with some members of Herod’s party, and they made plans to kill Jesus.

Pausing our passage briefly, I find it fascinating that this man with a paralyzed hand happened to be at this synagogue when Jesus was there, and also when some people who wanted to accuse Jesus were there too. This event appears to be a set up if there ever was one.

However, an amazing parallel I see in this first part of our passage is in Jesus’ question, contrasted with the Pharisees’ response. Jesus asked those present in verse 4, “What does our Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To help or to harm? To save someone’s life or to destroy it?” Contrast this with verse 6, where Mark tells us that “the Pharisees left the synagogue and met at once with some members of Herod’s party, and they made plans to kill Jesus”.

The Pharisees leave the synagogue and immediately they meet with some people from Herod’s supporters to make plans to kill Jesus. Because this happened immediately, we can conclude that these Pharisees met to plot against Jesus on the Sabbath, and that means that the answer to Jesus’ question in the minds of these religious leaders was that their law allowed them to harm others and to destroy life on the Sabbath instead of helping or saving life. This is what the actions of these Pharisees show.

In contrast, Jesus’ question and Jesus’ actions throughout His ministry answers the question of the Sabbath saying that it is lawful to help people regardless of the day, and it is always lawful to save someone’s life regardless of the day of the week it is.

However, Jesus knew what these leaders were plotting. Continuing reading in verse 7:

7 Jesus and his disciples went away to Lake Galilee, and a large crowd followed him. They had come from Galilee, from Judea, 8 from Jerusalem, from the territory of Idumea, from the territory on the east side of the Jordan, and from the region around the cities of Tyre and Sidon. All these people came to Jesus because they had heard of the things he was doing. 9 The crowd was so large that Jesus told his disciples to get a boat ready for him, so that the people would not crush him. 10 He had healed many people, and all the sick kept pushing their way to him in order to touch him. 11 And whenever the people who had evil spirits in them saw him, they would fall down before him and scream, “You are the Son of God!”

12 Jesus sternly ordered the evil spirits not to tell anyone who he was.

The way this passage concludes reminds us of some things we looked at earlier. When given the opportunity to speak, Jesus quickly silenced the evil spirits claim about Jesus being the Son of God. As we have already seen, it is never wise to listen to evil spirits, even if what they are saying is truthful. An evil spirit is never a trustworthy source of information.

In both parts of this passage, we discover that Jesus is gaining popularity because of what God is doing through Him, and this popularity irritated some of the religious leaders. While some religious leaders were likely jealous of Jesus’ popularity because they would rather be popular like Jesus, I also believe some of these leaders were jealous of Jesus because they wished they could do what Jesus did.

Other religious leaders were probably hostile towards Jesus because they were more afraid of Rome noticing what was happening and misinterpreting Jesus’ ministry as being a Jewish-sponsored movement worth crushing. If Rome believe the Jews were behind Jesus’ movement, they would not only target Jesus and His followers, but also everyone else present as well. These religious leaders saw the power in Jesus’ popularity and they likely wanted to distance themselves from being targeted if this movement failed.

However, I’m sure these fearful leaders would have completely flipped and supported Jesus if Jesus had actively expelled the Romans. These leaders would have opposed Jesus publicly until a new nation was formed and then they would try to rewrite their history claiming to have secretly supported Him all along.

But the problem with all this speculation is that God isn’t interested in support only when things are going well. God is worthy of being praised and given glory even when things are not going the way we might want them to go. While huge crowds followed Jesus because He was interesting and because He healed and helped people, everyone deserted Jesus when the religious leaders get their chance to arrest Jesus under the cover of night.

When we choose to follow Jesus, we are called to follow Jesus through the good times and the challenges, through the triumphs and the trials. God is much bigger than our problems and with His help we can move through anything and everything. While God does not promise His people a life without trials, God does promise us that with His help, we are better equipped to handle whatever life throws our way.

When we side with Jesus, know that there will be people who stand up against us because of our decision, but also keep in mind that Jesus wasn’t immune to opposition either. Jesus probably faced more opposition in His life than anyone else ever in history. When we face opposition, we can know that with whatever challenges we face in this life, we will be rewarded when Jesus returns to bring us home and into His kingdom!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to trust in Him regardless of the trials and challenges that come your way. Know that when challenges come, Jesus faced worse challenges and abuse, and even if remembering this doesn’t make our situation easier, know that Jesus understands what we are facing because He has faced similar trials. Jesus overcame the trials and challenges in His life and He opened the way for us to be saved!

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Don’t take a speaker, pastor, author, or even a podcaster’s word for what the Bible teaches. Pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow personally closer to God each and every day.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or let other people push you out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

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