Mark 3:7-12 “The Crowds Flock To Jesus”

Posted on November 12, 2008. Filed under: The Gospel of Mark |

These are the notes to a Sunday night sermon, only notes. Consequently there are a lot of thoughts in incomplete sentences here.

Mark 3:7-12 “The Crowds Flock To Jesus”

10 October 1999 PM




I.A Time to Withdraw

II. The Relentless Crowds

III. The Ever-present Demons



Introduction: Today we have no problem in Baptist circles thinking of Jesus as the divine Son of God, but sometimes I think I have trouble realizing He was a real man who felt pressure, who got tired (not just physically, but mentally and emotionally), who needed a break. The tendency is to think of Jesus as a superman who was invincible, indefatigable, and tireless, who had a positive cheerful, charismatic, bubbly personality that never turned off, that he never needed a break. Jesus was 100% man and that means not only physically, but emotionally as well. We saw that he experienced anger this morning; this evening we will see that he faced a lot of pressure.

How do we measure the effectiveness of ministry to crowds? Crowds are difficult to gauge and evaluate. We know Jesus drew in the crowds, but what were the crowds there for? What about the demons who kept showing up? Why were they there?

I.A Time to Withdraw

Frequently in the Gospels we see Jesus and his disciples withdrawing from the crowds. In ch.1 after Jesus healed many in Capernaum we see him very early the next morning away from everyone else praying.(see 1:36f). After the controversial healing and forgiving of the paralyzed man in Capernaum Jesus went to the Lake (2:13). Now, after the dramatic healing of the man with the withered hand (right hand says Dr. Luke, 6:6) and the ensuing argument with the Pharisees and the resulting conspiracy to do away with Jesus, we find Jesus withdrawing to the Lake with his disciples.

This story occurs prior to the selection of the 12, so which disciples did he have with him? We have seen the call of Simon and Andrew, James and John, Levi-Matthew, and in John’s Gospel we see Phillip and Nathaniel (though not one of the 12). There may have been others; the list of disciples is bigger than the list of the twelve, so we do not know for sure who was with him at this time.

He went to the Lake; it says Jesus withdrew to the lake. That word withdrew can indicate “to flee” but that is probably too strong of a word, even though the Pharisees and Herodians are now plotting against him. The word would be much like our word for retreat. In one sense it means a hasty military withdrawal under pressure, but in our church usage it is simply getting away from the world for a while for a spiritual purpose. What we sense here is that Jesus needed to get away from the town for a while, and the pressure the Pharisees were placing on him may have been a part of it. Jesus understood where the Pharisees were headed and Jesus knew it was not His time yet, so this is a tactical retreat as well as a much needed break.

Spiritually, we need to take a break once in a while. We are created with a need for rest and recreation in balance with work and ministry. There is a time for fasting and a time for feasting. I think in our day we have an odd mixture of workaholism and leisure worship. We are weak creatures, prone to imbalance.

One of the things I have seen in the ministry is that ministers come in a wide variety of styles, some are workaholics, some are lazy, some are multi-talented do it alls. But what really surprised me is that many people have an attitude toward ministry that is expressed this way, “Other than your twenty minute talk on Sunday morning, what do you do?” I was really asked that about a month ago at work. A lot of people do not see that ministers work. Even inside the church many have the idea that ministers do not really work, are not worth their pay, certainly do not need a vacation.

My atheist friend at work asked me about the ministry recently and when I explained to her that each sermon was like a research paper in college she began to understand. Or you could compare it to a school teacher preparing for teaching his or her classes, or a businessman preparing a presentation. Add in the administration, visitation, crisis intervention, planning, and special events and you get pulled in various directions. When you are committed to people’s spiritual welfare, and you see them harden their hearts, jump into sin, or just ignore the Word you preach, the emotional and spiritual cost is high. One day of ministry I remember well, I went to work at my job, that afternoon I did a funeral, came home in time for VBS, and while at VBS I counseled a friend whose marriage was a total disaster and a divorce was looming on the horizon, and somewhere in there I was also studying for a sermon for Sunday. My atheist friend came away from our talk understanding a bit more about the ministry.

Jesus was pressured from many quarters, most of which we do not have recorded. I am sure there were funerals, weddings, countless appointments to counsel, offers to teach and preach. Jesus needed to withdraw for a respite.

II. The Relentless Crowds.

But the lake trip turned into a crowd scene as a large crowd from Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, across the Jordan, and even from the region of Tyre and Sidon gathered.

But what were their motives? Miracles, healings, the curious. The crowds always seem fickle in the gospels, mixed motives. Eventually Jesus offends the crowds and the crowd at the trial turned against Jesus at the instigation of the Pharisees and Sanhedrin. If Jesus had come in our day there would have been the souvenir shops, the video tape ministry, audio tapes, T-shirts, press people, etc. Think of how famous people get swamped for autographs in our day. Cannot even go out to shop or eat in public for the crowds.

Healings– all the sick, birth defects, injured flocked to Him. They were pushing forward to touch him– crowd was out of control. He needed the boat ready for the crush of the crowd. Imagine their desperation

Jesus was doubtlessly being used and taken advantage of. The commentators and scholars are pretty much agreed that the crowds were not there to be taught or changed; they were there for what they could gain in healings and excitement.

The temptation of popularity and success. Size and popularity are not necessarily a sign of truth seeking. Many speakers today draw the huge crowds, but they teach cotton candy or even heresy. The fastest growing religions in America today are cults and Islam. Much that passes as worship today is mere entertainment.

The pressure to feed the felt needs of the crowds, to tell them what they want to hear, to win them over with emotional plays.

III. The Demons.

Why did they show up?

Why did Jesus not want their praise? 1) He is holy and did not want the unholy testimonies 2) Son of God, Messianic secret 3) The Pharisees and the conspiracy wanted to link him with demons.


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