Fans, followers and foes

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Mark 3:7-35.

  1. Australian Beatlemania

In 1964 Beatlemania swept Australia. The nation was captivated by the one and only visit of the Beatles to Australia. The Fab Four had become an international sensation with hit after hit topping the charts in 1963. In 1964 they landed to do 13-day concert tour visiting every capital city in Australia. Wherever they went they were mobbed by huge crowds of mostly teenage fans hoping to get a glimpse of their idols. Australia had never seen anything like it before and for that matter neither had the world[1].

  • Adelaide

In Adelaide alone it is estimated that over 300,000 people lined the streets to see them. This was nearly half of the population of Adelaide at the time which was around 680,000. It was the biggest Beatles crowd to ever form anywhere in the world and was never to ever be repeated to that extent again.

  • Melbourne

There was mayhem on the streets of Melbourne as the Beatles tried to get from the airport to their hotel. Crowds poured out onto the streets outside their hotel in Melbourne just to get glimpse of the Beatles from their balcony.

The popularity of the Beatles translated into huge crowds. They couldn’t go anywhere without having hundreds of police to control the crowds preventing things from getting out of hand. In Melbourne the crowd was so big and so intent on getting as close as they could to the Beatles that 300 police were not enough to control the crowd and navy and army cadets had to be called in to keep order and prevent a disaster from happening[2].

  1. Galilean “Jesus-mania”

In the reading today/tonight we meet a kind of Jesus-mania in Galilee. In today/tonight’s reading the crowds are always in the background and are mentioned several times (v7, v8, v9, v20, v32). But being a fan of Jesus doesn’t make you a disciple of Jesus. Today/tonight I want to think about the difference between the fans who will crowd around Jesus and his followers, the disciples. To do this we are going to look at the crowds in verse 7 to 11, the appointment of the Twelve in verses 13 to 18, and what Jesus said about how people move from being fans to followers and family in verses 20 to 35.

  1. The crowds

We met the crowds in verse 7 and 8.

Mark 3:7-8

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.[3]

  • The crowds were large

The popularity of Jesus was such that he was drawing people from all over Palestine. They came from Idumea in the south and from Tyre and Sidon up north on the coast and from the regions across the Jordan in the east. Jesus was drawing large crowds from across all of Palestine. Mark emphasises the largeness of the numbers by referring to them as a “great multitude” in verse 7 and then again in verse 8. Sadly, we don’t pick up this emphasis on the size of the crowd because instead of repeating the words “a large crowd” or “a great multitude” in verse 8 the NIV Bible just using the personal pronoun “they”. I quite like the Christian Standard Bible translation of these verses.

Mark 3:7-8 (CSB)

Jesus  departed with His disciples to the sea, and a large crowd followed from Galilee,  Judea,  Jerusalem,  Idumea, beyond the Jordan,  and around Tyre  and Sidon.  The large crowd came to Him because they heard about everything He was doing.[4]

  • They were crowding Jesus

The crowd was so large that Jesus decided to take some precautionary measures. In verse 9 we are told that it was because of the crowd that Jesus told his disciples to have small boat ready for him. This was so that he could push off from the shore if he needed to escape the eager press of the crowds if it became necessary. So, what do we make of these crowds and this popularity that Jesus seemed to have with them? Were all these people ready to become disciples of Jesus?

  • They were more interested in his miracles than his message

Sadly, at this point there is no indication that they were. They seem to be more interested in what Jesus had been doing rather than what he had been saying. They were more interested in experiencing his miracles rather than hearing his message and believing in him.

In verse 8 we read that it was when they heard all that he was doing, that they came to him. In verse 9 Mark explains that the reason that Jesus was being crowded by so many was because he had healed many and those with diseases were there pushing forward to touch him obviously hoping that they too might be healed. The crowds at this point largely view Jesus as a miracle worker who can make them better. They were coming to him hoping that he would heal them of their diseases.

  • But Jesus is more than just a miracle worker

Understandably people who are sick want to be healed, but if this is all Jesus is to you, if he is just someone who you turn to because you think that he can heal you, you don’t really understand who he is. At this point in the story only the evil spirits seem to understand who Jesus really is, but Jesus gave them strict order to tell no one.

Mark 3:11-12

11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

The large crowds that gathered around Jesus didn’t necessarily result in lots of them becoming disciples of Jesus.  The crowds were big fans of what Jesus had been doing, but they never really understood who Jesus was and become his followers. The crowds will for a time follow Jesus around, but as a group they never truly become followers for they don’t follow Jesus on his terms. They want him to do for them what they want. They were more interested in what Jesus could do for them than to understand what these things were revealing about him and how they ought to respond. Wanting Jesus to do something for you isn’t the same thing as acknowledging who he is and following him.

I think that sometimes the same thing can happen today. People can think they are followers, but really, they are just fans who are hanging around Jesus hoping that he will help them with the stuff that is going on in their lives. But fans are not followers for followers are those who come to Jesus not their own terms but his terms.

  1. The Twelve

We see this with the calling of twelve in verses 13 to 19. Jesus left the crowds by the lake and went up on the mountainside he called or summoned those he wanted and they came to Him.

Mark 3:13-15

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons.

Mark has told us how Jesus called the Twelve and he appointed them and designated to be apostles.

  • Their appointment

The fact that there were twelve was not an accident. Israel had been made up of twelve tribes. Jesus seems to have purposely chosen the number twelve to indicate that by calling these men to follow him he was forming a new people of God around him. Around Jesus we have a new Israel or a renewed Israel coming into being. Jesus calls people to himself and by coming and following him they become the people of God.

  • Their names

The names of the twelve are listed in verses 16 to 19. Mark has used what seems to have been a list of more personal names that Jesus had for his disciples. To Simon he also gave the name Peter which meant “rock” or “stone” and James and John he seemed to have nicknamed the sons of Thunder. Oddly there is no mention of Levi, the tax-collector who Mark has already talked about in chapter 2, but most think that Levi was probably just another name for Matthew who, from the gospel that bear his name, we know was a tax-collector (see Matthew 9:9 & 10:3). The last person on the list is Judas who would not be true to the call to follow him and would betray him.

  • Their assignment

The twelve are given an assignment. They are designated apostles which meant that they were Jesus’ messengers. The twelve were called to be with Jesus so that they might be his witnesses who he would send out as his messengers to preach the gospel and to drive out demons. His disciples were to join Jesus in his mission preaching the good news and releasing the captives from the demonic powers that were opposing him. The twelve were a uniquely designated group who would being with Jesus, seeing all that he did and hearing all that he taught so that they could be his witnesses and pass on the gospel to others.

  • Our assignment

The assignment was simple, the Twelve were to be gathering others into the kingdom through the preaching of the good news. When he called Simon and his brother Andrew he called them to follow him and he would make them fishers of men (1:17) Later in the gospel, in chapter 6, the Lord would send the disciples out two by two to all the towns and villages in Galilee. Jesus’ mission would become the mission of the Twelve and eventually the mission of the church. After his resurrection, he would tell the disciples that they were to go and make disciples of all nations (see Matt 28:18-20). Today, his disciples are still preaching the good news releasing the captives from sin and death and the dominion of the evil one. We might not have the same authority that the Twelve had, but we have their message that they preached which is ours to pass on to others.

But the difference to notice between fans and followers is that follower follow Jesus on his terms their terms. We don’t get to tell Jesus how it will be. He is not there just to help us rule our little kingdoms but to calls us to give them up and belong to his. Today I want you to think about whether you are acting more like a fan of Jesus or a true follower of Jesus? A follower will be one who will take up his cross and deny himself. Jesus becomes Lord of all the stuff, while a fan just wants Jesus to take care of their stuff for them.

  1. The family

Not everyone responds to the gospel as they ought. We see this in the next story about the family of Jesus in verses 20 to 35. In verse 20 we are told that Jesus entered a house and again the crowd gathered around the house where Jesus was so that he and his disciples couldn’t eat. His family hear about this and they came to take charge of him.

  • They came to take charge of Jesus

The word “to take charge” was a strong one which probably meant that they had the intention of forcibly taking him home with them. The family didn’t know what to make of all that Jesus was doing and thought it was time for him to come sense and come home.

  • They thought he was out of his mind

At this point they don’t seem to be able to grasp his mission and either thought that “he was mad” or were letting others who were saying this influence them. Either way it demonstrated a profound lack of faith on their part in Jesus at this time. They believed that they needed to take charge of Jesus and take him home. But before we find out what happened Mark interrupts the story to tell us what the teachers of the law were saying about Jesus. These guys were not fans of Jesus and neither were they followers.

  1. The teachers of the law

These teachers of the law had come down from Jerusalem and it was quite possible that they were envoys of the Sanhedrin who would not have been happy about the crowds that were flocking to Jesus. They were there probably there to try and dampen down the enthusiasm of the crowd for Jesus.  Before we find out what happened with the family, Mark tells us what the teachers of the law were saying about Jesus.

Mark 3:22

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.”

  • They accuse Jesus of being in league with Satan

The teachers of the law were going around accusing Jesus of being in league with Satan. They said that he was possessed and that he was driving out demons by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons.

Beelzebub seems to have been another name for Satan and what the teachers of the law were saying was that Jesus was driving out demons not through the power of God, but by the power of Satan. Instead of acknowledging that God’s Spirit was at work they consciously and deliberately rejected the work that God was doing and assigned it to be the work of Satan. They were so stubborn and hard of heart that they accused Jesus of being league with Satan even though, as Jesus explained, this made no sense at all.

How can a kingdom stand if it is divided against itself? Jesus explained that Satan wasn’t fighting against himself, but Jesus was stronger than Satan and he had bound him and was now plundering his house releasing the captives and taking his possessions.

  • Jesus warns them

In verse 28 Jesus issues a solemn warning to the teachers of the law who said this about him.

Mark 3:28

28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

What this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit seems to be is the stubborn refusal to believe what God has done in His Son to save us. In the case of the teachers of the law they were attributing God’s work in Jesus to the work of Satan. This is the sin, which will never be forgiven for it ultimately amounts to refusing to believe in the only one who can you save you from your sin. People commit this sin when, despite what Jesus has done for them, they refuse the gospel of grace and prefer to remain in their unbelief. There can be no forgiveness for those who refuse the only way that forgiveness can be given.

  1. Who are my mother and my brothers?

In the last part of chapter 3 we come back to the story of Jesus family. When they arrive at the house where Jesus was, they can’t get in because of the crowd that were sitting around him. So a message is relayed to Jesus that his mother and brothers are outside looking for him. Jesus takes that opportunity to teach an important lesson and Mark places it here so that it might also be a lesson for us.

Jesus asked the question, ‘Who are my mother and brothers?” He wasn’t expecting an answer back. He asked this question so that he could answer it and make his point. Looking at those seated in the circle around him he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

  • His disciple were

I just want to spend a moment to look at what Jesus said. Firstly, looking probably at the Twelve he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! He firstly was saying that his disciples who had followed him were already truly members of his family and part of the kingdom of God.

  • We can be as well

But the other thing that he was also saying that we could all be members of his family too. He said, in the second part of his answer, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” He was restricting what he was saying just to the Twelve, but he was saying that if anyone does God’s will he or she can also his followers (disciples) and members of his family.

What is the will of God that is to be done?

It was to repent and believe in the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. In John chapter 6 and verse 40 Jesus said that his Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life. The will of God is for you is to believe in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and follow him, not on our terms, but on his terms. It is to stop being a fan who is merely hanging around Jesus and becoming one of his followers and a member of his family.

This is how fans become followers and members of Jesus’ family. This is how someone is forgiven for everything that they have every done. This how people get to enter the kingdom of God. We believe in the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and follow him.

  • We are to tell others that they can be

This is the message that he sends his followers out with to preach. We who are followers of Jesus are to preach the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God and we are to call people to repent and believe the good news. We have an obligation to tell others that they can be members of Jesus family too.

 

[1] See the “The Beatles in Australia Essay” https://maas.museum/the-beatles-in-australia-essay/

[2] https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/the-beatles-in-australia-50-years-on-how-four-days-changed-melbourne/news-story/5de26eafc62b02396670d7aaf9615f59

[3] Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture citation are taken from The Holy Bible: New International Version—Anglicised. (1984). (electronic edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

[4] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.