Mark 3:7-19 7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
The popularity of Jesus continued to increase exponentially at the beginning of His public ministry. After all, everyone enjoys a good show, and Jesus was performing all kinds of miracles so that a great number of people had been healed. How could He do this? Rumours about Jesus must have spread like wildfire so that an increasing radius of towns and cities had heard about Him. But what was the message that they were hearing? How many understood the Gospel message at this point? None would have understood yet what it meant that Jesus would die for their sins. But there was an increasing number of followers who genuinely saw their need of repentance toward God and of faith in their Lord Jesus Christ. They saw Jesus as the only means of their salvation, although they did not yet fully comprehend what this meant.
It was at this point in Jesus’ ministry that He directly chose the men through whom the Church would be established and the false convert by whom His betrayal would be fulfilled. How different Jesus’ perspective would have been from all who surrounded Him. In spite of the fact that the demons recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God even they did not know what lay ahead at the cross. None but Jesus alone knew the ramifications of the decision He now undertook in choosing these twelve ordinary men. It was at this point that the stage had been set for what was to come. Only Jesus understood this.
How foolish the wisdom of man is compared to the wisdom of God. Mankind likes to think of himself as smart. We like to follow great men and many desire to be great themselves. But we are all fools compared to the wisdom of God. How often are we oblivious to what is actually transpiring in the events that surround us? How many really understand what is going on in the midst of this current pandemic? We are absolutely limited in ability to comprehend and understand what is going on around us. But not with Jesus Christ. He knows all and He knew as revealed by the Spirit of God, even as a man, what was in the heart of those who surrounded Him. He saw the heart of those in misery because of their sin and were being drawn to Him. He saw the joy in the heart of those whom He had healed but afterward had no interest in Him. He saw the wickedness of those Pharisees and Herodians who wanted to destroy Him. And He saw the entertainment seeking and half-hearted interest of most of those who followed Him. But in spite of all this, the message that He proclaimed was made to all. Equal opportunity was given to everyone to hear the Good News as His Words were authenticated by the signs that He performed proving that His is indeed the Son of God.
As Jesus appointed the twelve they were to be sent out ahead of Him to preach and to have the authority to cast out demons. In spite of the fact that they had not yet been baptized with the Holy Spirit as would happen years later after Jesus ascended up into heaven, they were given this ability. And even the false convert and betrayer among them, Judas Iscariot, was able to cast out demons. Mankind has a natural desire for power. And yet who is the only One that has true power?: only Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The only reason why the disciples had the ability to cast out demons was because they were sent out by Jesus. We are all utterly weak and hopeless apart from Jesus Christ. But even if we have any power from God, it does not reveal the condition of our own heart. For if this was true, Judas Iscariot never should have betrayed Jesus. And as we see further on in the book of Mark and elsewhere, the rest of the eleven were not yet in any place of spiritual maturity and yet they had received this power.
Things as they appear are often not as they are. This is why we must seek the Lord. No matter what situation you find yourself in, it is only Jesus Christ who knows the true condition of what surrounds you and the state of your own heart. Are you seeking Him? Even now, in the midst of the pandemic, are you drawing nearer to God or is it being revealed that you are farther from Him? Do you depend upon Him for your wisdom and power? Do you recognize Him as the Son of God? Do you know Jesus Christ personally or do you just pretend to know Him? Do you really love Jesus Christ with all your heart or do you actually hate Him? The Good News is open to all but where do you stand with Him? Is it He who you have been looking to after these many weeks of upheaval or have you found your own way?
There is great peace in resting in the knowledge and power of Jesus Christ if we are among the children of God. But there is reason for great fear if we are not His. If you know Him, rest in Him. He is the only One who really knows you and can and will raise you up for His glory! But if you do not know Him, one day it will be revealed who you really are. At the judgment seat of Christ it will be revealed to all who reject Him the wickedness of their hearts and they will be eternally condemned for it. For if we do not glorify our Creator, we deserve to be punished for this evil. But if we come to the cross of Jesus Christ, and in our desperate need cry out Him as the only means of salvation, He will save us! He will rescue us! He will make known to us that He is the Son of God! Thanks be to God for the wisdom and power of Jesus Christ!
Pastor Murray Hack