Thursday, January 22, 2009

Daily - 1/22/09

Mark 3:7-12 (today’s gospel)

7 Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people (followed) from Galilee and from Judea.

8 Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.

9 He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.

10 He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.

11 And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God."

12 He warned them sternly not to make him known.


This picks up from yesterday. Christ just finished the first confrontation with the Pharisees that we see in Mark, concluding with the healing of the crippled man. He withdraws from the Pharisees and continues his mission of healing.

See verse 8 – people came from all over. I’m not diligent enough in my study to pull out a map and determine where all these cities are, but others do. Jerusalem is more than a hundred miles from Galilee, Idumea is on the southern border between Palestine and Arabia, and Tyre and Sidon are on the Mediterranean coast. Considering the times, and how long it must have taken to travel these distances, this is amazing. If you want a visual, just think about the pictures from Washington DC this week, and then imagine people having to get there by foot or by donkey.

In the gospels, we see several accounts of confrontation with the Pharisees, followed by Christ leaving the scene. Clearly Jesus didn’t need to run away, but he didn’t go to the final confrontation because he had more work to do. We also see Jesus on several occasions to warn those who confess he is the Christ to not make him known. In this reading, he rebukes the unclean spirits that recognize him.

William Barclay has a great explanation of why Jesus didn’t begin by proclaiming himself as the Christ. Jesus has to teach the people the true nature of his mission. He was not the Messiah that people expected, which among other things was Moses-style deliverance from the Romans. He needs to teach the people about his kingdom, how it is not of this world, and how they could get there.