A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

Mark 3:7-30 - The Gospel of Mark

Bible study


Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Mark 3:7-30

So far in Mark’s Gospel, we have seen crowds following Jesus. He was a popular figure in the first year of His ministry. On the other hand, we have seen the opposition and criticism of the Jewish religious leaders, something which continued right through to Jesus’ crucifixion. The division of those who believe and those who don’t is clearly seen in all the Gospels and in fact, in life in general. Jesus’ words bring conviction to consciences and people will respond either by receiving or rejecting them. We will see more of this as we go on.

Verses 7 & 8 Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the lake and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard all He was doing, many people came to Him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon.

Much of Jesus’ ministry took place around the lake called Galilee in the north of the country of Israel. Because miracles had taken place, people’s tongues were wagging and the word spread rapidly. Curious people, needy people of all kinds formed a crowd wanting to get as close as they could to Jesus. Some came from over the borders to the north and the east.

Verses 9 & 10 Because of the crowd He told His disciples to have a small boat ready for Him, to keep the people from crowding Him. For He had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch Him.

It is not hard to imagine this scene. Crowds are not easy to control and anxious people wanted to be healed at all costs. Unless the Lord had found a way to keep apart from them, there would have been chaos. Standing or sitting in a small boat just few metres from the shore, enabled Jesus to speak to them in a controlled environment.

Verses 11 & 12 Whenever the evil spirits saw Him, they fell down before Him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But He gave them strict orders not to tell who He was.

Evil spirits became more apparent during Jesus’ ministry. He was invading their territory. Of course, they were subject to Him and could do nothing to prevent His work among the people. Perhaps they cried out in dismay, knowing that Jesus is Lord, spelling their eventual doom. Jesus did not want them to have any part in announcing who He was.

Verses 13-15 Jesus went up into the hills and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.

Part of Jesus’ plans was to have a trained group of men who would have the task of spreading the truth and widening the ministry. Eventually, He was to hand over the work to them before His departure from this scene. Many were following Him, but Jesus knew whom He wanted to belong to the inner circle. An apostle was a person who was sent. One who travelled to take the Word of God to the world around. The demons mentioned are the same as the evil spirits already referred to.

An Apostle
An Apostle, painted about 1618. Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)

Verses 16-19 These are the twelve He appointed: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.

Obviously, Jesus knew each one and did not pick randomly. He had known at least some of them for quite some time—they were not complete newcomers. James and John must have been fiery types to be called Sons of Thunder. Judas was not of good character but as we know, he had his place. The task of making godly men out of this group of very ordinary people and training them for the work, was being undertaken by the greatest teacher of all.

Verse 20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that He and His disciples we not even able to eat.

Having some privacy was very difficult under these circumstances. The group was unable to shake off the crowd who wanted to follow Jesus’ every movement. This situation can be stressful.

Verse 21 When His family heard about this, they went to take charge of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’

The mother and brothers and sisters of Jesus lived in Nazareth, not a great distance from Galilee. Reference to the family is made in Matthew 13:55,56 and John 7:3-5. Hearing about the unusual happenings and Jesus’ claims about Himself, they concluded that He must be mentally unbalanced. So they thought they would have to take Him in hand

Verse 22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebub!’ By the prince of demons He is driving out demons.

If the accusation of insanity was way out, this further insult was even worse. This is about as wayward as you can get, to attribute the good work of Jesus to an evil source. It seems that the human heart will do anything, believe anything, to escape the obvious truth and to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.

Verses 23-27 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.

This answer shows the depth of Jesus’ wisdom and the foolishness of the accusations that had been made. All that Jesus did overthrew evil, therefore He cannot be on the side of evil. Just how serious it is to make such allegations we see next.

Verses 28-30 ‘I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit.’

There is such a thing as an unpardonable sin. Jesus is saying that every kind of sin can be forgiven (not automatically, but through repentance), except for speaking against the Holy Spirit and classing His work as evil. In a very real sense, this is what all people are doing who reject Christ. They are denying the truth spoken by the Holy Spirit. While that is their attitude, they will not find forgiveness.


We have seen that there is a big divide between those who accept Jesus and trust in Him as Lord and Saviour and those who stand against Him. In one place Jesus said that those who are not with Him are against Him. We should think seriously about this. So much hangs on the attitude we take. How much better to have His blessing on your life than to stand on the wrong side.

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