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TEXT: Mark 3:7-35

SUBJECT: Mark #6: The New Israel

The Gospel of Mark is about the Kingdom of Heaven. Foreseen by the Old Testament prophets and announced by John the Baptist, it was ushered in by our Lord Jesus Christ, who offers a place in that kingdom to everyone who wants it. To get in, He says, all you've got to do is repent and believe the Gospel.

To repent means to change your mind; to stop living for yourself and by the advice of other people, start living for God, and submit your life to His rule. In this world our repentance is never what it ought to be; it could always be deeper and more consistent and with fewer blind-spots, but the King is so kind He accepts a repentance less than perfect. When you sin, He tells you, say you're sorry and try not to do it again. If you do it again, say you're sorry again, and try not to do it again--again. No one is more patient than He, but don't take the King for a fool. You can have no part in His Kingdom unless you do what He says.

Which you will do-if and as long as you believe the Gospel. Its promises are so wonderful they make every rival look bad by comparison. In one of his books, John Piper poses the solemn question: How do you get a man who is hooked on pornography off it? The usual answers have part of the truth: you install a web filter on his computer, you keep him away from book stores and magazine racks, you put him into an accountability group, get him into counseling, warn him of the consequences; if these things fail, put him on Prozac. What's missing in these (mostly) good ideas, is what he needs most: he needs an alternative-he needs something better.

This is what the Gospel is! It is something better than dirty pictures, and better than its more innocent rivals as well. It's better than money or career or prestige or control or reputation or pleasure; it's even better than 'being cool'.

When you see the truth of the Gospel and feel its power and beauty and Divinity, you will become an eager and thankful follower of Jesus Christ. You'll enter the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and you'll stay in until-

Heaven and earth are one.

From beginning to end, the Gospel of Mark is about the Kingdom of Heaven. Now and then, our Lord tells us about the Kingdom-the parables of Chapter 4 being the best example. But, most of the time, He doesn't tell us about the Kingdom, at all, He shows it to us, not in all its fullness, but enough of it to make us want to have a part in it.

This is what He's doing in today's text, Mark 3:7ff.


The story begins with our Lord and the disciples leaving the synagogue in Capernaum. This was their home church, and quitting it must have been painful to them, but leave they must, because its leaders had turned a deaf ear to the Gospel and were plotting with King Herod's party to put the True King to death.

The King is willing to die, but only when God wants Him to, and not at the say-so of the Pharisees. Without fanfare, He and His friends leave town, hoping to find a quiet spot on the Sea of Galilee.

Their hopes are not met. Amazed by His compassion and power to heal, the whole town goes with Him-and not just the town, but-

A great multitude of people from Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem, Idumea and beyond the Jordan; and from Tyre and Sidon.

Both the places named and the people surprise. They came from a radius of more than one-hundred miles; to us that's not very far, but remember, most of them came on foot, and this is more than a tiring walk, it is also a costly one; poor men had to take several days off work to see the Lord, and that's just what they did. For a few days, at least, they, like Job-

Esteemed the words of His mouth,

More than their necessary food.

If the places are far apart, the people are too, only more so. The men from Jerusalem and Judea were the 'real Jews' to whom all others were suspect. But Jews came from Galilee as well. And the Idumeans. Ethnically, they were Gentiles, though some years before they had formally converted to Judaism-but nobody took them seriously. And, 'from beyond the Jordan'. These were Jews who lived in pagan cities and often blended in only too well. If they weren't bad enough, Mark adds, 'And from Tyre and Sidon'. These are non-Jews; pagans, idolaters, whose ancestors had persecuted Israel, and given them their worst queen, Jezebel, who brought Baal and witchcraft to the people of God.

The first followers of Jesus are a mixed multitude, like the people who came out of Egypt with Moses. The first raft of them had corrupted Israel long ago, but the ones in our Lord's day would not do that; they would enrich the People of God because, under the New Covenant, they, too, would-

Know the Lord, from the least of them to the greatest, for He would forgive their sins.

The Kingdom is being gathered, and the people who get in first are not the sort approved of by the Scribes and Pharisees. Our Lord does not care! He's about His Father's business, and this means bringing back the ragged exiles of Israel and becoming a Light to the Gentiles.

In most ways, members of the Kingdom are as different as they can be. But on two points, we all meet: we are sinners and we are loyal to Christ. Near the end of his life, John Newton spoke for us all-

I am sure of two things: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.

This unlikely gathering of Jews, half-Jews, fake Jews, and non-Jews connects to some things both before and later.

It goes back to the Tower of Babel, where languages were confused and the human race was split up into tribes and nations. The was the punishment of God on the world for its pride. But the curse was not permanent; someday and somehow God would remove it, and bring all peoples back together and make them One People-His People. This is one of the first installments in that plan.

It also points back to the promises made to Abraham, in whom-

All the families of the earth would be blessed.

Outside of Israel, those blessings were mighty hard to find. Of course, the Lord blessed the nations physically, but apart from a Ruth here and a Rahab there, the spiritual blessings were few and far between. Until now. Jesus is beginning to fulfill the Promise He made to Abraham all those years ago.

It also points back to Israel's best king (so far), David. When he fled from Saul, he took four hundred men with him, and what kind of men were they? People running from the Law, from their creditors, and from their past. Some of the best men he had were Gentiles, including Uriah the Hittite and Ittai the Gittite (who might have been one of Goliath's friends!) If David gathers lowlifes, losers, maniacs, and criminals, why would you expect his Son to recruit His People from the Society Pages?

Naturally, this gathering of God's People makes us think of the return from exile in the days of Zerubbabel, Joshua the High Priest, Nehemiah, Ezra, and the others. If you read the number who went into Babylon and compare it to the number who came back seventy years later, you'll see the Exile never ended. Five hundred years after its official end, it was still in effect. Till Jesus came.

If it pointed back to these things, it also points forward; first to Pentecost when Jews from 19 countries were saved on one day; it points to the revival in Samaria, where the whole town turned to the Lord; to the household of Cornelius, where the Spirit fell on Gentiles as He had on the Jews; to Paul's mission to the Gentiles; to the global church of today; and to the Church Triumphant in heaven, made up of-

A multitude no man can number

Out of every nation, kindred, tribe,

And tongue.

The Kingdom is being gathered; the living stones to make up God's Temple are being collected; the flock, long scattered by lazy and cruel shepherds is being rounded up.


What sort of Kingdom is it going to be? Our Lord leaves no doubt. After spending the day healing the sick and ridding them of unclean spirit, He sneaked off to a mountain with His friends, and there He-

Appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and that they might have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons.

These are the Apostles, and three things need to be said about them: First, our Lord made them. The word, 'Appoint' means 'made' or 'created'. In the Greek Old Testament, it's the same word as used in Genesis 1:1-

God created the heavens and the earth.

Secondly, He created them to do the same things He was doing. They were to continue His work, as if He wouldn't always be there to do it Himself. He has already hinted at this, and later, He will spell it out, though it won't sink in until after the fact.

Most importantly, He chose-not ten men or fifteen-but twelve. That was a magic number in the mind of every Jew. It reminded him of the Twelve Sons of Jacob and the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

The mere number twelve, without a word to explain it, means, the sort of Kingdom Jesus is gathering to Himself is going to be.the New Israel. What the old nation failed to do, because they lacked forgiveness, new hearts, and the Holy Spirit, the new nation would succeed in doing. In the words of Peter, borrowing from Moses, we will be-

A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that we should show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

Because of its unbelief and self-righteousness, Old Israel failed to shine the light of God's holiness and love into the world. In fact, they did just the opposite: They caused the Gentiles to blaspheme! Not to blame Israel for forsaking the Lord, but to laugh and mock at God because of the way His people conducted themselves.

No more of that! The New Israel will be pardoned and renewed and filled with God's Spirit. And all-

To the praise of the glory of His grace.


For centuries, the Jews had been praying, Thy Kingdom Come, and none more fervently than the scribes and Pharisees. You would think, therefore, they would be first in line when it came. Of course, they were not. Because they wanted a different kind of kingdom, a kingdom that recognized their accomplishments and excluded people who didn't live up to their standards. A kingdom of victory is what they wanted, not suffering, led by a Messiah who would hate and destroy the Gentiles instead of loving and saving them.

When occurred to them that Jesus was the wrong sort of King offering the wrong kind of kingdom, they did everything the could to make His mission fail. Earlier, they had plotted to kill Him, but that ran the risk of getting them in trouble with the law, so why not take a safer course?

Instead of killing His body, they tried to murder His reputation. Seeing the devils routed right and left at His Word, they came up with the 'brilliant' idea of saying He was doing it-

By Beelzebub, the ruler of demons.

Instead of saying, 'Am not', He turns it around on them: Why would the devil cast out devils? If he does that, he will overthrow his own kingdom, and if there's one thing Satan has no interest in doing, it is losing power. The charge is pure nonsense.

But He doesn't leave it there. He explains why the devils are running for their lives and people who used to be in their control are now submitting to God-

No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

The reason Satan is losing his people at an unheard of rate is because Jesus has broken into his house, tied him up, and is robbing him blind. Or, to be more precise: Jesus is taking back the people Satan first stole from Him.

This is not debatable. The dullest minds in Israel know what's happening and why. Though their vision is narrower than ours, they have seen enough to know, the kingdom of hell is being wrecked by the Kingdom of Heaven, and the one swinging the wrecking ball is Jesus.

To say He is doing it, through-

An unclean spirit,

.is to be willfully blind. And, as long as a man refuses to see the light that is shining all around him, he cannot be forgiven, and has to be-

Subject to eternal condemnation.

The Kingdom is coming, but not without resistance; the devils are fighting it tooth and nail, and so are Scribes.

I wish devils and scribes were the only names on the list, but-alas-they're not. Some others are also trying to hold Jesus down, and it breaks my heart to tell you whom, v.21-

When His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, 'He is out of His mind'.

'His own people' sounds rather general to us; some Bibles say His 'friends'. They may be there too, but the word means, His family. Back in Nazareth, they hear what He's up to, and head off to get him. They show up at the end of the chapter, and then we know who they are, His-

His mother and His brothers.

His brothers, at the time, did not believe in Him, but His mother did. Yet even she thought He was mad and tried to stop His work. Mary was not the last Christian to side with the devil in opposing Christ. Peter did the same thing a bit later, and there is no believer in this room who hasn't done the same thing himself!

We don't understand His ways or we don't approve of them or we think our ways are wiser than His, and so, maybe without meaning to, we fight against the Lord.

The Kingdom of Heaven was opposed back in the day, and it still is-by demons, by human enemies, and sometimes, by its own members as they forsake wisdom and obedience for folly and self-will.


Hindered by His enemies, and grieved by His family, our Lord soldiered on. The Kingdom must come-even if Mary and her other sons are against it.

At the end of Chapter 3, our Lord horrified everyone who heard Him. The Kingdom of God is so great, and its coming is so urgent, that it trumps everything, including family. In fact, it does more than trump the family, it redefines it. It was blood that linked our Lord to Mary and His brothers, and the Tribe of Judah, and the nation of Israel, but from now on, the Family of God will be joined together by faith in Christ and obedience to the Father.

These are the ties that bind us together: not blood, not law, not shared experience, but loyalty to God and His Son.

When Jesus called Himself, Lord of the Sabbath, He was claiming to be God, and now, He's doing it again, for nothing was more sacred to Israel than the family, the tribe, and the nation. And now, all of a sudden, our Lord said, faith in Me is more sacred than them all.


The Kingdom of Heaven is gathered by Christ Himself, first on earth, and then-and still-in heaven. He is the King, but He rules us through His Cabinet, the Apostles, who wrote or supervised the writing of the New Testament, and showed us how to interpret the Old. The Kingdom is bitterly opposed by the devil and people who work for him, but resistance is futile, the victory belongs to Christ and the ones who receive Him, who were born--

Not of bloods,

Nor of the will of the flesh,

Nor of the will of man,

But of God.

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