Mark 3: Surely He’s Possessed

People were watching to see if Jesus would heal him [a man with a withered hand] on the sabbath, so they could frame a charge against him.  [Standing before them with the man] he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath, or to do evil?  To save life or to kill?”  They stayed quiet.  He was deeply upset at their hard-heartedness, and looked around at them angrily.  [When Jesus healed the man] the Pharisees went out right away and began to plot with the Herodians against Jesus, trying to find a way to destroy him. (3:2-6, editing mine)

Wow!  We are only three chapters into this story and the antagonists are already going for blood!  Mess with power and you will feel the pain!

“They stayed quiet.”  Of course they did.  Side with the law and condone the neglect of the maimed?  Or side with Jesus and de-value the law they held so dearly, too dearly, undermining their own power?  Catch-22.

We use silence to hide.  Inaction is an attempt to skirt the issue.  Just don’t get involved and pass by on the other side of the road.  The Pharisees knew this approach well (remember that Samaritan parable or “picture,” as Wright calls them, 3:23?).

I am convicted today by how Jesus sees a lack of compassion as “hard-heartedness.”  Even when we feel like we have some good reason for it.

What did you find yourself “chewing on” today from Mark 3?

Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

Post navigation

14 thoughts on “Mark 3: Surely He’s Possessed

  1. So the event is held in Sabbath Day, in Synagog.
    3 thing I see in this event,

    1) Jesus go to Synagog, in Sabbath Day, for some reason. Maybe pray or preach as what churches does during Sunday.
    2) Jews have a certain things that they can not do in Sabbath Day, it sound familiar for me, and they set a trap.
    3) Jesus have renew the Jewish tradition with his authority, to heal or to save people even during Sabbath Day. This is new to Jews committee.

    Jews started to plot killing him, so Jesus withdrew. I see Jews do not like to make their hand dirty when then asking helps from Herodians. Jesus escaped, so currently Jesus have healing power.

    Verse 11, it just caught me, “evils spirit” is “unclean human” based on Barnes commentary, i though it was a “demon” or “spirit”. Bible like use parables verse, I need to careful next time.

    Verse 19 – It seem book of Mark is written after Jesus is gone.

    Verse 23 – 30: It quite interesting to read it. Mark concluded the paragraph with “He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit” to answer to verse 29: But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.

    What the meaning of Holy spirit in this verse. It more on parables rather than direct speech. I think the author what to emphasize that holy spirit is another name of God as he described “evil spirit” to Satan.

    • Eddy Efaw

      Hifzan, I like your comment above about the Jews not wanting to get their hands dirty in their plot to destroy Jesus. It seems that they will do this again later in using Judas as well. Interesting thought!

    • You are digging deep! Great!

      Jesus was a Jew. It seems he came as a Jew to Jews intending to redeem the Jewish people and their law-obsessed mentality and return them to a system that still stressed obedience but put a greater emphasis on grace and faith. Jesus wants to turn the Jews hearts back to a reliance on God, not the Law. Jesus is always depicted as working to change Judaism from the inside. So it was only natural that Jesus would be in a synagogue teaching. And he would be expected to follow Jewish laws because he was a Jew.

      Sadly, as we know from history, a great number of Jews in Jesus’ time could never make the adjustments to their thinking that Jesus was proposing, but the Gentiles did when the followers of Jesus started reaching out to them. With time, a split happened between Judaism and Christianity and they are now two different religions.

      So when Jesus “works” on the Sabbath by exerting the effort to heal a man, Jesus has broken the letter of the Sabbath-keeping law of the Jews. But as Jesus said at the end of ch.2, they have missed the point. It is the spirit of the law that matters: the Sabbath was intended to bring freedom and restoration and healing, not become more of a burden. Actually, Jesus was doing exactly what God wanted the Sabbath to do for a person: heal.

      Yes, the book of Mark (and of the the NT) was written after Jesus was gone, probably within 30-50 years later. There would have been numerous oral traditions that circulated until that time.

      Christians consider the “Holy Spirit” to be the third part of the Trinity. The HS is as much a part of God as the Father or the Son/Jesus. Whereas Jesus was a very physical manifestation of God, the HS is a very spiritual version of God. Christians believe that at their baptism they are given a piece of the HS and that he lives within our hearts in some spiritual and mysterious way. Hence, we believe a piece of God lives within us, guiding us and turning us into holy people.

      In 3:23-30, yes, I think you are right to see a contrast between the HS and an “evil spirit” which the Jewish religious leaders say is Satan.

      • What I mean by Holy spirit in this “particular” verse.
        I see verse 23-29 as a dialogue and verse 30 is defensive statement describe what actually happen in v23-29.
        Example: v23, he actually referring “satan” to himself-Jesus (parable)

        v29: But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (again parable)
        v30: He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit. From my understanding this is explanation to above parable (v23-29). v30 is explanation verse, HS is here define as “Divine” or in easy word “God” which describe in parable.

        HS is only parable based on St Mark (my weak understanding)

  2. Eddy Efaw

    I too picked up on Wright’s change from “parable” in 3:23 to “picture.” It’s amazing how a small change like this can get your mind thinking. Parables seem like something that only belong in the Bible and that only Jesus had a supply of them to share. Pictures seem more like something that there could be more of and that we could have some of our own. I can witness/testify/tell others about what Jesus has done in pictures from my own using things that have happened to me and/or metaphors that I (and my “audience”) can understand. Our modern world is very much a world of pictures. I simply need to have “eyes to see and ears to hear” how they can be connected to the Story of God.

  3. Melanie Semore

    I found myself coming back to v. 5. Jesus was both angry and grieved at their hardness of heart. He asked them to choose between compassion for the man and adherence to the law. They didn’t respond because they could not win their own game. It’s supposed to be clear that people are more important than rules, yet how often I find myself ignoring a person to meet some deadline. I’m sure Jesus is also grieved by my hard heartedness.

  4. Pingback: Mark 4: “This is what God’s kingdom is like” « A Kingdom Year

  5. Eddy

    I love how the Message says that the Pharisees “had their eyes on Jesus” and then Jesus told the man to “stand here where we can see you.” It seems that when you’re about to do something that illuminates the heart of God there’s no need at all to hide it (even if it goes against the grain of some misguided tradition.) I’m sure there are times when this may not be the best step within some church contexts but I just found that pretty interesting and I’d never noticed it before in this reading.

    • What I noticed today was something similar. Jesus seems bound and determined to slow down public awareness of his power (the messianic secret, it is called), maybe lest he is whisked into something that his world was not yet ready for (as seems to be happening half way through this passage). At the same time, the injustice of the Pharisee’s version of law was something Jesus felt demanded public attention. It felt like the Pharisees were laying a trap and Jesus willfully walked into it, knowing he could also walk out of it. As someone who doesn’t like confrontation (or at least avoids confrontation because I tend to handle it poorly), I learned today that there are something worth a fight: the oppression of other people under “hard-nosed religion,” as Peterson calls it early in the chapter.

      Which makes me wonder where my spiritual expression is akin to “hard-nosed religion” . . .

      • Eddy

        Good point Jason! I too share your aversion to conflict. I want to be more mindful of being in opposition to the kinds of things that Jesus would oppose here and now . . . In my daily context.

  6. “A constantly squabbling family disintegrates.” How much time do we Christians spent squabbling to the detriment of our witness?

  7. Two purely emotional responses. Oh, to be considered Christ’s friends and family! Obedience makes it so.

    “He wanted them [the apostles] to be continually at his side as his friends.” (3:14)

    “Then looking in the eyes of those who were sitting in a circle around him [followers], he said, ‘Here are my true family members.'” (3:34)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: