Lesson 44—December 7, 2014
Pearl Harbor Day
Who Really is This Jesus?
To gain a better understanding of Jesus’ ministry of good while evil is being plotted against Him.
In the sixth verse of Mark chapter 3, we learned “Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.” Just a bit earlier, Jesus had posed a question to the same Pharisees, because of their keen eyes to accuse Him of doing wrong on the Sabbath. Jesus’ question to them had been: “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” They did not answer the question, “but they kept silent.” As they sat in silence watching Jesus, “the silence weighed heavily upon the congregation as Jesus let them stew in their own juices” (Hobbs).
As we begin today’s lesson, I call your attention again to the question asked by Jesus to those Pharisees. Notice the similarity between the Pharisees’ actions of verse seven and Jesus’ question of verse four.
On the Sabbath, Jesus did only good. But the Pharisees, blinded by their own agenda, would not answer Jesus’ question. They were doing the very thing they accused Jesus of—doing evil on the Sabbath. This Sabbath, they would begin to put into full motion the plot to take Jesus’ life.
They were willing to take whatever measures necessary to “destroy Him,” even if it meant forming a coalition with their enemies “the Herodians.” The Pharisees were willing to put aside their political differences with the Herodians in order to stop Jesus.
This healing of the man with the withered hand took place in Galilee, the domain of Herod Antipas. Remember that name. You will see it again. The Herodians were political cronies with Herod Antipas, so no doubt they had political influence with him. For the Pharisees, the political influence of the Herodians would prove very valuable, should a trial or a future day at court come about. The Herodians were glad to assist the Pharisees, for they too understood where this was headed. They also witnessed the growing popularity of Jesus among the masses, as well as the underlying sentiments that seemed to be becoming more prevalent. It was becoming more clear that Jesus was making claims for Himself which could only be made by the Messiah. What was most disturbing for the Herodians and Pharisees was that the people were listening and responding to Jesus.
Jesus must be stopped! From that day forward (verse 6), one thing took complete precedence in the minds of the Pharisees and Herodians—Jesus must be destroyed! He must be done away with! The line had been crossed. No turning back now. No matter what means it took,
Jesus must be stopped!
(V7) As the plot to kill Jesus began to unfold, He “withdrew with His disciples to the sea.”
• Why did Jesus withdraw with His disciples rather than confront His opposition? Please answer prayerfully and thoughtfully.
Even though Jesus had withdrawn from the multitudes, they soon followed Him.
(Vs7b & 8a) “And a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and beyond the Jordan and those from Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they heard many things He was doing, came to Him.”
The geography of those who came represents not only Israel but also the nations that bordered Israel. The message and ministry was being heard and talked about for miles. Multitudes gathered to hear Him speak and to see His miracles. Those watching Jesus saw the growing crowds as threatening. Some would later use the fact of such great crowds to accuse Jesus of being a revolutionist against the Roman government.
(V9) As the crowds continued to grow, “Jesus took some very practical precautions like having a boat standing by to use if a strategic withdrawal was needed” (Barton).
• Even though Jesus could have safely withdrawn using any measure He chose, He asked very practically for a boat to be made ready. What does this say to us about using practical commonsense wisdom in our own lives?
• How is this simple but valuable truth important to you as you make decisions in your life?
(V10) As the crowds continued, Jesus healed, “For He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him.” The crowds were so great that there was a risk of Jesus being crushed. Many genuinely sought His help and aid, and many found their last hope in Him.
• Today, do you need the help and aid of Jesus Christ in your life?
• Is there a specific need or area of your life where you need Jesus’ help?
As you study in the privacy of your home or some other solitary place, or as you study together under the leadership of your Life Focus teacher, is there any area of your life that finds hope is almost gone? You have exhausted your resources, but to no avail. Right now, wherever you are, will you ask Jesus to help you? If you are a lonely widow who desperately misses the love of your life who has passed on, if you are going through the heartache of divorce, if you feel betrayed or used, if disease has invaded what was once a healthy body, if it seems that you have no place to turn, today my friend, do what so many others have done— turn to Jesus. Do not be afraid to bring your hurts, pains, confusion, and doubts to Jesus.
Hear the words of Jesus Himself: “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Why did the crowds come to Jesus? Some came just because they were curious; some came because they wanted to be awed by the miraculous; some came simply because others came, but so many genuinely and honestly came to Jesus to find help and healing.
• Do you need the special touch of Jesus’ love in your life today?
Would you be willing to be honest with Jesus and simply say, “Jesus, I can’t do this on my own? I can’t handle this any longer. I need you. Jesus, help me”?
• What does it feel like when a person genuinely calls on Jesus for help? Please answer prayerfully from your own experiences of life.
(V11) Some came to Jesus with “unclean spirits” and “whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.”
The demons recognized who Jesus was. They feared Him. They truly knew His mighty power. But most importantly, they knew who He was and that He had authority over them.
(V12) Jesus did not want or need the endorsement of the demonic world. His identity would be made known without them revealing it.
• Who is this Jesus? Who is He to you?
On this seventh day of December, will you give thanks for this great nation? God truly has “shed His grace on thee.”
• What does Pearl Harbor Day mean to you and to this great nation?