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Jesus -- the Messiah # 9

Read Mark 3:7-34

Crowds Follow Jesus

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

The Appointing of the Twelve Apostles

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus and Beelzebub

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub ! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables:“How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. 28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!

Now Jesus, the Messiah, moves in an unexpected direction.  The people’s expectation was that the Messiah would accomplish God’s will by force, all alone.  Instead, Jesus the Messiah begins His work of righteousness building His community, His “umma” for the struggle.

We now see Jesus focusing on gathering His group of disciples, those who would help Jesus in His struggle to establish God’s kingdom of righteousness and love on earth.  These are the ones who have recognized, as the evil spirits did, that He was “the Son of God.”  (v. 11)   He chose twelve to be especially trained as “apostles.” (v. 14)  “Apostles” means “sent ones.”  As Jesus had been sent by God the Father to take up the battle for the Kingdom, now Jesus was training and sending others. They were to do what He had been doing:  preaching the Good News and driving out demons.  They were to be calling others into the Kingdom work and battling against the forces of evil.

Once again, as we look at the names of these apostles, we are struck at how diverse the group was.  We already saw how Jesus had called ordinary fishermen and how He had reached out to a tax collector for His inner circle.  Now we see one who is called a “Son of Thunder,” probably referring to his explosive temper.  We see another who was a “Zealot,” one of those militants who were trying to drive out the Romans with violence.  We see Judas who would later betray Jesus. (vv. 17-18)   Jesus was willing to bring any and all into His company, to give them the opportunity to use their lives in God’s service.

When one steps out as God’s servant, often one must move beyond one’s family commitments.  We saw that the fishermen disciples just left their nets.  Levi left his large income from tax collecting.  Jesus faced the same tension with His own family.  They wanted to forcefully bring Him back because they thought His mission taking on the forces of Satan was insane. (v. 21)  Jesus had to make clear that He now had a new, spiritual family that demanded his prime allegiance:  “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (v. 35)

The teachers of the law acknowledged Jesus’ power over the forces of Satan.  They accused him of being in partnership with Satan, for only then could one so successfully command the demonic forces. (vv. 22, 30)  However, Jesus made it clear that He was on a mission of love and righteousness from God, sent to establish God’s Kingdom on earth.  Satan was the “strong man” who had taken the whole world into his possession.  Now Jesus was the stronger one, coming to “tie him up” and “carry off his possessions.”  (vv. 26-27)  He had come to rescue all humankind from the bonds of evil.

The unforgiveable sin, then, was to side with Satan against Jesus. (vv. 28-29)  Jesus had come in the power of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, as the promised Messiah.  Now all must decide if they would recognize Him as the Son of God and join His side or remain with the forces of Satan.

That still remains the question and the decision today, for each of us.  What would be your hesitations to join Jesus’ struggle of love for righteousness?

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