Mark 3: 7 – 19 Crowds follow Jesus and Jesus appoints the Twelve
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. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pressing forward to touch him. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.
Jesus appoints the Twelve
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘sons of thunder’), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
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The ministry of Jesus was phenomenal. People were coming from miles around to hear him, and to be healed. Mark says they were coming from places which were up to 100 miles from Galilee. And that was walking. It would have taken a week to walk to Galilee and back from some of these places.
So many people came and pressed forward for a healing touch from Jesus, that he told his disciples to keep a small boat ready to keep the people from crowding him.
Having established this thriving ministry, Jesus seems to have withdrawn for a short period. Mark says that “Jesus went up on a mountainside”. Although Mark doesn’t say so here, it was typical of Jesus to withdraw to a lonely place when he needed to pray. I think this is the case here because the withdrawal comes immediately before the very important and significant act of choosing those who are to receive authority to act in Jesus’ name; the Twelve.
Jesus’ need to pray for guidance has lessons for us.
The first is that it affirms his humanity. During his earthly life, Jesus was fully human; he could only know what God wanted him to do through prayer. How wonderful that he could accomplish all he did as a human being like us!
The second is that just as Jesus needed prayer, so do we. If we are to do God’s will effectively, we must learn to listen to him.
The third lesson is that sometimes we need to withdraw from others, just like Jesus did. There is a time and a place for everything. Often, we are needed to be busy about God’s work, but sometimes we are called to be still and listen.
Thank you for the life and example of Jesus. Please help us to listen to the quiet voice of your Holy Spirit. Please help us to be obedient.
In Jesus’ name, Amen