The Gospel of Mark | Opposition | Mark 3.1-6 | 

by | Nov 2, 2023

“Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” Mark 3.1-6

If you are going to do the work of God you will face opposition. We see this constantly in the news — pastors and or churches being persecuted, Christians being shut down for free speech or imprisoned in countries that are hostile to the Gospel. Why is this? What does it seem to be only the Christian and Jews who face this kind of opposition? Simple answer – because we are waging a spiritual war and the forces against us do not want God’s truth to be known.

But today isn’t really about spiritual warfare but it is about the opposition Jesus faced while in the synagogue and how he fulfilled the work of God in spite of those who opposed what he was going. Jesus did not let humans (or the devil) prevent him from his mission and neither should we.

You read the story above, Jesus is in the synagogue and a man with a shriveled hand was there. The man was not begging for Jesus’ help, he was just there worshipping the Lord. But Jesus sees him, as he sees us. Even though Jesus was being watched by the religious leaders to see if he might perform a healing miracle on the Sabbath (i.e. do work), he did not care. He knew he was being watched and still he asked the man to stand up and he said, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”

The text tells us that the religious leaders remained silent. And so, Jesus looked around at them “in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”’ Jesus was angry because they were more concerned with following the letter of the law than the intent. They were willing to refuse this mans healing, to get his life back, rather than break self-imposed laws of legalism.

But Jesus, who is God, brings healing and he cares about people. And so he had the man stretch out his hand and it was healed completely. As a result, the “religious” Jews began to look for a way to kill Jesus.

Even though Jesus faced opposition on earth, he was not willing to forfeit the will of God. Jesus faced the greatest opposition by dying on the cross. He endured such pain and suffering so we might have forgiveness of sins. He was obedient to God even to death.

I wonder, what kind of opposition, hardships or trials are we facing because we are putting God’s mission first? Are we sacrificing time, energy, effort, finances or comfort for the kingdom. How about our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church? They face physical beatings and even death for standing up for the sake of Christ. Why? Because our battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6). But God has won the battle and overcome the enemy. He is our shield and our protector. Regardless of what opposition we face, lean into the Lord. Allow Christ to rule in your hearts and guide your steps so that you might be the person he has called and created you to be. By his grace and for his glory.

“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for bringing truth to this world and for standing upon your Word. Thank you that in the midst of people who oppose your message that you remain faithful. Help me, Lord, to do the same. Help me to stay true to what you have called me to be for your Kingdom. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen