Aligning Ourselves With God’s Mission (Mark 3:7-19)

Although Mark 3:7-19 may be easy to glide over because it contains healing stories which are prevalent in Mark’s gospel as well as a list of names, it is loaded with richness and applicability for the church today.

Mark 3:7-19

[7] Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, [8] and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. [9] And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; [10] for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. [11] Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!” [12] And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was. [13] And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. [14] And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, [15] and to have authority to cast out the demons. [16] And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), [17] and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); [18] and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; [19] and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.

The passage shows us Jesus’ continue mission as God’s kingdom invades the kingdom of darkness. And I think that one of the ways the text speaks today is by challenging us to align ourselves with God’s mission. But how?

First, we need to understand who Jesus really is (3:7-12). It’s significant that the only voice we hear in the passage is that of demons declaring that Jesus is “the Son of God” (3:11). The demons rightly discern Jesus’ identity, but have no love for Him. The crowds, on the other hand, believe that Jesus is some kind of miracle worker and come to Him to be healed (3:7-8). Of course, Jesus does heal the crowds, but His mission is more than healing. His mission is the gospel, the “good news”: to bring about freedom from Satan, sin, and death through His death and resurrection (1:1, 10:45). So we must understand that Jesus is both the Suffering Servant who dies for His sins of His people (Mark 10:45), and the Glorious King (by virtue of His resurrection) who turns back the forces of Satan and sin.

Second, we need to become a disciple of Jesus (3:13-19). Notice that Jesus calls His disciples to Himself: “And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him” (3:13). Although it may be the case that Jesus is merely saying, “Hey guys, come up to the mountain with me,” I think the verse is saying more. There is a contrast between the crowds and Jesus’ disciples. Jesus does not call all the crowds to follow Him up to the mountain, but He does call His disciples. I think the text gives rise to the question, “Have I been summoned by Jesus? Have I been called as a disciple?” Our response in becoming a disciple is to believe and trust in Jesus.

Jesus also commissions His disciples with the task of preaching and exorcism (3:14-15). The disciples function as a “proto-church” in the Gospels for the Holy Spirit has not yet come down in Pentecost to begin the church in its fullness (Acts 2). But the same general commission still remains for the church: the church is tasked to preach the gospel to all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). But what about exorcism? I think that exorcisms were more prevalent in the Gospels because Jesus as the King was ushering in God’s kingdom to the earth. There was a very real clash between kingdoms. Today, the church also advances the kingdom of God through the preaching of the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, not necessarily through exorcisms (though I don’t rule out the possibility of them being necessary from time to time).

Aligning ourselves with God’s mission, then, requires we rightly understand who Jesus is and also follow His way by becoming commissioned disciples as part of His church.

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