Summary: Compassion comes first with Jesus.
The gospel writers did not record for us every moment of the life of Christ. At the end of his account, John tells us that “...there were also many other things which Jesus did...”. And supposes that if they were all written in detail the world would not contain the books.
That may be a stretch of reality for the sake of making his point, but we can surmise by what we do read that during the more than three years of Jesus’ ministry, His every waking moment was spent in the establishing of God’s Kingdom.
Since we know that the writers were eye witnesses, and that they were inspired by the Holy Spirit in their writing, it is important that we study carefully to understand the reasons God preserved the things He did preserve for us in scripture.
With that in mind, please consider the many times throughout the gospels that the writers contrast the life and thinking of Jesus with that of the religious elite of the day. The Pharisees.
The Pharisees were one of the leading religious sects in Judaism. The primary difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, as I understand it, is that the Pharisees looked for a future resurrection, and the Sadducees did not. As had been said many times, “That’s why they were so sad...you see...
There is much more information available about these two groups, but it is primarily Pharisees that we see in conflict with Jesus during His earthly ministry.
They had a form of religion with no power; His ministry had power because God was with him, influence on the common man because in Him they saw mercy and love, and rightness with God because He did always those things pleasing to the Father.
They trusted in the Law and the keeping of the Law to save them; He, the giver of the Law, knew that it was but a tutor pointing men to His coming, and he knew that a true relationship with God is based on Love and Grace and Faith, and that from those things obedience to His decrees springs forth.
They were proud, He was humble. They were spiritually blind, He was the light of the world. They placed extreme importance on ritual and the keeping of the Sabbath, He taught that those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth, and He is Lord of the Sabbath.
That last point brings us to the account we will focus on here.
I’m going to read these verses from Mark 3, but first let me direct your attention to the last section of chapter 2.
In the area of Capernaum Jesus had been teaching and healing and forgiving sins; during which time He was also under the constant scrutiny and verbal abuse of the Pharisees.
They criticized Him for telling the paralytic that his sins were forgiven, for associating with social outcasts, for not instructing His disciples to fast, and finally, here at the end of chapter 2, for allowing his disciples to harvest grain to eat on the sabbath.
Jesus answers their grievance with scripture (an excellent lesson for us all), then declares in verses 27 & 28:
“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
Consequently, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Let’s read our text. Mark 3:1-6
Now I want you to see today, THEIR HARDNESS OF HEART, then, THE PLIGHT OF VICTIMS OF EMPTY RELIGION, and finally, THE COMPASSION OF OUR LORD
Hardness of heart is a sneaky and dangerous enemy of our soul. By its very nature, the greater the progress of the disease, the less we are aware of its presence and the less we are apt to seek a cure.
In describing the plight of the godless in Ephesians 4, Paul ascribes to ignorance and hardness of heart, these symptoms: futility of mind and darkened understanding, and the outcome; exclusion from the life of God.
In Hebrews 3:13 the writer admonishes believers to encourage one another daily, and in so doing prevent each other from being “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”.
Jesus, in another place, told the Pharisees that the laws they drew on to justify themselves in divorce, were only given to them because of the hardness of their hearts. At the end of Mark’s gospel, we see Him chastising his own disciples, after His resurrection, because they did not believe the others’ reports that they had seen Him alive...
...and it says, “...He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart!
Hardness of heart against anyone we claim to love is always damaging to the closeness of that relationship. I needn’t expound on that further. The term ‘hardness of heart’ says it all.
But hardness of heart against God, according to the scriptures, is an expression of unbelief. It is deliberate rebellion against His authority, denial of His promises, refusal to surrender, rejection of His love. It is no wonder that Jesus was both grieved and angry.