Blog, Walking through Mark

Walking through Mark: Mark 3:1-19

As Jesus continues His ministry, there is increasing conflict with the religious leaders. Chapter 2 ends with a discussion about the Sabbath and chapter 3 begins with the same issue. Jesus continues to do good on the Sabbath, but the religious leaders begin their plot to destroy Him, presumably also on the Sabbath. The echo of His words in Mark 2:20 ring a little more clearly now as the plotting begins for His death.

After the Sabbath healing, again he draws big crowds from an increasing geographic area as He does the work of His ministry. As the crowds swell, Jesus chooses to respond by withdrawing and choosing His 12 apostles. These are the men who will carry on His mission after He ascends to the Father. Here begins the separation between Jesus’ true followers and those who are simply there for what He can do for them.

As we look at chapter three, let’s keep marking some themes that we’ve begun to notice in Mark.

  1. Continue as we did in chapter 1, to mark the word “immediately” with a red circle.

2. Circle the word “crowd” in orange when you find it in this chapter. Continue to note how Jesus responds to the crowds and how they respond to Him.

3. Circle in black every instance of the words scribe and Pharisee and underline the word disciple and apostle in green. This chapter is beginning to give some insight into who is opposed to Jesus, who follows Him in the crowd, and who is in His inner circle.


Where did Jesus go again in verse 1? Who was there? How is he described?

In verse 2, who do you think “they” refers to? What were they doing and why?

What day was it?

Who initiated this healing in verse 3?

What question did Jesus ask in verse 4? Who does it seem like He was talking to?

Why do you think Jesus asked this question? What was the group’s response? Why do you think they responded that way?

What emotions did Jesus feel after they didn’t respond? Why was Jesus grieved? What does “hardness of heart” mean?

What do Jesus’ emotions tell you about Him? What does it tell you about those emotions?

What did Jesus say to heal the man? What did the man do to be healed? Do you think this was easy for the man?

What was the response of the Pharisees after this? Why do you think they responded this way?

Who do you think Jesus was trying to draw to Himself with this story, the religious leaders or the man with the withered hand? Why?

What did Jesus do in verse 7 after He healed the man with the withered hand? Who was with Him?

Where were the crowds from? Look up those locations on a map. Why do you think Mark included these details of their geographic origins?

Why were crowds coming to Him? How big was the crowd? What were they trying to do?

What did the unclean spirits do? What was Jesus’ response? Why do you think they responded that way?

How are the people in verse 13 different than the people in the crowd? (in makeup and number)

What did Jesus do in verse 14? What three jobs did they have?

Write out the names of the apostles and any descriptions the text includes of them as individuals. Why do you think Jesus chose 12 disciples?


Jesus often had the religious leaders watching Him to see if what He was doing was against their religious rules. They were watching to see if He messed up. Thankfully Jesus was perfect and never messed up. Are you like the Pharisees, always watching those around you hoping to criticize them and point out where they sin? Confess your negativity and judgmentalism and ask God to help you have a more positive perspective on others.

Are you one that seems to always have others watching you and pointing out where you’re messing up? Pray that God would give you strength to live in a way that glorifies Him with every action and motive. Ask Him for encouragement when those around you can be discouraging.

In verse 5, Jesus looked around at the religious leaders with anger and grief over their hardness of heart. Does the spiritual hardness of those around you affect you? Do you grieve over the lack of spiritual life in others? What other emotions does it make you feel? If you are callous to their spiritual need, ask God to give you compassion for them.

Jesus cared more about the spiritual lostness of the religious leaders than the way they were keeping the law. Being a good person and keeping religious norms are not the way of salvation. Ask God to help you care more about people’s eternal destiny and less about their offensive actions.

Since Jesus felt the emotions of anger and grief and we know that Jesus never sinned, these emotions can’t be sinful in themselves. What makes them sinful? Are you acting on those emotions in sinful ways?

The man with the withered hand had to take a risk to be healed. It was probably embarrassing and possibly painful for him to stretch out his hand for Jesus. Again, Mark shows that true faith is accompanied by actions. According to Edwards in “The Gospel According to Mark” Pillar Commentary, “Faith is not a private wager but a public risk that Jesus is worthy of trust when no other hope can be trusted.” Are you putting this kind of risky faith in Jesus? In what area have you been withholding trust?

Jesus withdrew from the crowds to appoint His closest companions, the disciples. He was more about His mission than impressing people. What is most important to you? Do you value influence and power in an unhealthy way? Do you care more about your reputation or about obeying what the Lord has asked you to do?

The first task of the disciples that is listed is to “be with Him.” In order for you to spiritually impact the life of another, you need to be close to Jesus. Are you walking with Jesus? What do you need to change in your life to make that a reality?

Of the 12 apostles listed here, there are several that we don’t know much about, yet they were faithful followers of Jesus that contributed to the advancement of the gospel in its earliest days. Are you willing to be faithful to the Lord even when no one recognizes you for it?


Ask God to help you see good things in those around you

Pray that He would make you an encouragement to others

Request that God reveal areas where you are negative or judgmental

Entreat God for encouragement as you desire to glorify Him with your life

Pray that in the face of opposition, He will give you strength to live joyfully for Him

Ask that He reveal areas where you people please or get your identity from something other than Him

Request that God give you grief for the hardness of heart of those around you

Ask that He take control of your emotions

Ask Him to make you patient and not sinful in anger

Petition the Lord to help you point to the gospel with the non-believers around you instead of pointing to their deeds that need to be increasingly moral

Thank God for the faithful gospel witness of the countless unrecognized saints of church history

Ask God to reveal areas where you desire recognition more that God’s glory and gospel advancement

Resources used:

R. Alan Cole, Mark: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 2, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989).

James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002).

R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002).

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