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Mark 3: Confrontation Stories

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Reading: Mark 3

Text
1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."
4 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.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 3:1-6)

Reflecting and Thinking
One can hardly read the first chapters of Mark carefully and analytically without noticing that confrontation with the Jewish authorities is introduced very early in this gospel. The Pharisees are mentioned in each of the four narratives in chapter 2. This chapter continues the confrontation. In fact, today's text concludes by noting that the confrontation was so severe that the religious leaders began plotting the death of Jesus.
Despite the opposition, Jesus continues preaching and we are introduced to another of the mysteries of this gospel. The followers of Jesus, those who should know who Jesus is, do not; and yet the evil spirits recognize him. Jesus forbids the spirits to tell who he was, and he must continually explain to his followers his identity and purpose. This is part of what is known as the "Messianic secret" in Mark's gospel.
In this chapter, Mark also introduces the first of many "follower narratives" that appear through the book. He appoints apostles and redefines what it means to be a part of his family.

Have you ever thought that the situation described in Mark is still true today--that those who should know and understand who Jesus is (the Christians) do not, and that some of those who are outside the church seem to understand Jesus better than the Christians do? What reasons could you give to explain this? Jesus apparently brought about confrontation. Should Jesus' followers today experience confrontation with some around us? If the church is not in clear confrontation with the world about it today, what could explain that?

Prayer
Dear God, teach us what matters and how we can stand up for those things. Help us understand who Jesus is and the power of that belief. Help us understand discipleship so that we can become faithful followers, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.


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Last updated August 16, 2011