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The Gospel According to Mark read by David Suchet:


Are You Cold: Mark 3:1-6
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday February 23, 2020

We’ll look at 3 points in today’s passage:

This whole scene is set up to show hard hearts
This gives a healthy view of rest
God’s good heart and motives are on plain display

In these 6 verses, we’ll see an undertone behind this story that is the Gospel of God. His plan to save a sinful, lost mankind and restore us to Himself. Is that you, are you lost – way, maybe far away from God – you don’t have to be, that’s the entire point of today’s story is to show lost people their lostness and call them home – God is good and his motives are on plain display here – I hope you’ll see it if you’re far and come near. We’ll ask, are you cold to God’s purposes and presence?

Mark 3:1–6 (ESV)
A Man with a Withered Hand
3 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand.

This wasn’t strange for Jesus in Mark’s Gospel to be entering the synagogue. We see it in 1:21 and 1:39 above, this was a very normal thing for Jesus to be doing, going and worshipping in the synagogue. But today we’ll see a bit of a different focus that Mark looks at.

Mark 1:21 (ESV)
Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Spirit
21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching.

Mark 1:39 (ESV)
39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

I want you to make a quick note of this, Mark is telling the story here of the healing of the man with the withered hand, you can see it also in Matthew 12:9-13 and Mark 3:1-6. We’re going to see this story start with the man who has a withered hand, and be almost nothing about him and his hand – it’s going to be about human relationship with God. The whole thing is a set up to show hardness of heart. And that may sound harsh, but it’s loving – what if no one ever let you know you had a heart that was cold towards, God. That was one of my first reactions to people who were Christian after my salvation – was a feeling of, you people knew all this and never told me…

Matthew 12:9-13 (ESV)
A Man with a Withered Hand
9 He went on from there and entered their synagogue.
10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him.
11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out?
12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.

So Jesus exposes their hard hearts, and more than that, leaves behind a template for seeing resistance to God, we can examine ourselves against the Pharisee too.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) (write this down)
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

This is written to believers, if you’re an unbeliever you have bigger problems, no need to test yourself you are NOT in the faith. I mean this is to the believer to see if you’re IN the faith – there should be some fruit in you life, in your heart, if not check that live an examined life, with an active faith not a passive one! If you find no wrong in your path, if you’re always right….

Look for some wrong this week, if you can’t find any, start praying!

2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.

Here is starts: This whole scene is set up to show hard hearts, but in the freedom of their hearts they walk into it, they initiate it, Jesus just lets them come straight in – here is all Jesus does to set it up, the pharisees “watched Jesus” why… to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath… why, because they think He’d be guilty of violating the rule for rest then they could kill Him. Is that sick? But let’s not forget to ask am I cold to God’s purposes and presence?

Does Jesus side step, avoid or go with it? Lets not delay, lets see…

3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.

OK, so Jesus if clearly, all in. He doubles down, and called out the elephant in the room. All eyes were on the withered hand guy, is Jesus holding the hand as He says the following:

4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.

Before we talk about what’s interesting here regarding Jesus exact wording and line of questioning, let’s first talk sabbath.

The Sabbath is from the Hebrew word Sabbat which could come the word Sabat meaning, stop. The meaning of the word sabbath theologically comes from Genesis 2:2-3, we’ll read it because it’s important:

Genesis 2:2–3 (ESV) (write this down)
2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

If you look at this, on it’s face it seems graceful, somewhat straight forward, and relaxing. If you’re an office worker you respond to emails and go to meetings, you know it, it’s what you do. So you respond to 300 emails, your iPhone tells you your average phone time is unto 10 hours a week and 50% of that is on productivity apps and your candy crush time is down a whopping 20% – you’re crushing it, you come into the office on Saturday because you’re slaughtering the game this week – and you do some more emailing and set meetings up for the next week. People are going to see your Saturday emails and be impressed with your work ethic!

Maybe you’re a landscaper, you’re killing it with number of properties maintained. You’re hedges are looking sharp, trees are well maintained, beds look supreme – and you helped another crew with their properties … killing it.

Then – on the 7th day (because you start your week on Monday and go through Saturday, it’s OK) you rest, and you reflect.

Exodus 20:8–11 (ESV)
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Oh… wait. It’s holy, it’s set apart, it’s different than the other days, holy is the best word it means different. Which is helpful, if you have a lot of things it’s helpful to pull one out and know, this one, this one is different. Like if you’re playing a shell game, it can be hard to find the pea under the shell because all the shells look the same, but if the shell with the pea under it looked different then, you’d know. This is the sabbath day of rest, it as one day out of 7, is different. How so, well…

On this one you rest, the others you work
You’re to remember it, and KEEP it holy
It’s TO the Lord your God
In the last 6 days, the Lord made the heavens, the seas, and everything in them

This gives a healthy view of rest.

It’s that 1st and 4th point, that is so important. This one you rest keep it different, and remember bask and think on this: over these days where you emailed and had meetings, where you even worked on the weekend, “the Lord made the heavens, the seas, and everything in them”. Do you understand what this is doing? It’s a weekly level set back to God – a spiritual check up if you will every single week that says buddy, you’re small and your God is so very big he made everything.

Stop what you’re doing on this one day whatever your job is, don’t do it, worship God, rest, and be restored in Him. Do you see the health here?

And so here is Jesus, on the sabbath, made for his creatures of creation, you and I and the people in this story. I think again of John 3:16-19 I want you to go back to these words often and check yourself against them:

John 3:16–19 (ESV)
For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

You’re seeing this here. These are people who’d built an entire way of life, businesses and systems of gathering money and dispensing guilt over Sabbath. It still tears at people today “am I doing this right” they wonder, Scripture says take a break from your work and think about God, religious systems say – you have to pray this way on this day, you cannot leave your house on this day, can’t lift anything heavier than a spoon on this day, oops cooking is work better not cook on this day, and now they feel guilty and burdened, does this sound like rest?

But don’t judges they players in the story ask yourself: Am I cold to God’s purposes and presence?

Jesus says, Matthew 11:30 (ESV)
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Does this sound easy and light? The scripture does, to me it sounds relaxing and restful, the 400 some laws of the Pharisee don’t.

This is why I said that, “God’s heart and motives are on display” His purpose and function for rest are being misunderstood and/or twisted and people are missing seeing HIM in the sabbath – Jesus comes to bring clarity. To show the headless of hearts and point through that to God, are you seeing it?

And so here is Jesus, on the sabbath, maybe with a withered hand in His grasp, on a day made for His creatures of His creation, you and I and the people in this story. Here he is saying “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” Do you catch the strangeness of His question? “to do good, or to do harm, to save a life or to kill”. He presents a positive that’s a DUHHH and a negative that’s perplexing.

Here is why, and hold on to your seat: if they affirmed the positive, they’d have to affirm the negative. What do I mean: if they said no it’s not unlawful to do good, they’d have to say it isn’t unlawful to do harm, and they were there to do harm, while Jesus was doing good. It’s almost easy to forget that there was a man with a withered hand in this story – he’s so far in the background at this point that he’s background noise – this is all about the darkness of the pharisee’s heart. That John 3:19 that loves the darkness of the world.

But they were silent.

They said nothing. They were busted and they knew it, but do you know what – they didn’t care! Here is how I know

5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

He responded with anger, grieved…. That’s powerful. Jesus’ anger was righteous and balanced. He wasn’t just full of fury with His actions hateful it was a balanced measured reaction to sin, that triggered anger, it was holy righteous anger not unbridled fury or reaction to personal hurt – it was God’s glory that was attacked – and Jesus was angry AND grieved in balance. Why, because John 3:19, their hearts loved the darkness more than the light. And the entire scene was set up to show that.

What did they do next?

6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

And now, it’s on. The race against time. The great conspiracy to Kill Jesus that will be a success and great failure. Satan’s purpose, destroy Jesus, God’s ultimate end, use this great evil against His sinless son, to be an outlet for wrath against sin to bring about forgiveness. The most amazing transaction, of all time and that is the Gospel that is available to you today. Pray to God am I cold to your purposes and presence?

This whole story, is so that you can see God’s good heart and movies on plain display. Do you see it, Jesus doing good, Jesus saving life as His ultimate aim isn’t something they can be OK with because they’d have to accept the guilt of their desire to destroy. Where is our heart, aligned with Jesus healing mission or exposed as hateful?

This whole scene is set up to show hard hearts
This gives a healthy view of rest
God’s good heart and movies are on plain display

What can I do this week to engage? First of all, you should have two passages written down, in a note pad on you phone, in your bulletin notes section, on the back of your hand….

1. 2 Corinthians 13:5
Read it this week, look for some wrong! Ask, God am I cold to your purposes and presence?

2. Genesis 2:2–3
Read it this week, and ask yourself, what would this pattern in life do for someone – to work 6 and spend an entire day reflecting on the greatness of God? How can you sew something like this into your life, regular reflection on God?

And remember, God’s motives for you, are good!

Pray, Observe, Apply.

Pray, Observe, Apply.