The Gospel of Mark – Part 12
Under Pressure – Mark 3:7-19
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Sept. 22nd, 2019
- At this point in the story, Mark has given us 5 “conflict passages” where Jesus was questioned and confronted by the religious leaders. This section concluded with the result of the religious leaders conspiring to kill Jesus.
- In the meantime, great crowds were gathering from all over and were drawn to Jesus in anticipation and amazement because of His profound teaching, position over demons and power to heal. Everyone was formulating their opinion of Jesus as Mark presses us, the readers, to answer the question, “Who do you say that I am?” This is asked in the key pivot point of this book in chapter 8.
- Jesus was under a huge weight of pressure, with demands coming at Him from all directions from those who were desperate, demonized, diseased, despairing, dependent, from those who were his disciples and also from His detractors. These things were on Him because who He was and because He cared.
- Most of you are under pressure and carrying a lot because you care and the demands and duties, the stresses and strains are coming at you from all sides. Jesus has been there too, and He understands by experience what that is like. Today I want to give you some help and direction from what Jesus did as we as follow in His footsteps. In doing these things you will be greatly helped.
Mark 3:7-12 ESV
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
- Jesus went down to the sea with those who were following Him. And a “great crowd” followed. They came from hundreds of miles from across the country and beyond (see map) and they were not going to be denied. So many people were coming after Him and pressing around to touch Him. Along with that, whenever someone with “unclean spirits” saw Him, they fell down before Him and cried out His true identity, “You are the Son of God.” Jesus gave the orders to them to not make this known. (It was not the time, nor the place, nor the method for this to be revealed.) With all of this going on, there was a real possibility He would be crushed.
- Jesus instructed His disciples to have a boat ready to provide an escape route and to give Him some distance from all the demands. Let’s look to what He did next.
He spent time alone
Mark 3:13a ESV
And he went up on the mountain
- With all the demands and needs pressing in around Him, instead of meeting them as fast as He could or getting up early and working late to do more, He did the opposite. “And He went up on the mountain.” He went away by himself, to get clarity, to get perspective, to think, to consider, to rest, to pray.
- We so often think the solution to our pressure is to do more, work harder and go faster. The best thing we can do at times like this is to get away. And I did not say “run away” because that will not solve the problem, but “get away” – get some distance so you can think and pray things through. The truth is, if you don’t get apart you will come apart.You see people doing this time and time again in scripture, from Daniel to David to Elijah, to the apostles and even Jesus Himself. So often the best way forward is to step back.
- Jesus got away and went to the mountain, but He also spent His time there in prayer. Which brings us to our next point.
He spent time in prayer
- Luke provides more details for us from this same event. Here is what he records:
Luke 6:12-13 ESV
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:
- Jesus went away to by himself, and He did so to pray. Even Jesus, who was part of the God-head, needed to connect with His Father. With all the pressure and expectations, He needed to connect. We know the next action after His prayer time, which was choosing the twelve apostles. So I imagine that time of prayer was for discernment for next steps and clarity in whom to choose. I imagine also is was for perspective, encouragement, confirmation, clarity and perhaps comfort as well.
- I know when I pray, I need all of these things and more, especially when there is a ton of pressure and so much to do. I need clarity, I need peace, I need perspective, I need strength, I need wisdom, I need comfort, I need conviction, and I need so much, and so do you. Prayer is the vehicle that we connect to God. It is your greatest asset because it connects you to greatest one who cares greatly for you.
- Jesus prayed all night, in recognition that He needed God more than He needed sleep. Do we need to pray all night as well? Perhaps you need to pray as long as it takes to gain perspective, clarity, direction and peace. This will give you hope, and it will be the greatest help you can receive. Pray until you are convinced of this and then do the next thing in how you have been directed.
- Next, in all the pressure He was facing and to accomplish the mission, aim and priorities of His life, He selected people to himself so He could train them and send them out.
He selected people to train
Mark 3:13 – 19 ESV
And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
- Instead of doing all the work Himself, Jesus selected people to train and help with the work. Having good people around you, training them and then handing things off to them makes all the sense in the world. You can’t do it all yourself. You were not designed to do it all yourself. God will give you people to help in what He has called you to do. And those people are also designed and called to help as well. Their calling is intermixed with yours and each of you is called to help each other. Often, we just try to do everything ourselves and get worn out and burnt out in the process. No one wins with this approach.
- What qualities was Jesus looking for? And what qualities should we look for as well? I believe that on top of this list were: humility, teachability and capability. It is also interesting to note that:
“It was a strange group of men our Lord chose to be his disciples. Four of them were fishermen, one a hated tax collector, another a member of a radical and violent political party. Of six of them we know practically nothing. All were laymen. There was not a preacher or an expert in the Scriptures in the lot. Yet it was with these men that Jesus established his church and disseminated his good news to the end of the earth.” (Expositors Bible Commentary Vol. 8 p. 643)
- Jesus did not just recruit them and send them out. Notice that He “called to him those whom he desired . . . so that they might be with him and he might send them out.” There was a training that happened because they were with Him. Being with Jesus trains and equips us for what He sends us out to do. We learn both from His instruction, His example and from His presence.
- And in that time with being with Him, they were changed and prepared. In a commentary I was reading from the “Preaching the Word” series on Mark, the author says this:
“We all know the story: wavering, inconsistent Simon became Peter, the rock. John and James became the “Sons of Thunder” – dynamic apostles! Anonymous, average Andrew became the patron saint of three nations. Thomas the skeptic became a tenacious man of faith. Simon, the radical, subversive zealot, became a man truly zealous for God. Loathsome Levi became on of the writers of the Gospel of Matthew.”
- The same happened to others outside the Twelve as well.
- God calls us, trains us, and sends us out. When you are “under pressure” look for the people that God would have you come, be trained and help as well.
He sent them to work
- And when it is time, send people out to work. Equip them and give them authority to do so. Entrust the task to them and give them the right to make decisions. Empower them, and the work will expand and the pressures you face will lesson. Many times, we are overwhelmed and overwork because we fail to train and send others to partner with us in the work. This is both a gift to you and a gift to them. So, do it!
- Looking to the ministry and method of Jesus, when facing all kinds of demands from multiple fronts, get apart before you come apart. Gain perspective from prayer. Call, train and equip others and send them to help with the work.
- In all things look to Jesus, the Author and perfecter of our faith, call to Him, learn from Him, know Him. He is the source of all good things; you can trust Him and learn from Him. Give your life over to Him because He is worthy of your life and He has all wisdom, power and authority and He cares for you.