The Christ, The Conflict and The Cross (Mark 3:7-19)

The Christ, The Conflict and The Cross (Mark 3:7-19)

Mark 3:7-19

As I studied this text I couldn’t help but think of the calm that occurs both before and after a storm. The first three chapters of Mark quickly escalate the conflict between the Pharisees and Christ. Between the religious readers of Israel and their long awaited Messiah. Mark quickly demonstrates in the beginning of His gospel account that Christ is the true Messiah, and He has come with authority. He shows the gradual buildup of animosity shown to Christ among the Scribes, who very swiftly plotted with their enemies to kill Him.

Why do they want to kill Him? The authority of Christ and His message strips them of their power over the people.

Where are the people flocking to? Jesus Christ!

In order for them to gain control Christ must die. So we saw last week immediately after Christ defies their Sabbath system and displays that He is the true Lord of the Sabbath, they seek to destroy:

6And the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodian’s against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.”[1]

I would say that Mark has thoroughly introduced the conflict that has led to the plot, which will lead to the death of the innocent Son of God. This is what the gospel accounts are all about! Pointing us to the innocent Lamb that was slain for wicked men at the hands of wicked men.

All four reveal the Christ! All four expose the conflict! All four emphasize the cross!

If there was no conflict there would be no cross. If there be no cross with a crucified Christ upon it there is no hope for us, we remain condemned. A cross without Christ means there is only one way for God’s justice to be satisfied towards us: When we receive the penalty we deserve. The just penalty we deserve is to receive the full weight of His fury and experience eternal death. The good news is the ending of Mark’s account begins with the Christ crucified upon the cross.

Never forget, the only reason we are able to worship God for His mercy and His grace is because the just penalty we deserve was satisfied. It was satisfied on His Son, His only Son, Who humbled Himself by becoming a man. [2] Who, for the joy set before Him endured death on the cross despising its shame.[3] Upon the cross The Son took our sin upon Himself. Once all of our sin was upon His Son, The Father poured out His just wrath towards us upon Him. It is this act that justifies us before God!

How do we know Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice satisfied God’s anger towards us? The grave could not hold Him. He rose from the dead three days later!Since He has eternal life, those through faith in Him will also have eternal life!

Do you want to be forgiven of your sins and saved from His just wrath? Trust in what Christ has done in your place!

Believer, be reminded of His grace, mercy and love towards you in Christ!

Be faithful in proclaiming His finished work to all!

Now, we are able to gather here today and say amen to what was just said, because of an event that takes place with in this text today.

How do we know the Christ has come?

How do we know the conflict arose?

How do we know the crucifixion occurred?

It is all because of what Jesus begins here.

Let’s look at the text:

Mark 3:7-8

Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him.”

I mentioned at the start that this reminds me of the calm before and after a storm. Right now things seem to be calming down.

We just watched a serious confrontation between Christ and the Pharisees:

1.) The Pharisees immediately leave to plot death.

2.) Christ withdraws to the Sea of Galilee.

Notice, Jesus does not stop the work that brought about the conflict. We are really seeing here a condensed account of Mark 1:14-45. Jesus continues to demonstrate His authority.

It has been a few weeks since we have considered how this affects the audience Mark is writing to.

Who is Mark writing to? Roman believers under severe persecution.

What is his purpose in writing to them? To encourage them in the fact their Savior, Jesus Christ, came as the suffering servant.

What does the Savior demonstrate to all of us? He perseveres in spite of opposition.

Roman believers were being persecuted to such an extent that public identification with Christ ensured their own death at Nero’s hands. Mark reminds them of the certainty of Christ’s death at the hands of these wicked men, but displays Jesus does not falter in His purpose.

He is not afraid of what man will do to Him, and He commands us not to be afraid either:

28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”[4]

“…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”[5]

As Jesus continues on with His appointed work and displays His authority more people follow:

Mark 3:9-12

And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; 10 for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. 11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’12 And He earnestly warned them not to make Him known.”

Now, Jesus has a lot of disciples at this point. Luke goes as far as to describe it as “a great multitude.”[6] It should be understood that these are students of Christ, and not necessarily genuine believers. Many of these students are going to walk away from Him after some of His teaching.[7]

Luke’s account reads:

12And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.”[8]

What Luke records next gives us a pretty good understanding of what He was praying about:

13And when day came, He called His disciples to Him; and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles.”[9]

This gives just a little more information as to what we are seeing here in Mark:

Mark 3:13-15

“13 And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to cast out the demons.

Out of the great multitude of followers He picks twelve to be among His inner realm. He sends them to preach the very message He preaches, and to validate their message He permits them to have authority to cast out demons. Again, Jesus has a lot of disciples at this point, but only the twelve are being charged here.

What is Christ doing? Preparing a group of men!

Since this group of men consists primarily of fishermen and tax-officials, society deems it as a group of the unlearned and undeserving. Which is true by the way!

It is through these weak men that God will demonstrate His power and strength.

It is through these weak men Christ is going to carry the power of the gospel message. The very message that is going to render these men not only unlearned and undeserving, but foolish.

So, what then does Christ prepare and appoint these men to be? Witnesses of the Christ, the conflict and the cross in order for humanity know the gospel.

16 And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter),17 and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.”

I believe we need to be reminded that Christ not only equipped them to carry the message of the Christ, the Conflict and the Cross: But to experience it as well!

They were not appointed to a life of health, wealth and prosperity, but of ridicule and death!

Jesus Himself says to them:

2 They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.”[10]

It was Tertullian who said, “The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Consider the death of the Apostle’s because of their witness of Christ:

1.) Peter: Tradition holds he was crucified upside down after being forced to watch the crucifixion of his wife.

2.) Andrew: Threatened with crucifixion to no longer speak of Christ. Tradition holds he replied, “I would not have preached the honor and glory of the cross, if I had feared the death of the cross”. He was eventually beaten and tied to an “X” shape cross living in agony for two whole days while saying, “O cross, most welcome and long looked for!”

3.) John: He is said to have been boiled in oil, but survived only to be exiled on the Isle of Patmos. He was eventually released from Patmos and died a natural death in Ephesus.

4.) James: The book of Acts records he was beheaded at the hands of King Herod Agrippa I.[11]

5.) Philip: Church tradition holds he slowly bled to death after being stripped and hung by his feet only to be supported by stakes being driven through his ankles and thighs.

6.) Nathaniel/Bartholomew: It is suggested he was flayed alive.

7.) Matthew/Levi: Martyred in Ethiopia via burning or beheading.

8.) Thomas: Slain in India with a lance while praying.

9.) Judas/Jude/Thaddaeus/Lebbaeus: He was killed either by arrows or bludgeoned to death.

10.) James: Tradition holds he was crucified in Egypt.

11.) Simon: Either crucified or sawn in two.

As we carry their witness what should we expect? Persecution!

What should our attitude be towards it?

1.) Understand it is a guarantee!

“…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”[12]

2.) Rejoice in it!

Paul says to the Romans:

Romans 5:3-5

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

James writes:

James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Peter states:

1 Peter 2:13-25

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond slaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds [g]favor with God.

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

Peter later continues:

1 Peter 3:13-18

13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and [f]reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…”

Peter then charges:

1 Peter 4:1-2

“4 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4:12-16

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

We are well aware as to what is taking place in America right now.

3.) Do not be afraid!

Mankind may be able to strip you of your freedom as an American, but they can never strip you of your freedom in Christ! They can only persecute you for it.

« John Piper’s words are fitting when he says:

“I’m one hundred times more passionate about creating Christians and churches that will be faithful, biblical, countercultural, and spiritually minded in a socialist America, in a Muslim America, in a communist America, than I am in preventing a Muslim America or a communist America. That puts me in a very different ballpark than many public voices. My main calling is not to help America be anything, but to help the church be the church.”[13]

This is because God’s interest is ultimately in the preservation of His bride, the church, and not necessarily the nation in which it stands.

Are you afraid of what man can and will do to you in this nation for the cause of Christ? Don’t be!

God will preserve His bride; causing her to persevere through all forms of persecution!

What then shall we do? Do what Jesus and these eleven men did:

1.) Teach the Christ!

2.) Embrace the conflict!

3.) Welcome the cross!

28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”[14]

“…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”[15]

[1] Mark 3:6

[2] Philippians 2:

[3] Hebrews 12:1-3

[4] Matthew 10:28

[5] 1 John 4:4b

[6] Luke 6:17

[7] John 6:66

[8] Luke 6:12

[9] Luke 6:13

[10] John 16:2

[11] Acts 12:1-2

[12] 2 Timothy 3:12


[14] Matthew 10:28

[15] 1 John 4:4b

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