Setting

By now, Jesus was drawing a crowd wherever He went. People came from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, across the Jordan, and around Tyre and Sidon. To help Him in His ministry, Jesus appointed twelve apostles and gave them authority. As Jesus’ fame increased, so did the opposition. The scribes and even Jesus’ own family doubted that His authority was from heaven, and came up with their own explanations for Jesus’ actions.

Key Verse

(3:29)

Did You Know...?

1. Idumea (3:8): The Greek form of the Hebrew “Edom,” but here does not refer to earlier Edomite territory. [ref] After the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., the Edomites came from the east and settled in the area south of Hebron, which the Greeks and Romans later called Idumea. [ref]

2. Tyre and Sidon (3:8): Large Phoenician port cities on the Mediterranean coast. They were about 20 miles (32 km) apart, and often mentioned together. The two cities were often denounced by Old Testament prophets for their Baal worship. [ref]

3. Disciple (3:7): Literally, “learner” or “student.” [ref]

4. Apostle (3:14): Literally, “one who is sent.” It has the same root as the Greek word for the expression “that he might send” in verse 14. In addition to the original twelve, Matthias was later chosen to replace Judas Iscariot as an apostle (Acts 1:26), and Paul often refers to himself as an apostle in his letters. [ref]

5. Peter (3:16): Aramaic word for “rock.” Peter is also known as “Cephas,” which is the Greek word for “rock.” The name differentiates him from Simon the Zealot.

6. Simon the Canaanite/Zealot (3:18): The name is translated as either “Canaanite” (NKJV), which refers to Simon’s birthplace, or “Zealot” (NIV), which might refer to his zealous character, or with his association with the party of the Zealots. The Zealots opposed the payment of tributes by Israel to the pagan Roman emperor because they viewed it as treason to God. [ref] To achieve their goals, they did not hesitate to use violence and deception. [ref]

7. Judas Iscariot (3:19): Probably refers to where Judas came from (Kerioth, 12 miles [19 km] south of Hebron), which makes him the only apostle from Judea (the rest were from Galilee). [ref]

8. Beelzebub (3:22): Might be derived from the Hebrew baalzebub (‘lord of flies’), a mocking takeoff of baalzebul (“Prince Baal”), a pagan deity (2Kgs 1:2-3, 16). In the New Testament, the name is identified with Satan, the prince of the demons. [ref]

9. Satan (3:23): Literally, “Accuser.” One of the devil’s names (Rev 20:2).

Outline

  • Jesus’ Fame Increases
  • Crowd follows Him
  • Unclean spirits cry out
  • Jesus Appoints the Twelve Apostles
  • Purpose and authority of appointing the apostles
  • The names of the apostles
  • Opposition
  • Jesus’ family goes to take charge of Him
  • Scribes accuse Jesus of being possessed by Beelzebub
  • Parable of a house against itself
  • Jesus’ family arrives
  • Jesus emphasizes doing God’s will over family relationships

General Analysis

  • 1.

    What did each of the following do when they heard what Jesus was doing? Why? a. Crowd; b. Unclean spirits; c. Apostles; d. Jesus’ family; e. Scribes

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    a. Crowd—gathered around Jesus and followed Him. They came mostly for healing, because they heard “how many things He was doing,” not what He was teaching. They were so anxious for miracles that they pushed against each other and Jesus (10, 20). (But because the crowd was there all the time, Jesus had to take extra time and effort to accomplish anything else [9, 13, 20].)

    b. Unclean spirits—They cried out “You are the Son of God.” They knew that Jesus had God’s authority and power, and feared Him (Jas 2:19).

    c. Apostles—They came to Jesus when He called them to the mountainside. At this point they probably knew that Jesus was not an ordinary teacher (especially when He gave them the authority to drive out demons).

    d. Jesus’ family—They were worried for His physical and mental well being (They knew that He had not had the time to eat, and they also thought he was out of His mind). Perhaps they were embarrassed because they did not believe Jesus deserved so much attention. They might have thought they could put Jesus in His place, so they went to take charge of Him.

    e. Scribes—They came from Jerusalem to oppose Jesus because they claimed that Jesus was demon-possessed and that He was given power
    by Beelzebub.

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Segment Analysis

  • 3:7-12

    1a.

    What is the significance of mentioning that the crowd came from Idumea, Tyre, and Sidon?

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    In addition to the Jewish population, pagan worshippers also came. They probably had not witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles (Mt 11:20-21), and had only heard of what Jesus was doing. However, just hearing about Jesus gave them enough faith to come.

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  • 1b.

    Has there ever been an unexpected visitor to your church? How did he/she hear about the church?

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  • 1c.

    Share a particular testimony that inspired your faith.

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  • 2.

    Why did Jesus order the unclean spirits not to tell who He was?

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    cf. Lesson 3, Question 8.

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  • 3.

    What wasn’t Jesus able to do because the people crowded Him?

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    Because the crowd was pushing up against Him and each other, Jesus had to separate Himself in a small boat. This made it much more difficult for Jesus to heal, spend time alone, pray, or teach. He did not even have time to eat. He had to take extra effort to accomplish his work. By crowding up against Jesus, the crowd thought of only their own needs (miracles), which was only a small part of Jesus’ ministry.

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  • 3:13-19

    4a.

    What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle? (cf. Did You Know 3 and 4)

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    A disciple is on the receiving end, learning and preparing for the work ahead. An apostle is sent to work for God. Note that the Bible continues to refer to the twelve apostles as “disciples,” which implies that the learning process never ends. Jesus sent them out when they were still spiritually immature (cf. Mk 8:17-18), but He was patient with their shortcomings. Eventually these apostles became God’s mighty workers.

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  • 4b.

    What did Jesus appoint the apostles to do?

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    To be with Jesus; to preach; to heal; to drive out demons (14-15). Jesus needed help. Just healing the crowd took up all of Jesus’ time; He couldn’t accomplish other things He needed to do.

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  • 4c.

    Why was it important that the apostles be with Jesus (14)?

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    The apostles were selected to be witnesses “beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up” (Acts 1:21-22, NIV). God continued to build them up spiritually until they were prepared to become the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20). In Mark, we see how they learned from Jesus by observing His actions.

    The apostles’ primary task was to be with Jesus. Likewise, before we do God’s work, we must first cultivate ourselves spiritually through prayer and God’s word. We must understand and obey God’s will as well as
    experience His power (Lk 10:21-23). Otherwise, we will be unable to be witnesses for Christ and even risk being rejected by God (1Cor 9:27).

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  • 5a.

    Why did Jesus give Simon Peter a name? Why did He give James and John a name?

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    Peter used to be a fisherman, and Jesus promised that he would become a “fisher of men” (Mk 1:17). His new name signifies his new identity. Jesus gave him great authority and responsibility, for he, along with the other apostles, had been entrusted with the authority from Christ to establish the church (Mt 16:18-19). For the sake of the gospel, Peter would eventually lose his freedom and his life (Jn 21:18-19). Changing Simon’s name to “rock” also reminded him that he was built on Jesus Christ, who is the true foundation of the church (Eph 2:20; 1Pet 2:4-8).

    “Boanerges,” as Mark explains, means, “Sons of Thunder” (17). This might describe James and John’s zeal and energy, and possibly their violent nature (Lk 9:51-55). Jesus might have used this nickname to remind them to overcome their shortcoming. Like the other apostles, after they received the Holy Spirit, James and John were transformed into great workers of God. James was killed for his faith (Acts 12:1-2). John eventually became known for his gentle exhortation to love one another (1Jn 4:7-21).

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  • 5b.

    Which other biblical characters did God give names to? What was the meaning/purpose of each name?

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    Abraham—to confirm God’s promise that he would be “a father of many nations” (Gen 17:5)

    Sarah—she would become “a mother of many nations” (Gen 17:15).

    Isaac—means “he laughs”; a reminder of Abraham’s laughter when hearing the promise of God (Gen 17:19).

    Jacob (“Israel”)—to remind Him how he struggled with God and with men and had prevailed (Gen 32:28)

    Magor-Missabib—means “terror on every side”; a name that pronounces divine judgment on the wicked servant of God (Jer 20:1-6).

    Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi—to depict the broken relationship between God and His people (Hos 1:4-9).

    John the Baptist—a prophecy that he will do great work for the Lord, “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Lk 1:13-17). His naming also broke with family tradition (Lk 1:60-61) to show that God was greater than human tradition.

    Jesus—He is the Son of God, the king of kings (Lk 1:31-33).

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  • 5c.

    If God were to give you a name, what would it be? Why?

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  • 6a.

    List the former occupations of the twelve apostles.

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    Fishermen (Peter, Andrew [Mk 1:16], James, John [Mk 1:19], Thomas, Nathanael [Jn 21:2-3]), tax collector (Matthew [Mt 10:3]), political activist (Simon the Zealot [Lk 6:15]). Note that Matthew and Simon the Zealot were on opposite extremes in the political spectrum. Simon viewed paying taxes to the Roman government as treason to God, while Matthew’s very job was to collect taxes!

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  • 6b.

    Although the apostles differed in their culture, occupation, personalities, and opinions, Jesus appointed them to work together. Who in the church is very different from you? How do you work together with him or her?

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  • 6c.

    Judas Iscariot was probably the only apostle from Judea. Do you sometimes feel left out in the church? How do you deal with it?

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  • 3:20-35

    7a.

    What did Jesus’ family do wrong? How does their error relate to what Jesus said in 34-35?

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    Jesus’ family should have known from their experience that Jesus was not an ordinary man (Lk 2:19, 50-51; Jn 2:3-5). However, they were focused on the rumors they had heard, and what they considered to be peculiar behavior on Jesus’ part, rather than what God had revealed to them.

    In trying to help Jesus, Jesus’ mother and brothers were acting against God’s will. Our relationship with our family members must reflect our relationship with God, but God must come first. For example, Paul teaches us to “obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph 6:1). If we obey God, we become members of one family, connected through Jesus Christ (Eph 5:30). Our spiritual relationship is better than mere blood relations. Here, Jesus extends His love to all those who believe.

    However, Jesus does not downplay the importance of our earthly family. Jesus showed His love for His mother while on the cross. During the most desperate moments in His life, Jesus made sure that His mother would be taken care of (Jn 19:25-27).

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  • 7b.

    Jesus’ family let their concerns blind them to God’s will. What makes you blind to God’s will?

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  • 8.

    What have you done for the sake of your faith that might have seemed strange to other people?

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  • 9.

    What do you do when you disapprove of someone’s actions in church?

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  • 10a.

    Why did the scribes claim that Jesus was possessed by demons?

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    The scribes should have known from their knowledge that Jesus was not an ordinary man. They were familiar with the prophecies of the Messiah, and could not overlook everything Jesus had said and done. John the Baptist had confirmed that Jesus is from heaven (Mk 1:8). God Himself said Jesus is his Son (Mk 1:11). Jesus had proven His authority to forgive sins (Mk 2:10-11). People were amazed by Jesus’ teachings (Mk 1:22). In spite of all this, the scribes wanted to assert their authority in
    the spiritual matters. Since they continued in their unbelief, the only “reasonable” explanation for them was that Jesus received His authority from the demons.

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  • 10b.

    How were the scribes guilty of blasphemy? (cf. Lesson 4, Did You Know 2 for the definition of “blasphemy.”)

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    They claimed that Jesus had a demon, therefore attributing evil to God.

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  • 10c.

    How can you tell if something is from God or the devil? (cf. Jn 16:13; 2Tim 3:15; 1Jn 4:1-6).

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    The Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13); biblical knowledge (2Tim 3:15); acknowledging Jesus Christ (1Jn 4:2-3); speaks of the truth, not of the world (1Jn 4:5); how it is accepted by the people of God (1Jn 4:6).

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  • 11.

    In the parable, what does each of the following represent? a. Strong man (Rev 20:1-3); b. House (1Jn 5:19; Rev 2:13); c. Possessions (Rom 6:20-21); d. Intruder (Mt 24:43-44; Rev 3:3);

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    a. Strong man—Satan. God binds him in order to save our soul (Rev 20:2- 3).

    b. House—kingdom of Satan; the world; opposition, persecution

    c. Possessions—people under Satan’s control

    d. Intruder—Jesus. Only He has power over Satan and his dominion.

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  • 12.

    What is the meaning of the parable?

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    Satan does not plunder himself. If he did, his kingdom would fall. The demons are all working together against God, so it is illogical to conclude that you can drive out a demon by the power of Satan.

    There are many testimonies in the True Jesus Church about people who were demon-possessed. When they try to get help from the idols or exorcists, their conditions became worse. We can only drive out unclean spirits by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Likewise, if the church is divided against itself, it cannot stand. In a sense, we would be worse than the demons. That is why the devil tries to split the church apart (1Cor 1:10-13, 3:3-5).

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