Summary: When the religious authorities fail in their attempt to trip up Jesus with the Scriptures they descend to character assassination. They come dangerously close to eternal separation from God. How can that happen?
No one could deny that Jesus was different than anyone who had ever walked the earth. The words He spoke rang true and reamed His opponents. His actions were unmatched—healing, setting people free from possession and disease. His enemies, the Jewish leaders of the day, tried to trip Him up and discredit Him by showing He was a lawbreaker, but none of it stuck. What do you make of a man who says and does such outlandish things? Either you are attracted to Him, as we’ll see in the rest of Chapter 3, or you are repulsed by Him and label Him as crazy or possessed.
In this section we see four groups of people and four different reactions to Jesus. The crowds want something from Him and nearly crush Him to death to get it, His family thinks He’s gone mad, the scribes claim He’s possessed, and His disciples respond to His call and follow Him with a specific mission.
7 – 9
Remember, this takes place in Capernaum. Word of Jesus’ healing power is spreading like wildfire and people are taking to the roads and highways from the entire region. They had to walk so the journey would take a while. But their needs were so compelling that Capernaum swelled with their presence.
Down at the shore so many people crowded around that Jesus was in danger of being crushed. So He had a boat on stand-by for a quick exit if needed.
10 – 12
You can just picture the crowd—pushing and shoving and jostling to get close enough to touch Jesus. It reminds me of what we see sometimes with our present day celebrities or sports heroes—people will do anything just to touch them. In this case they were in the presence of the ultimate hero and finding out that touching Jesus meant healing. That drove them all the more. Even the demon possessed couldn’t stay away and the demons could not help falling down before Him to declare that He was the Son of God. But Jesus wasn’t ready to make that known and certainly didn’t need their endorsement, so He quieted them again.
Contrast this scene of confusion with what Jesus does next:
13 – 15
Out of all the crowds following Him, Jesus called or summoned a select few up on a mountain. Have you been summoned by Jesus to follow Him? This group did and discovered that Jesus’ call held three things: they would be with Him, even as salvation through Jesus gives us access to God anytime; they were sent to preach just as we are commissioned to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth; and they were given authority, even as Jesus has given us all things we need to accomplish His will. Mark next lists the 12:
16 – 19
The twelve were not chosen because of their faith, their backgrounds, or their abilities. They were chosen because they answered the call and would obey their master. Nothing more is required of us. Jesus supplies everything else we need by OJT: On the Job Training.
Twelve is akin to the twelve tribes of Israel, but represents a new work.
Simon (Simeon) was given an additional name: Peter (Cephas) which means “rock.”
James and John were given the moniker: Sons of Thunder because they were a bit judgmental and short-tempered. James would be the first of the Apostles to die, John would be the last. They may have been distant cousins of Jesus.
Andrew was Peter’s brother and a disciple of John the Baptist.
Philip and Bartholomew (Nathaniel) probably knew Peter because they were both from Bethsaida.
Matthew is Levi, the tax collector. Thomas was a tough guy but a skeptic, until he saw the risen Christ. Simon the Zealot was not a member of the Zealot party as that didn’t come about until A.D. 68 but was zealous for God.
Judas Iscariot came from Kerioth in southern Judah and was the only non-Galilean in the group.
Next Jesus returns home, but controversy follows Him.
20 – 21
Jesus probably went back to Peter’s house but they couldn’t even sit down to a meal because so many people demanded His presence. When word got back to Jesus’ family they agreed that He must have gone mad so they attempt an intervention to save Him from Himself. It’s silly as we sit on this side of the cross, but they simply couldn’t accept the fact that their brother could be anything but an ordinary person who was out of his gourd.
What does your family think about your decision to follow Christ? I know some of my family thought it was just a phase I was going through. You may have had much stronger reactions.
Jesus said: I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man's enemies will be the members of his household. (Matt 10:34-36)