Mark 3.7-35

Title: Two Families

Text: Mark 3.7-35

Introduction:             With the Religious leaders plotting his death, Jesus flees to the sea (of Galilee). Undeterred, the crowds from everywhere follow him there. So great are these crowds, that Jesus has a boat ready so that he can get away from them lest they crush him. As David fled Saul, many followed him out into the desolate places. So, also many more will follow Jesus (7-12).

 Jesus leaves the seaside and goes up on a mountainside where he picks his 12 disciples. He calls those he desires and appoints 12 to the service of following him closely, preaching and having authority to cast out demons (13-19). In this listing, we meet Judas who is identified as the one who would betray Jesus. This is a reminder of the conspiracy the Pharisees and the Herodians are hatching.

Jesus will leave there and make his way home with his new family. We see them in stark contrast to his birth family who comes to ‘seize’ him. He is evidently an embarrassment to them, for they think he has lost his mind. (20-21)

In this last section we will see the opposition to Christ become public. Mark began with an introduction of Christ and citing multiple witnesses to who Christ is – The Messiah, the Promised Son of God. The 1st chapter continued with the beginning of Christ’s ministry. He picks his 1st 4 disciples and begins doing the work he was sent here to accomplish: preaching, teaching, and healing. And, His popularity explodes. People come from all over to see and hear him. Chapter two transitions to confrontation. The Religious leaders question Christ and all that he is doing. He is doing good works, but he is breaking their rules and this infuriates them. The 2nd chapter reaches it’s climax in the beginning of chapter 3 where the Pharisees conspire with the Herodians to kill Christ.

In our passage today, Mark will draw a firm line in the text to identify those who belong to Christ and those who are against him. First, his family claims he is out of his mind. Then, the scribes claim he is demon possessed – a man with an unclean spirit. His family then makes another attempt to get him; standing outside, they call for him. But Jesus clarifies for us in the final verse who his family really is. (22-35)

This story can be broken down into three movements:

  1. He withdraws to the Sea of Galilee (7) where he continues to have great success in ministry.
  2. He takes his disciples up on a mountain (13) where he selects his 12 disciples to walk with him, preach his message and have authority to cast out demons.
  3. He returns home (20) I suppose to Capernaum, where his family and the religious leaders will confront him. This last section is in the form of what we’d call a Markan Sandwich – family/leaders/family.

Chapter three will establish two groups for us:

  1. The Insiders, those who accept Christ’s authority.
  2. The Outsiders, those who reject Christ’s authority. (3.31-32, 4.11)

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll follow the following outline:

  1. His Success in Ministry
  2. His Successors to his Ministry
  3. Public Opposition to his Ministry

Transition: Let’s take a closer look at…

I.     His Success (7-12)

exp.: I think it is easy to miss where Mark is taking us when we get bogged down in a story; rd v 7; withdrew; Matthew 2.14; Joseph taking his family and fleeing Herod; 1 Samuel 19.10; David fleeing Saul’s missed throw of his spear. Joshua 8.15; a fleeing army; It sounds like Jesus is escaping danger. He goes to the sea; People from everywhere follow him there; So great are the crowds it describes him as possibly being crushed; the messianic secret

ill.: David flees Saul and many go out to him – the riff raff; 1 Samuel 22.2: And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

app.: I’m not sure we would catch this, but those of his readers, familiar with the OT stories of David and Saul might catch this. Many more go out to Christ; many more who are in distress and debt and bitter in soul.

t.s.: So, we see his tremendous success in spite of the fact that he is out and away from the towns and villages; next, we see his successors.

II.    His Successors (13-19)

exp.: rd v 13; He goes up a mountain; They are called to him; I understand this to be a much larger number than just the 12; from this group, he will select the 12; The 12 then, are appointed to three functions:

  1. They might be with him – this is discipleship, pure and simple. We must get younger believers to walk with us to learn what it means to be a Christian. They ate with him, watched him pray, read the Scriptures and explain them; they observed his life.
  2. They might preach his message – κηρύσσω; Proclaimed, announced, made known; We see John the Baptist doing this in chapter one and Jesus, also. 1.14-15; 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
  3. Have authority to cast out demons – I equate this w/ healing and restoration. They’re going to do what he has been doing through these first couple of chapters.

app.: these men will go out in 6.7ff and so just as they’ve been taught.

t.s.: In this 1st section we’ve seen his followers, both the larger group and the smaller group (the 12); in this next section, we’ll see the opposition publicly malign Christ.

III.   His Accusers and Their Accusations (20-34)

exp.: This is where those opposed to him speak out against him publically; rd v 20; He goes home; lit.: a house; must be Capernaum; This is the home base, as we’ve seen, of his early ministry. **The crowd gathers so thick, that Jesus and his disciples can’t even eat – they can’t break bread together. This is due to his popularity and the great need of the people. But this is a reminder to me of all the negative information we get in this section. Check it out:

  • A Conspiracy to destroy Jesus (6)
  • Jesus flees to the desolate places in (7);
  • So thick is the crowd and so desperate for Jesus are they that he orders a boat to be nearby lest he ‘crushed’ (9)
  • Judas is identified as the betrayer in (19), I’m guessing this means the readers this book was intended for know what that means. Judas will join this conspiracy and play a major part in the death of Christ.
  • His family claims he is out of his mind (21)
  • The Pharisees accuse him of being demon possessed (22, 30)

Now in v. 22-34, we see a famous Markan Sandwich; of accusations:

  • His Family rejects his authority; rd v 21; Lunatic
  • The Pharisees reject his authority; rd v 22; Demon possession; possessed by Beelzebul; I think of the father of lies; Liar; I read in one commentary that this is where C.S. Lewis gets his argument for Liar, Lunatic, Lord. I could find no evidence of that.

Jesus then teaches in parables; rd 23a. He calls the Pharisees to himself and tells them parables, explaining the Kingdom of God and those who are outside and those who are inside. He warns them of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

  • His Family comes to retrieve their member, but are publicly rejected by Jesus;

t.s.: this raises another question; there are a few concerning these troublesome passages.

Conclusion: Troublesome passages:

  • The question of the Messianic Secret – Why did Jesus command demons and people to keep quiet about who he was? Things were moving way too fast. His time had not yet come and his hour to be revealed was still in the future. But there is probably more here:
    • Jesus demonstrates his authority over demons and unclean spirits by silencing them. Yes, he casts them out, but they must be obedient to his authority as well.
    • Jesus for some reason has not chosen to use the dark world to reveal who he is. He reserves the right to disclose that. There are times when that is done 1.15, 8.29;
  • What is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? And, Can it be evidenced or experienced today
    • The passage I’m referring to is: 28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit I think is pretty simple: The Holy Spirit is the agent by which someone is drawn to God. The H.S. draws us through presenting evidence of God’s Work in our lives. He reveals truth – and the rejection of that truth and worse, attributing it to darkness is blasphemy. Therefore, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit can be defined as defiant, willful rejection of the Spirit’s work in a person’s life. It is unforgiveable. Here, the religious leaders are warned of what they’re doing.

As we draw to a conclusion in the book of Mark, the religious leaders clearly demonstrate their understanding of who Christ claims to be. They say in 15.32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” That is blasphemy. He will demonstrate further for them, but it would never be enough.

  • The 2nd part of this question deals with today. Can this still happen? Yes, I believe the Holy Spirit is still wooing, drawing people to Christ. The evidence is there; however, people still turn away. One day, he will stop this work and that person will stand before God condemned, because they did not believe in the Son of God.
  • One more word: for those who wrestle with this question (have I blasphemed the Holy Spirit?) I have a word of encouragement. The fact that your conscience bothers you is evidence that the Holy Spirit is still at work. Don’t turn him away. Repent and believe. His family here in chapter 3 is a perfect illustration of those who rejected Jesus at first, but later repented.
  • Let me address how Jesus rejects his family and how awkward that feels. Some folks have a tough time with what Jesus does here. It just seems too disrespectful. Some would quote the 5th commandment (honor parents); Others would say Mary should have known better considering her experience with the birth of the Savior. But, to be fair, Mark hasn’t shared any of that with his readers. I think it is fair to say that his family was deeply concerned for him. In keeping all of this within the context and the framework of Mark’s narrative, his theological purpose is twofold:
  1. To show that even Jesus’ own people did not understand him or his mission (a prelude to his rejection by Israel, i.e., the conspiracy of v6).
  2. To reveal the ultimate priority of spiritual relationships over physical ones (a prelude to the Gentile mission that will follow his resurrection).

App.: I’ve said before and place great emphasis on this once again today: I’m not sure there is anything more important in the church than our relationships. Nothing. We’re family. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ. 1 Tim 5 Paul encouraged: Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.


  1. It is important to connect yourself to Christ and his spiritual family.

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Filed under Leadership, Mark, Scripture, Sermon

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