Each week throughout the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, we will have a guest post from various pastors, church planters, missionaries, professors, bloggers, etc. I will always post them on Tuesdays. This week, Shane Stacey has provided his reflections on Mark's third chapter.
Shane has been involved in student ministry for 19 years. He currently serves as the EFCA National Director of ReachStudents. He lives with his wife and three children in Minneapolis, Minn.
On a personal note, I (Jeremy) have a great deal of respect for Shane. He has been a friend and a mentor for many years in my life. He officiated my wedding, we have partnered in ministry together, gone overseas together and encouraged one another in this journey of life. I pray you are blessed by his reflections on Mark Three.
Where are we?
As we look at Mark 3, it should be noted that the events of this chapter take place about 12-18 months after John the Baptist baptized Jesus (see Mark 1). Over that last year-plus Jesus moved from his hometown of Nazareth, where he had been rejected (Luke 4), to Capernaum (Matt. 4:13), a small fishing village on the north end of the sea of Galilee. The reason Jesus chose this village is probably because the Holy Spirit had given him favor with a few men who lived there who would become some of his early disciples, namely young John, Philip, Andrew, Nathanael, and James (see John 1:29-50). Jesus adjusted his life to move into the world of those with whom the Spirit was giving Him favor. Capernaum became the home base of Jesus’ ministry. In fact, most of the activity in the first 1-2 years of ministry takes place in and around Capernaum.
The reason I note this is because it only takes us a few minutes to read from chapter 1 to chapter 3, but we should be aware that in the flip of the page nearly 18 months has passed. Jesus has invested a lot of time in the twelve men that are going to be named later in the chapter.
A Turning Point
Mark 3:6 notes a pivotal moment. Continuing to feel threatened by Jesus and agitated that He does not follow the traditions, the Pharisees begin their plot to kill Jesus. Jesus knows that his time on the earth is very limited. The cross is speeding towards him. He’ll soon finish the work of redemption and depart. Who will carry on the movement once He leaves? Chapter 3 shows us Jesus’ ongoing intent to invest in those who will carry on the movement after he is gone.
What does this chapter tell us about who Jesus is?
In this chapter, we see Jesus’ goodness expressed in his compassionate awareness and care for the real needs of everyday people (vv. 1-6, 9). He is not only good but he is also powerful, having authority both to heal as well as overcome the dark kingdom (vv. 11, 23-25). And in verses 31-35, we see that Jesus is not merely building a kingdom, He is building a family. Therefore, Jesus is able to meet our physical, spiritual and emotional needs.
What does this chapter tell us about what it means to follow Jesus?
Jesus’ intention for those who follow him does not change through the gospels. Back in Mark 1:17, Jesus called his disciples to “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
In Mark 1 we saw that Jesus emphasized following Him, which means making Jesus central in every nook and cranny of our lives AND that his intention is to make –or change—us from the inside out so that we invest in others to help them do the same.
“And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.” Mark 3:14-15
Here in Mark 3, Jesus is keeping his promise. At this point in the journey He begins to emphasize the later half of his promise—namely, to make them fishers of men. He appoints them to be apostles or, more simply, sent ones. Following Jesus means that we will become sent ones (fishers of men).
But notice that you can’t be sent unless you are “with Him”. Don’t miss this! Jesus never changes his call or intention for his disciples. The pattern is always the same: Follow AND fish… be with AND be sent.
One way I like to say it is that Jesus intends for us to bear WITNESS of Him to others out of the overflow of our WITHNESS—our being with Him. You cannot bear witness well of one you do not know intimately.
FYI: A few words worth understanding in 1st century context:
Disciple: a follower; literally and most simply, a learner
Apostle: a sent follower, literally and most simply, a sent one
To preach: a herald announcing a special guest has arrived
Authority: spiritual authority for spiritual conflict
What in particular stands out to you from this chapter in Mark?
Two things stand out in particular for me in this chapter. First, Jesus is not simply gathering followers but rather has a clear vision that every disciple would also be a sent one. You may even go so far as to say that Jesus intends every disciple to be a disciplemaker.
Second, I love that Jesus is very intentional about naming names (see vv. 16-19). Although we notice his ministry among the vast crowds look how intentional he is with pulling a few close. If Jesus is able to name the names of those He is intentionally drawing close into a disciplemaking relationship then I want to be able to do the same.
Questions for Application:
What do you think Jesus had in mind when He said He wanted the disciples to “be with him”? What about his intent for them to “be sent”?
Do you wrestle more with the “being with” or the “being sent” aspect of following Jesus? Why?
The word apostle used by Jesus means “sent ones”. How does the destiny of being labeled “ones who will be sent” affect the way the disciples would have followed Jesus?
How does your destiny as a disciple who is sent to be a disciplemaker change the way you draw close to Jesus and your friends?
Who is the Holy Spirit specifically inviting you to pull close into a disciplemaking relationship inside your home and outside your home?
What is the Spirit of God saying to you about your next step in being a “be with/be sent” disciple?
Final note: Mark 3:28-29 is a portion of text that is often confusing, unclear, and even frightening. We don’t have room to discuss it here but it will probably come up in your community group. HERE are some thoughts that you might find helpful. Jeremy also provided some brief thoughts on that portion of the chapter at the end of his Studying the Gospels Together notes for chapter three.