7 June 2015

Mark 3:20-35

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins.” (v. 28)

Psalm: Psalm 130


Mark is the youngest Gospel writer of the shortest of the four Gospels. The chronology of events as Mark records them is a little haphazard, not running parallel with the other Gospels in the earlier sections. The background to today's passage is the call of the disciples and some of the early healing miracles, which caused great crowds to follow him. Christ has his family and disciples around him. And because word has travelled about some of Christ's activities, the Scribes are also present observing and commenting.

Perhaps Christ is a little bemused that so early in his visible ministry his accusers are already gossiping so, not heeding his family's request to tone it down, he goes outdoors to meet his antagonists and gently calls them to him. In the way Mark writes I can almost hear Christ saying, "Come along all of you let's sit down and sort out our problems together!"

These are the sort of problems that often beset us today. Someone new comes on the scene and behaves in a way that is unusual, says things that are contrary to what has been always understood and thus causes feelings of uncertainty. And what do we do? Well the easy thing to do is to put labels on that person, put them into a kind of box that keeps them at a safe distance so that we don't have to understand what they are saying or doing.

Sensing that the gathered crowds are feeling threatened, Christ goes out to meet them and gently shows them that if he were Satan, as he was accused of being (verse 22), then how could he cast Satan out of himself (verse 23)? He continues by holding up before the crowd circumstances where divisions weaken people and institutions (verse 24-25).

It is not difficult to look out at our society and find situations where the stranger has been isolated and considered a threat, and where new ideas are misinterpreted. Even in the Church, strangers are not always welcome and new ideas are sometimes thought to be unchristian. As the gathered company adopts positions to defend themselves from this new 'invasion', the society begins to break down or individuals are hurt or even broken.

Brokenness brought about by our own levels of distrust is what Christ came to overcome, to heal us where we feel broken and to heal communities where they feel kept apart.

To Ponder

  • Where have you been when someone new has sought to join your community? With the ones who question or have you been prepared to listen and welcome?
  • What do you learn about yourself as you reflect on these circumstances?
  • Moments of healing can also be times of personal growth. As you recall times when you have felt whole again, consider what new insights the experience has offered you.


Bible notes author

Margaret Sawyer

Margaret Sawyer has worked for the Methodist Connexional Team for ten years, first as connexional secretary for Women's Network and then as the Church's equality and diversity officer. She now works to support preaching and worship in her local circuit and district.