Today, Father, surround me, search me and immerse me in Your will. I wait quietly before You now.
Read Mark 3:1-6
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“We are at the point (in Mark) where we are faced with a big question: who is this Jesus? He is a man, but so much more. He has many friends and followers, but he has enemies (6). What will the end of him be?” (Ralph P. Martin, 1925–2013).
Today relationships between two of the groups seeking God’s “new teaching” (Mark 1:27) break down. Jesus is back in the synagogue. The Pharisees are there. It is not clear if some Herodians are there or not, though I suspect that verse 6 implies that the Pharisees sought them afterwards. The fracture in relationships here has grave consequences. The Pharisees seek the Herodians—an odd alliance as the Pharisees want the Torah restored and the Herodians are happy for Rome to dominate and curb the influence of the Torah. Together they plot to kill Jesus.
This plot seems grossly out of proportion with the nature of the argument—whether rules added to the Law should be followed as if they are Torah. There is no command in the Torah that prohibits healing on the Sabbath. However, there were contemporary debates about what could and could not be done on the Sabbath, because people needed guidelines where the Torah was not clear. Jesus cuts straight through all this—he states the principle to which he is working and acts accordingly. In doing so, he drives a wedge down the fractured coalition of movements for the restoration of Israel. His movement and the Pharisees part company.
It is not just the Pharisees who get angry. When Jesus challenges Christians (as he does in stories like this one and yesterday’s) not to add to his teachings, we can become angry too. Jesus is deeply grieved when we set up rules that he has not asked people to follow. We might see ourselves as faithful and as helping people to be holy; Jesus sees us like the Pharisees as stubbornly refusing to obey God. Jesus has laid down the gauntlet—if his commandments permit it and it gives life, who are we to prevent it from happening?
Do you cause Jesus grief by expecting to do more than he asks and/or by expecting too much from others? If so, ask his grace to change.
Heavenly Father, I need to focus on Your rule for life which brings joy, liberty and freedom. Forgive me for focusing on man-made rules which bind and bring condemnation.