Sabbath, Controversy and More Followers

Mark 3:1-6

Parallel Texts: Matthew 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11

After the scene in the last section where Jesus announces that He is the Lord of the Sabbath, Mark recounts another Sabbath scene, this time in a synagogue, where Jesus heals a man with an injured hand. It seems that there were some present who were interested in causing problems, and Jesus, no doubt being aware of this, asked the injured man to step forward:

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

Mark 3:4

I’m guessing they also remained hopeful…

Jesus healed the man.  Mark tells us in verse 5 that Jesus was angry and distressed at the hard hearts of those who sought an excuse to act against Him… and afterwards, they began to plot to kill Him. Mark tells us that the group consisted of Pharisees and Herodians, who were of the party of Herod, the Vassal king of Judea, son of the guy who slaughtered the infants in Bethlehem.

Mark 3:7-12

Parallel Text: Matthew 12:13-21

With the plot to kill Him underway, Jesus and His disciples go to the Sea Of Galilee, followed by ever-growing crowds of people. Many, maybe hundreds pushed to be close to Him, hoping to be healed, and security became an issue with the pressing of bodies and precautions had to be taken, so great was the rush of the crowds.

People possessed by impure spirits became a problem, as the spirits within them cried out that He was the Son of God, and Jesus silenced them. Can it be any wonder that both the Pharisees and Herodians wanted Jesus out of the way? Neither Herod nor his partisans wanted him deposed and replaced by a legitimate king. The Pharisees, pose another interesting question for us to consider.

It has long been my view, that the Pharisees, of all people should have known exactly who and what they were dealing with in Jesus of Nazareth. As I’ve mentioned before, they knew the prophecies and they knew the timing; they saw the prophecies playing out with Jesus, and though it may sound odd to point this out, they not only had the testimony of John, but that of the impure spirits regarding His identity.

It seems apparent to me, however, that they did not see the Messiah they wanted in Jesus, for they could care less about redemption, they wanted power. Jesus was not the king who would defeat the Romans and rule a powerful and influential Israel with the Pharisees being the center of Jewish life. No sir, they saw a Kingdom that was not an earthly one developing before them, one that would undermine their position instead of strengthening it, so it had to be stopped at all costs.

We all might be well advised to carefully consider what lessons God has for us today in all of this…

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20 thoughts on “Sabbath, Controversy and More Followers”

  1. Don, you have mentioned the Pharisees on a number of occasions. And yet I prefer the word “church” to Pharisees. It – for me – keeps the teaching fresh and relevant. Because I guess the “church” of the time felt they were standing between God and chaos, the world and God, all the sin of man and God – the gatekeepers. Something still in place today so frequently. And something applicable to me as part of the “church” (in whatever definition or preference I might squirm and wriggle with).

    Imagine the chaos that would ensue, who will stop things spiralling out of order, where would it end, the laws and the scriptures would be abused, this “God” seems to let anyone in – even if they don’t recite the correct creed/believe the right tenets/come to the Temple every Sunday/tithe as they should/behave as they should … the King of Creation cannot be this “rabble-rousing crowd-pleaser” – that’s not the “God” we serve – that’s not the God who “fits” as God should.

    (and all that has a much more “now” ring to it)

    1. You make an interesting point, the Pharisees were “the teacher of the law” and were focused on the Mosaic traditions – many did make up the the high ranking members of the Jewish religion but they did not preside in Church activities in the way many think.
      Now the Church did not reject Jesus – the Religious leaders rejected him and that is very different.
      The leadership had moved away from the worship required therefore this led to a point where the honest people would worship in Temple and meet in synagogue.
      Today we have the same the leaders are off on a jaunt but the faithful still recognise the words of Christ and his role in our salvation, they are the congregation or Church not the leaders.

      1. Dear Trotter – one of the many things I have been invited by our Father to redefine is “leadership”. And my personal journey is to find “unconditional love” as a reality – which means losing fear of so many things. One consequence is to accept that “leaders” are no different than me or you. Not unless I allow myself to think they are (and then I make them a “they”). And that is no different to any other “they” we carry around in our box of beliefs. And living without fear?

        The “label” becomes meaningless (along with all the associated excusing reasons for “them and us” being something we are unable to change). And puts me firmly back “on the spot”.

        1. Thank you for the comment Paul however God’s love is not unconditional and he sets leaders – shepherds. We are told by the Apostle Paul that these ones are worthy of honour because they are appointed by Holy Spirit and for as long as they remain faithful we imitate their faith. So I can’t see that you and I will ever find common ground. Just to get things clear anyone can come to God by obeying his commandments and living up to the vow they make, failing to do that alienates us from God and we are judged adversely on that basis.

          1. And thank you for yours, dear T. Never say never is my thought. Stranger things have happened. Like God as Jesus desiring to take residence in each of us. Like grace. Like love that becomes less conditional the less I insulate myself from Him. And if we are both wrong? Imagine spending eternity chuckling together!!

        1. Another fair question I suspect that God’s eternal purpose wouldn’t have been thwarted quite that easily; Jesus had plenty of powerful enemies, like Herod for example.

            1. Yes it is, and equally interesting to note is how often we, even though we see this point, don’t place ourselves in His will and purpose more than we do.

  2. That is the problem even today. They grab land that they believe God gave them (all the way to the Euphrates) and have gone way, way beyond the parcel allotted to them by the UN on May14, 1948. It’s under many different guises, but they still want the power.

  3. “they did not see the Messiah they wanted in Jesus” And yes, we might certainly be advised to consider the lesson in this for all of us today, not just for Israel. Dare I say too many today are trying to make messiahs out of men who would be kings.

  4. The Pharisees were a thorn but without the Political links they would have lacked the authority to have Jesus paraded before Pilate and Herod.

    Their approach to Jesus was a collective answer to the prophetic account which indicated that these would be the ones responsible for executing Jesus. However if you look into the account of the legality of the trial you will find that many of the Pharisees would not have been present on Nisan 14, 15 because of Passover and the Law. The trial was illegal. However the account does say that many Pharisees became followers – openly, this included Paul.

    So we learn that although the group were treacherous individuals understood who Jesus was and why they needed to act and they did.

    The group was foul but the people were saved.

    Power corrupts we are reliably told and Jesus understanding of the Sabbath law prevented him from missing the point of the Sabbath – everything on the Sabbath was focused on worship of God, no greater praise achieved than healing the sick – so real power in operation points to Christ.

    Really enjoyed this post and the comments. Oh and on the Pharisees not executing or conspiring against Jesus – it helps to understand what – “he causes to become” means

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