A ReMARKable Life Series
  • The gospel of Mark is a short, action-packed book that focuses on how Jesus Christ is the Messiah for every man, woman, and child. Christ – fully man, fully God. But Jesus wasn't the rescuer God's people had imagined, and many didn't recognize Jesus as their answer to prayer. We, too, can miss out on what God wants for us if we're only looking for answers that fit our expectations. Join us for this series as we explore Jesus' heart for people and we can change the world by serving one person at a time and helping them connect with God.
3. Following the Call of Christ (Mark 3:13-6:6a)
  • Jesus chooses the 12 Disciples, calls the crowd to follow Him, teaches the crowd about the Kingdom of God through parables. He continues to perform more miracles, all of which attest to His power and authority over the physical, the material and the spiritual. However, He is rebuffed in His home town where people took offense at Him and showed an amazing lack of faith.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • Jesus calls all to follow Him, and those who follow become members of His family. (Mark 3:13, 33-35)
  • There will be varying responses to Jesus' call, and He will answer those who respond in faith. (Mark 4:13-20; 5:23 & 24, 28-34)
  • Once a follower of Jesus Christ, our responsibility is to share the gospel. (Mark 5:19)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • How does Jesus call people today?
  • How can people respond to Jesus' call today?
  • If you are a follower of Jesus, how can you share the good news of Him?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • Why did Jesus call out 12 special disciples? What were their responsibilities?

  • How did the religious authorities view Jesus and why? What did Jesus mean in His reply to them when they accused Him of being possessed by satan?

  • What was Jesus' family's view of Jesus? Why did they come to Capernaum, and what objective were they trying to achieve?

  • Why did Jesus speak in parables? What is a parable?

  • What did Jesus teach in the four parables in Mark 4?

  • What did the incident of Jesus in the boat and the storm show about Jesus?

  • Why did Jesus permit the demons to leave the man from the caves and go into the pigs?

  • Compare and contrast the re4sponses to Jesus of the 12, His family, the religious authorities, Jairus, the woman with the bleeding, the demon-possessed man, the people of Nazareth?

  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?

  • Do you consider that Jesus has called you in a special way and to a particular responsibility? What would that calling and responsibility be?

  • Do you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus? What does that mean?

  • What are the reasons that people in this text reject Jesus? Why do those who are full of “religion” tend to reject Jesus?

  • What does it show to you that Jesus calmed the storm and raised Jairus's daughter from death??

  • How do you understand the parables in Mark 4?

  • What are the common themes running through the scenes in this text?

  • Why was Jesus amazed at the lack of faith of the people of Nazareth? Why did they lack faith? What is the level of your faith? Is it enough to follow Jesus based on what you learn from this text?

Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)

  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?

Jesus has been ministering in and around the region of Galilee, and is being followed by a great crowd (Mark 3:7). He was teaching about the Kingdom of God, healing many, and casting out demons. As stated in the prior Notes, in Jesus people saw authenticity, a man with a purpose (Mark 1:14, 38; 2:10, 20) and authority (Mark 1:22, 27), a man of prayer (Mark 1:35) with a willing and compassionate heart for others (Mark 1:40 & 41) a man with concern for the spiritual state of people (Mark 2:17), and a man who was always reaching out. But did they yet see Him as the Messiah? They were amazed by the miracles He was doing, but what was their response going to be? Would they follow Him? The response of the religious hierarchy was opposition and hardness of heart (Mark 3:5 & 6). They wanted to kill Him.

In the text for this installment of the Series, Jesus continues to minister in and around Galilee, though He does take a “side trip” to the region southeast of the Sea of Galilee, the region of the Gerasenes. The story of these verses follows a similar cycle to the text covered in the last Notes, namely active ministry which includes teaching and healing, opposition, and responses of faith and lack of faith to His call. Jesus is being followed by many, and for many reasons (Mark 3:7-10); but in the midst of His ministry He went into the hills and called out 12 specific individuals and appointed them as His apostles (literally “ones sent forth”). To these 12 He gave authority to cast out demons and sent them out to preach the gospel of the Kingdom. (Mark 3:13-19) What a “rag-tag” band of men it was: 4 fishermen, 1 hated tax collector, 1 member of a radical group that advocated the overthrow of the Roman government, and 6 other otherwise unknown men. None were priests or prophets or members of the religions hierarchy; they were ordinary Jewish men who had chosen to follow Jesus because they sensed something about Him, and thought that maybe He was the Messiah after all. But all of them heard and responded to Jesus' call to follow Him, and did so not out of self-interest as in wanting healing; no, they wanted to attach themselves as disciples to the One who was extraordinary and who just might be the hope of Israel.

While in Capernaum, Jesus went to a house with His 12 disciples, but the crowds were so big and the ministry demands of both teaching and healing so great, that he couldn't even eat (Mark 3:21). Jesus' family from Nazareth got wind of His situation and thought they could provide what in their eyes was help, so they set out to “seize” him and presumably take him back to Nazareth with them. It seems they had good motives – to care for His well being – but they did not understand Him and His ministry at all, as they thought He was “out of his mind.” (Mark 3:20 & 21) After a time, they arrived in Capernaum and didn't even approach Him personally, but rather sent someone to fetch Him (Mark 3:31 & 32). The messenger entered and told Jesus His mother, brothers and sisters were looking for Him, whereupon Jesus looked at those disciples circled around at His feet and denominated them as His mother and brothers, in effect indicating that their relationship with Him as followers was closer than even a familial relationship. Those who were listening to Him had followed Him for who He was; His family were not followers, but only wanted to remove Him from what He was doing because of their own mixed interests.

Meanwhile, as Jesus' family was on its way to Capernaum, opposition to Jesus arose again in the house, and it came from the religious authorities who had traveled from Jerusalem presumably to check Him out and determine if He what was teaching was acceptable to the religious authorities (Mark 3:22). It is clear from the text that their motives in listening to Jesus was really to oppose Him, rather to see if He truly was the Messiah. In fact, their response to Jesus was total rejection; quite astonishingly they said that He was possessed by Satan, using the epithet “Beelzebub,” and that it was Satan who was driving out demons. In short, they were charging that Satan and Jesus were in collusion! Jesus' response was to use parables (short stories to make a point) to show how ludicrous the charge was. The parables were to the point: if Jesus were possessed by Satan, Satan would be opposing himself and that is absurd; and moreover, Jesus has instead actually defeated Satan's power by coming into his territory and tying up this alleged strong man. By so saying, Jesus was pointing to Himself as Messiah. Then Jesus went on to warn against blaspheming the Holy Spirit which was really what these religious authorities were doing; in their hardness of heart, in effect they were saying that the Holy Spirit was Satan. Jesus said that such persistent hardness of heart was sin and was unforgivable (Mark 3:23-30). It is interesting to compare this opposition of the religious authorities with that of Jesus' family; Jesus' earthly family essentially opposed Him out of lack of faith and understanding; but the religious authorities opposed Him out of an outright rejection of who He claimed to be.

After the foregoing instances, Jesus continued teaching. The crowds were so large that he sat in a boat just off the water's edge to do His teaching as the people gathered along the shoreline (Mark 4:1). He taught using parables. But why parables? Jesus used the parables as a way to test people's response to Him. The parables were “proclaimed” to all, but understood, even if not fully, only by those who had faith even if only a small faith (by the way, this is a theme that seems to permeate Mark's gospel). Those hardened in their unbelief did not understand the parables at all (Mark 4:11 & 12). To His 12 apostles, Jesus explained the meaning of the parables in more detail as part of their discipleship process (Mark 4:10 et seq.). Mark recounts four parables in this text – of the sower, of a lamp on a stand, of the growing seed and of the mustard seed (Mark 4:1-34) What is Jesus teaching by these parables? He is teaching that He Himself is the sower who sows the word of the gospel all around, and that the word falls on ears that respond in differing ways, from outright rejection to full acceptance (Mark 4:1-20). He is teaching that His lamp, that is, His light as the Messiah and the means of the gospel, is to be shined out while He is here (Mark 4:21-25). He is teaching that the Kingdom of God takes root, grows and produces “fruit” as the gospel message is accepted, and that this growth will indeed take place (Mark 4:26-29). He is teaching that the kingdom of God starts small but will grow as the gospel permeates human hearts (Mark 4:30 & 32). The message in these parables is consistent, and it is that the gospel will prevail, and that the kingdom of God will grow and it is the work of God that brings the growth, not human effort. If anyone has ears, Jesus says, they are to listen up (Mark 4:23), meaning that what He is teaching is important and is to be heeded, for failure to listen and heed will be tragedy. In these parables Jesus opened up the secret of the kingdom of God, namely that life in the kingdom is through the gospel (that is, through Him!), and the gospel will succeed in the lives of men and women who have faith, and will ultimately permeate the world.

At the end of the day of teaching in Capernaum, Jesus moved on to the other side of the Sea of Galilee by boat (Mark 4:35 & 36). That particular body of water is subject to frequent, furious storms because of where the Sea is situated, below mountains where the wind currents swirl and come up suddenly. Such a storm struck the Sea as Jesus and the 12 were proceeding (Mark 4:37). Being exhausted from the strain of His demanding ministry, Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat, notwithstanding the storm which was severe enough that the disciples thought they were going to die (Mark 4:38). They woke Jesus up and berated Him for not caring about them whereupon He spoke to the wind, rebuking it, and said to the waves, “Be still!” Immediately the wind died down and the water became perfectly calm (Mark 4:39). Jesus commented to the 12 about their lack of faith and their fear (Mark 4:40). On their part, the 12 suddenly realized that Jesus was more than they thought He was; He could even command nature! They were awed and filled with reverential fear (Mark 4:14). “Who is this man?” they said amongst themselves.

When they arrived to their destination, they were in the region of the Gerasenes (Mark 5:1). Jesus had hardly stepped out of the boat when a demon-possesed man came up to Him. This man was an outcast from his own community because he was out of control; so he lived in the tombs (people of Jesus' day believed that demons lived amongst tombs). The man, or really the demons in the man, shouted to Jesus, calling Him by name and title and wanting assurance that they would not be tortured (Mark 5:6-8). As we saw previously (cf. Mark 1:23-26), the demons know who Jesus is and are afraid, as He has authority over them in that He is God. It seems that they don't want to be sent into eternal punishment. Jesus inquires about the name of the man, and the demon replies “Legion” ( a Roman legion of soldiers had 3000-6000 soldiers) indicating that there were many demons present (Mark 5:9 & 10). The demons then asked – no, they begged Jesus not to send them away, and asked to be sent into a herd of pigs that were nearby. Jesus gave permission and the demons left the man and entered into the pigs, intent on destruction (Satan is the “Destroyer.” cf. Revelation 9:11), for they immediately made the pig run down the steep embankment and into the lake where they drowned (Mark 5:13). Did Jesus cause the pigs to do what they did? Certainly not; He simply gave the demons permission to leave the man and enter the pigs; it was the demons who destroyed the herd. In any case, the townspeople heard about what happened and came to Jesus before whom sat the previously possessed man, now healed, dressed and in his right mind (Mark 5:14-16). This was another opportunity for people to respond to Jesus. He had just healed a possessed man and set him free; that same freeing power was available to all! But what was the response? It was to fear Jesus, not follow Him; the people were more worried about their physical and economic well-being than about spiritual healing. Consequently, they pleaded for Jesus to leave the area. On the other hand, the healed man begged to go with Jesus; he knew what had happened and was ready to follow Jesus. However, Jesus told the man to go and tell people what had happened; in other words, to go share the gospel. The man did so in the area (Decapolis) around him, and people were amazed (Mark 5:18-20).

Jesus and the 12 went back across the lake to Capernaum, and was surrounded by the crowd yet again (Mark 5:21). A synagogue ruler (one with responsibility in the local Jewish synagogue, though not a priest) named Jairus came to Him and asked Him to heal his sick daughter (Mark 5:21-23). This man had faith enough to believe that Jesus was both able and willing to heal his daughter. Jesus responded by going with him (Mark 5:24a). As he was walking to the official's house, the crowds pressed around Him, and in the midst of this, a woman with a long-standing health issue of bleeding came up to Him if only to touch His clothing, believing that to do so would be sufficient to provide healing to her (Mark 5:25-28). She was successful and was healed immediately (Mark 5:29). Jesus was aware that His power had been applied and asked who touched Him (Mark 5:30). The 12 were incredulous that he would ask such a thing with all the crowd surrounding Him; they still didn't understand who Jesus was! (Mark 5:31) But Jesus continued to ask and the woman came forward and fell at His feet. By so doing, she showed great courage as given her condition she would have been considered unclean, and anyone touching her would also become unclean as a result. She had already worked her way to Jesus and indeed touched Him. Now she came to Him when He called and told Him what had happened. Jesus told her that her faith had brought about the healing and bade her to go in peace (Mark 5:32-34). What a wonderful result! But meanwhile, the some men from the synagogue came and said that Jairus's daughter had died and he should not bother Jesus any more (Mark 5:35). Jesus told Jairus not to be afraid but just to believe and He continued on to the house with only Peter, James and John, where they encountered a commotion of family and professional mourners (use of professional, paid mourners was customary). Jesus told them all that the girl was not dead, but was merely asleep (Mark 5:37-39). The mourners stopped their mourning and laughed at Him (Mark 5:40a). Certainly they lacked faith to believe. Jesus put everyone out, took Jairus and his wife, along with Peter, James and John, proceeded to the 12-year old girl and spoke to her in Aramaic (which Mark translates), telling her to get up, which she immediately did. He had healed her; indeed, He had raised her from the dead! And to prove it so, and meet her needs, he ordered her to be fed (Mark 5:41-43) Amazing! Everyone was astonished; here was a man who could raise a dead person to life! (Mark 5:42b) But Jesus told them all not to say anything about what He did, one thinks because the news would cause people to respond to Him for the wrong reason, namely for physical healing rather than for spiritual healing (Mark 5:43).

Jesus left Capernaum and went on to Nazareth (Mark 6:1). He didn't go to his home town to visit His family, but rather to teach and bring the gospel message. He went directly to the local synagogue where He, as a visiting personage, was allowed to teach (Mark 6:2). The people were amazed at His teaching, but only because they knew Him as Jesus, the carpenter's son, and who had 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters. And they also noted that He was “Mary's son” which clearly suggests they viewed Him as being “illegitimate” as Joseph was not Jesus' father (Mark 6:2b & 3). Again, we see an opportunity for people to respond, in this case, people who would have known Jesus for His entire life. And what was their response? It was not to follow Him as He spoke the gospel; rather it was to doubt who He was, to make disparaging remarks about His background, and to take offense (As if to say, “Who do you think you are?”). As a result of this lack of faith and rejection, Jesus did not do many miracles in Nazareth, and was amazed at the lack of faith (Mark 6:4-6a). What a sad scene, to be sure!

Jesus' call throughout this text, and His call continuing to this day, is that one hear His words, come to grips with who He is (the God-man!), and respond to Him. His further call is that one follow Him by confessing who He is and putting one's faith in Him for salvation. Throughout this text, we see different people facing the question of who Jesus is, but with varying responses. The 12 followed Him, answering His call to discipleship even while not fully understanding who He was and the full extent of the meaning of following Him. The religious authorities denied who He was and rejected Him. The crowds had varying responses, from simply wanting what He could give on a material and physical level, to believing in Him (Jairus, and the woman with the bleeding). His family wanted to take charge of Him. The Nazareth community saw Him as their neighbor who had grown up and lived among them, a carpenter with a questionable birth, and they rejected Him. In the foregoing responses, Jesus “rewarded” faith, even if that faith was wavering, small and even tentative. He welcomes those to His kingdom who submit to His Lordship, knowing that their understanding will grow as they come to really know who He is (the Messiah-King, Lord over all, and Lord of their life) and what it means to give up self and become totally His. Indeed, He came for such people, offering life! But those who reject Him, who refuse to bow the knee to His Lordship, who continue to be at the center of their own universe, He will ultimately reject and grant them their choice (Mark 3:28 & 29; 4:11 & 12). Thanks be to God that Jesus the Christ came and that He calls us to follow, and that as we come to Him in faith, He will receive us with open arms into His kingdom!