Skip to content
Mar 13 / Reflexion Community

Mediations in Mark Chapter 3 – 03/12/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning and welcome to our RefleXion Community!  The Lord is with you.

As Chuck began our series in the book of Mark, I noticed—and maybe you did too– that the word “wilderness” was mentioned four times in the first 13 verses.  Before Jesus invited anyone to “Follow Me,” there was the wilderness.  John the Baptizer was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that there would be a voice calling from the wilderness, and then he was baptizing in the wilderness.  Jesus was driven into the wilderness (by the Holy Spirit, no less) and was in the wilderness for 40 days.  Since we want to “follow Jesus,” just as He was led by the Spirit, so must we be led.  And, if we’re led into the wilderness…well, what is the wilderness?  The Greek word eremos is translated:

As a type of place: solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited, and an uncultivated region, though fit for pasture.  As the state of a person: deserted by others, deprived of their aid and protection, especially of friends, acquaintances, kindred.

I imagine that we all have experienced some aspect of the desert (desert-edness) or soul-drought.  Yet the desert is never seen in scripture as an empty region.  It is a space provided for shaking off all forms of disordered desires and attachments and carrying forward only what is necessary.  It’s a place of renewal, of returning to essence.

Jesus’ temptations, it seems to me, were focused on his identity: “If you are the Son of God…” came the temptation.  I wonder if the primary temptation we all face is to doubt our identify:  that we are children of God, with a divine identity and a unique calling.

There are some great quotes by one of the 4th century Desert Mothers (those who chose to go to the Desert, by the way).  Her name was Amma Syncletica of Alexandria. She wrote, “If you find yourself in a monastery do not go to another place, for that will harm you a great deal.  Just as the bird who abandons the eggs  she was sitting on prevents them from hatching, so is the [one] who grows cold and their faith dies, when they go from place to place.”  Amma Syncletica is counseling us not to run from ourselves and is encouraging us to stay faithfully with whatever new life is being hatched in us. 

At least, these have been God’s word to me of late:  “Don’t try to control; don’t try to escape.”  We are always in the nest of God (our Provider, Comforter, Nourisher).  Yet in the wilderness?  In the wild?  Yes, we’re still in His nest, though perhaps without the feather bedding.  Maybe then we can call our wilderness the “Wilder-Nest.”  We’re still in His Nest.

Shall we pray:

Thank You, Lord, for Your covenant of love.  We are grateful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We surrender to Your love however it may look.  Keep us safe from wild beasts and pity parties.  Encourage us by empowering grace.  Feed us with your good word this morning, for our sake and for the sake of the Kingdom.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch forth you hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 3:1-6

Intro: In our current excursion through the Gospel of Mark, I am more of a tour guide than a teacher

These talks come from my personal meditations,
– and I’m inviting you to let me show you what I have seen
• to appreciate the ground we’ll cover today, I’m going to share another personal observation,
◦ because it is relevant to this chapter
– I see two Christian paths that run parallel to each other
• one path is relational – I see it as the true path
◦ on this path, trust in God is real and refreshed daily
◦ the primary characteristic of this path is love for God and love for others
• the other path is religious – it looks right, but it’s missing something
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people (2 Tim. 31-5)
◦ on this path, trust is placed in a person’s beliefs and specific habits
◦ being “right” doctrinally is confused with being “righteous”

It seems to me, in Jesus’ day, Israel’s religion looked right
– but the devotion of believers like the Pharisees,
• was given to the forms of religion, not to the heart or spirit of the Law
◦ God sent poets and prophets to bring Israel to himself
◦ but having discovered that the forms could be controlled by people, they rejected the prophets
• Israel chose to live at a distance from God, but close to the Law and their interpretations of it
◦ in that way they could justify being greedy and unmerciful,
◦ yet, at the same time, believe they were godlier than other less religious people
– remember last week? Jesus said,
no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins (Mk. 2:22)
• his life and ministry were incompatible with the established religion
• we witness that incompatibility in this chapter

My meditation in the synagogue

The synagogue was the local headquarters of the religious institution
– I imagined myself there when Jesus entered
A man was there, who did not want to draw attention to himself, yet he could not go unnoticed. His disability made him a perfect candidate for the compassion and power of Jesus.
The Lord’s presence did not go unnoticed either. He was being watched, scrutinized. He had critics who wanted to confirm their suspicions. Would he honor the Sabbath according to their tradition? Or would he do what he had been doing everywhere else, all the time?
The Pharisees were not interested in learning whether he was sent by God. They weren’t even interested in his miracles, his compassion, or changed lives. They believed in their beliefs. Did he? Did Jesus believe in and share those beliefs? That is what they were waiting to discover.
Jesus tells the disabled man, who doesn’t want attention, to come forward. I feel nervous for him. I see him holding his arms behind his back, looking down at the ground in front of his feet. Then Jesus asks the others sitting in the Synagogue whether the Sabbath law permitted a person to do good or harm, to save life or kill. I imagine the Lord making make eye-contact with each person sitting there.
No one answered. I notice Jesus’ emotional response: anger and grief.
Why did they clam up? Why were they unwilling to answer such an easy question? I’m guessing that they did not want to yield anything to Jesus. No wonder this hardness of heart angered and grieved him. For centuries God faced the same stubbornness with his people, this same unwillingness to cooperate with him. Jesus’ sadness came not only from they way they hardened their hearts to him, but to the broken man as well.
A child complains to a parent about other kids, “They won’t play with me!” No one in the synagogue was willing to play along with Jesus. No one was interested in doing good or saving a life on the Sabbath. Later, Jesus would say,
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
‘We played the flute for you,

and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”
(Mt. 11:16-19)
Today, if Jesus asks me, “Can you come out and play?” I’m going with him.

People on the parallel path of Christianity tend to have hard hearts
– some have shorter or longer lists of who is going to hell
• but long or short, it doesn’t bother them to pronounce sentence
◦ try to get them to re-examine their beliefs and they resist
• our theology and doctrine about God is not God
◦ those are rational concepts, and God is not a concept
◦ it is not only humility, but also compassion, to allow God to correct our beliefs

My meditation by the “sea”
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed him (Mk. 3:7)

“Jesus withdrew” – he did not continue to engage his critics
– there was no way he could win them over
• however, he could do good for the crowds who followed him
– sometimes the best course of action is to withdraw
• the morning that I meditated on this passage, my prayer was:
“Lord Jesus, please share Your wisdom with me, so that I may choose the best course of action. In every instance of conflict, slander, opposition, or trouble, give me clear thoughts and guide my actions. Remind me that it is not cowardice to withdraw. That to walk away is to find the path of peace. And may it not frustrate me that I cannot convince everyone to rethink their relationship with You and others. I thank You for the revelation that trouble need not stop me, slow me down, or cause me to despair. There is always the choice to walk with You through everything, and in making that choice I can go on my way rejoicing.”

My meditation on the mountain

Jesus did not own a home or rent an apartment – he stayed in the homes of others
– so there was no room he could retreat into for privacy
• no door where he could hang a “Do not disturb” sign
• but he had mountain and desert spaces
◦ in this instance he found solitude on a mountain
◦ and the twelve that went with him were “by invitation only”
– the invitation was to a new role, to become something new
• in fact, he gave three of them new names
• and because this was special, he invited them into his private office

The first phase of their new calling was to be with him
– that would qualify them for the work they were to do
• I wonder what criteria Jesus used in choosing these particular men
◦ was it because they had left everything to follow him, and he wanted that type of devotion?
◦ or perhaps because they were not special, gifted, or trained
• what we’re told is that Jesus called those he desired
◦ I want Jesus to desire me – desire me to be with him
◦ I want him to want me

Several times I have meditated on the various reactions to Jesus
Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard of it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind”(Mk. 3:20-21)
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons” Mk. 3:22)

Jesus’ family and the scribes had different opinions about him
– both concluded something extraordinary was going on,
• but both assumed he was messed up, and both were wrong
– demon possession depicted in today’s movies and books,
• is nothing but ghost stories — garish, terrifying, and overdone
◦ I wonder whether it was as spooky in Jesus’ day as we think of it today
• perhaps people reacted to the possessed as we tend to psychotic behavior when we see it in public
◦ we feel pity and concern, but keep our distance

Most everyone I know has been shocked by Jesus’ statement
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit” (Mk. 3: 28-30)
– the scribes were sincere and devoutly religious people
• and they were on a mission
◦ but they slandered Jesus and what he did for the crowds of men, women, and children
• at present, millions of people speak blasphemies every day
◦ some say hateful things about Christians and God intentionally
all of that is forgivable
– I hear words spoken that jar my soul – profanity using “God” or the name of Jesus Christ
• but it doesn’t bother God the way it bothers me
• however, people who speak in the name of God or represent God to the world offend him,
◦ when they withhold mercy and express hate in his name

Conclusion: One parting look at this chapter
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside the sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother (Mk. 3:31-35)

The focus of this meditation is Jesus’ two families
– Jesus detached himself from the one in order to attach himself to the other
The Pharisees wanted to destroy Jesus,
The crowds wanted something from Jesus,
His mom and brothers wanted to get him home to fix him,
And the scribes wanted to discredit him

Did anyone want Jesus for Jesus?
I think those sitting around him, listening to him teach the will of God wanted him
We can be those members of his redefined family
We can be his disciples, whom he desires to be with him
We can live with open hearts, and open minds, and open hands

Leave a comment