May 25, 2005

Mark 3:1-6 Sermon Notes

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

Mark 3:1-6
(February 6, 2005, Sermon Notes)

Our debates about the Sabbath are rarely deadly, but the one in Mark 3 is because the real issue here is not the interpretation of the Fourth Commandment but the identity of Jesus. The Pharisees want to expose Jesus, but instead Jesus ends up exposing them.


Jesus is back in the synagogue at Capernaum, but this time the Pharisees are collecting evidence for an official charge against Him. Exhibit A will be Jesus’ response to a man with a withered hand. This man isn’t in danger; his healing can wait till another day.

But Jesus doesn’t see it that way. He calls the man (literally) to “Arise into the midst.” That resurrection language reminds us that Jesus came to bring life. And Jesus wants everyone to see it.

Before He heals, Jesus asks the Pharisees a question “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” That may seem like a false dilemma. There are other options. And surely no one would say that it lawful to kill someone or to do evil on the Sabbath.

But Jesus sees only two options: Either you behave like God and use the Sabbath to give people life and rest and refreshment, or you act like Satan and kill. Either you give people access to God or you rob them of it.

Israel was to be a priestly nation, but withered hands kept you from access to God (Lev. 21:16-24). The Pharisees called Israel to a priestly level of holiness, but Jesus actually restores access to God and restores this man so that he can serve God as Israel was intended to do.


The Pharisees’ minds are made up. They don’t answer Jesus, and their silence enrages and grieves Him. This man is in bondage but they want him to stay there because their hearts are hard. They are new Pharaohs, keeping Israel in slavery. Just as God gave Israel the sign of Moses’ leprous hand (Ex. 4), God gives Israel another sign involving a hand. But, like Pharaoh, the Pharisees harden their hearts.

Jesus tells the man to stretch out his hand. That phrase ought to remind us of things we hear in the rest of Scripture. Sin barred Adam from stretching out his hand to the Tree of Life (Gen. 3), but God promsied restoration. Now this man stretches out his hand in faith and receives life.

This passage also echoes 1 Kings 13: Jeroboam’s hand was withered because of his false worship, but when he repented it was restored. The withered hand suggests that the synagogue worship is in danger of becoming like Jeroboam’s, but Jesus brings healing and restoration.

The Pharisees plot with the Herodians. King Herod was an Edomite. The Pharisees are new Sauls, plotting against the new David, and Herod is another Doeg the Edomite (1 Sam. 22), ready to kill him. Is it lawful on the Sabbath to save life or to kill? They choose to kill,but Jesus dies to give life.

Posted by John Barach @ 5:05 pm | Discuss (0)

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