Summary: Withdrawing from a Service to service. The setting apart of the Apostles.
EXTENDING THE MINISTRY OF JESUS.
“But Jesus withdrew” (Mark 3:7). After Jesus’ healing of a man with a withered hand, on the sabbath, in the synagogue (Mark 3:1-5); the Pharisees were found ‘immediately’ plotting with the Herodians against Jesus, ‘how they might destroy Him’ (Mark 3:6). Jesus knew that His time was not yet (John 7:30). So, in the words of another Gospel, ‘But WHEN JESUS KNEW (it), He withdrew from thence’ (Matthew 12:15).
So while they plotted, Jesus was extending His ministry. This, too, was another reason why Jesus needed to withdraw from the confines of the synagogue. ‘His own received Him not’ (John 1:11), but there were plenty outside - and even Gentiles in their number (Mark 3:7-8).
Jesus’ popularity among the masses was already evident (Mark 1:45). The throng was such that He had to put a small boat on standby. The more people He healed; the more people wanted to be healed (Mark 3:9-10).
Unclean spirits fell down before Him, identifying Him as the Son of God. Yet He warned them not to make Him known (Mark 3:11-12). (According to Matthew 12:17, this was in fulfilment of Isaiah 42:1-4.)
Moving on and away from all this drama, we find Jesus up on a mountainside, “calling to Himself whom He would, and they came to Him. He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:13-14). The verb ‘to send’ is from the same root as the noun ‘Apostle’.
This ordination was not a mere form or ceremony. It was an empowering, not only to preach, but “to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mark 3:15). The Twelve were given the same power and authority as Jesus had Himself already displayed.
The naming of Twelve has echoes of the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, He surnamed Peter” (Mark 3:16). Simon had been brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew, and Jesus immediately saw his potential (John 1:42). Simon’s famous confession of faith brought forth the explanation (Matthew 16:16-18).
The list of those who were called and ordained is flanked by Peter, who denied Jesus (Luke 22:61) but was lovingly restored (John 21:15-17); and by “Judas Iscariot, which betrayed Him” (Mark 3:19). This was not something which was going to catch Jesus by surprise (cf. John 6:70), but it is painful, nevertheless. The others, too, deserted Him in His hour of need (Matthew 26:56).
James and John, He surnamed “The sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). No doubt they were fiery characters when Jesus met them, as indicated by their wanting to call down fire from heaven - which Jesus mercifully rebuked (Luke 9:54-56). James went on to be the first of the Apostles to be martyred (Acts 12:2). John later came to be known as ‘the Apostle of love’, and has four beautiful books in the New Testament canon.
Which all goes to show that Jesus takes ordinary people like ourselves, and is able to mould us into something much better. If we endure to the end, we shall be saved (Matthew 24:13). And though the way that we walk is hard and rugged, yet He is with us - always (Matthew 28:19-20).