If you could pick any time period to live in and any geographical area on earth to live in, what would you pick? If you could live at any time in history, in any age, what age would you choose?

Since we are Christians, since we are here to remember Jesus' death and resurrection, since we are in a worship assembly, it is likely that some of us would say, "If I could choose a time and place, I would choose Palestine in Jesus' lifetime. I wish I could live when Jesus lived and worked."

Why? "I would like to hear him preach. I would like to see his miracles. I would like to the watch the people. That must have been an incredible experience!"

I would not want that. I would be afraid to live at that time because I would be afraid of my reactions. If I lived in Palestine when Jesus lived, I do not know how I would have reacted to Jesus. Jesus was extremely different. When Jesus died, he was so misunderstood that nobody grasped what he was doing or what God was doing.

  1. This morning I want you to consider the things that happened to Jesus in Mark 3.
    1. Mark 3 begins with Jesus teaching in a Jewish synagogue on a Sabbath day.
      1. In attendance was a man with a withered hand.
        1. That meant the hand was contorted and drawn and of no use to him.
        2. It also meant that his hand would never be of any use to him.
        3. He would live and die with a useless, withered hand.
      2. Jesus asked the man to come stand before the congregation.
      3. He asked the congregation, "Which of these actions comply with the laws concerning the Sabbath: doing good or doing harm; saving life or killing?"
      4. Nobody answered his question; everyone was silent.
      5. Jesus looked at them in anger, grieved because their hearts were hard.
      6. Jesus told the man to stretch out his hand, and immediately the man's hand was restored to its usefulness.
      7. The Pharisees, the best read and most religious people present, left immediately and began to plan how to destroy Jesus.
    2. Jesus left the synagogue and went to the shore of the sea of Galilee.
      1. An enormous crowd of people from far and wide had gathered because they heard of Jesus' miracles.
      2. He sent the disciples ahead to secure a boat that Jesus could use to keep the huge crowd of people from crushing him.
        1. The people knew that he had the power to heal.
        2. Everyone was trying to touch him.
        3. Even the demon possessed were bowing before him as the demons acknowledged that he was the Son of God.
    3. Later Jesus went up on a mountain with many of his disciples.
      1. From all those disciples, he selected twelve.
      2. These twelve were to be with him, to preach for him, and to cast demons out of people.
    4. After that he returned to Capernaum and entered the house where he stayed.
      1. When people heard that he was in the house, such a large crowd gathered that he and the twelve could not even eat a meal.
      2. When his relatives heard about what Jesus was doing and the great commotion he caused, they came to take him in custody because "he has lost his senses," or "the man has gone crazy."
      3. Some scribes from Jerusalem [a scribe became a religious expert by copying scripture by hand] came and declared that Jesus was using Satan's power to cast out demons.
        1. Jesus said, "That is an amazing explanation! If that is what is happening, that is great news!"
        2. "If a kingdom has a civil war, the war destroys the kingdom."
        3. "If a family fights itself, the fight destroys the family."
        4. "If Satan is fighting against himself, he is destroying himself."
        5. "However, no one robs a strong man's house without first tying up the strong man." Satan was the strong man, and Jesus was robbing Satan's house by casting out demons.
        6. "The one sin that God will not forgive is the sin of giving Satan credit for the work of God's Spirit."
      4. Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrive.
        1. With all the crowd and commotion they cannot get to him.
        2. They want to talk to him privately--wonder if the relatives sent them?
        3. He was informed that his mother and brothers are outside and wanted to talk to him.
        4. Jesus responded by saying, "The person who does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

  2. "Wow!"
    1. I do not like to be verbally attacked and I do not like to watch as other people are verbally attacked.
      1. Watching people attack Jesus for doing good things would have distressed me.
      2. I did not need to be there.
    2. I do not like to hear people oppose God while they act as if they are serving God.
      1. Hearing the Pharisees plan to destroy Jesus by discrediting him would have distressed me.
      2. I did not need to be there.
    3. I do not like to be misunderstood, and I do not like to see other people misunderstood.
      1. Watching Jesus' family misunderstand him would have distressed me.
      2. I did not need to be there.
    4. I do not like to be in crowds that are pushing and shoving as every person tries to get what he or she wants.
      1. Being in a huge crowd where everyone wanted the opportunity to get close enough to Jesus to touch him would have distressed me.
      2. I did not need to be there.
    5. I do not like to have people assign evil significance to good motives and godly acts, and I do not like to hear people assign evil significance to the godly motives and deeds of others.
      1. To listen to the scribes say that Jesus functioned by using Satan's power would have distressed me.
      2. I did not need to be there.

  3. To me, one of the fascinating lessons in Mark 3 is seen in the way people reacted to Jesus.
    1. Mark 3 is a chapter filled with incredible contrasts.
      1. We see the Son of God doing nothing but good as he helps physically sick people and teaches spiritually sick people.
      2. And, we see all these different reactions by different groups and persons.
    2. Look at the reactions.
      1. Religiously, the Pharisees were the most influential people in Israel.
        1. They were restorationists who wanted Israel to return to the old paths (that was their terminology).
        2. They were the best read, most knowledgeable religious people in Israel.
        3. They knew the scriptures.
        4. Their reaction to Jesus:
          1. "You cannot heal a man on the Sabbath day!"
          2. "That is a violation of the law, for the law clearly says that you must not perform an act of work on the Sabbath!"
          3. "And how dare he challenge us and embarrass us in public! That man is dangerous! His influence and popularity must be destroyed!"
      2. The demons knew Jesus' true identity.
        1. They knew who he was, and they knew what he could do.
        2. They had no intention of serving Jesus instead of serving Satan.
        3. They just knew his power was supreme over Satan's power.
      3. The people who knew Jesus had the power to heal the sick wanted a miracle.
        1. They saw Jesus as an immediate solution to a physical problem.
        2. Life would be fine if they could just get their physical problem fixed.
      4. In naming the twelve, Mark listed Judas Iscariot and noted that he was the one who betrayed Jesus.
      5. His extended family thought he had gone crazy.
        1. How else could they explain what he said?
        2. How else could they explain what he was doing?
        3. How else could they explain his challenges to the religious establishment?
        4. The family needed to get this man under control!
      6. The scribes, the experts in the literal wording of scripture, said that Jesus' ability to cast out demons came from Satan.
        1. The demons knew him because he was the chief demon.
        2. The demons obeyed him because he was the leader of the demons.
        3. Jesus could be explained away because Jesus was the ultimate form of evil.
      7. Perhaps his immediate family wanted to talk to him because the extended family could not bring him under their control.
      8. Then there were the listeners who sincerely wanted to hear and understand what Jesus taught.
        1. Jesus said that they were his real family.
        2. They were his real family because they wanted to do God's will.
        3. He came to do God's will, and he shared a special bond with all people who wanted to understand and serve God's will.
    3. On the deepest level of my understanding, may I share with you the reason that I would not want to live in Palestine during the time of Jesus' ministry.
      1. I do not know which one of those people I would have been.
      2. Jesus was so radically different in how he lived, what he did, and what he taught, I do not know if:
        1. I would have been one of the Pharisees who, as a religious expert, said that Jesus was so different and radical that he was dangerous.
        2. I would have been one of the demon possessed.
        3. I would have been one of the sick that just wanted my physical problem fixed.
        4. I would have been a Judas that saw Jesus as an opportunity to satisfy my greed.
        5. I would have been one of those who thought that he was crazy and needed someone to bring him under control.
        6. I would have been a scribe who thought that Jesus was an evil man who got his power from Satan.
        7. I would have been a listener who wanted Jesus to teach me God's will.
    4. Who do you think you would have been?

[Prayer: God, create within our hearts and minds a hunger to do your will. Open our understandings to the teachings of Jesus so that we can understand your will.]

How do you look at Jesus right now? Is he too different to be taken seriously? Do you acknowledge his identity, but you let Satan control your life? Do you just want Jesus to fix physical things? Do you think he is crazy? Do you think he is evil? Or, do you listen to Jesus with an open mind and heart because you want him to teach you God's will?

People can tell how I look at Jesus. They can tell how you look at Jesus. The way we live and the way we use our lives tells others how we look at Jesus. What do they see when they look at our lives? What do you want them to see?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 19 March 2000

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