David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, recently went on the Charlie Rose Show to promote his new book that deals with character and sin. After the show, he received an email from an editor in New York who wrote, “I loved the way you were talking about your book, but I didn’t like the way you used that word sin. It’s a downer. Use the word insensitive instead.” Sadly, this is the world we live in today. We have gone from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to “Your Best Life Now.” Sin and judgment are dirty words.
The Gospel of Mark is different from the other gospel accounts in that it is the briefest gospel we have. It is fast paced with sharp cuts from one scene to the next. This is especially evident in Mark 3.
“Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 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. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, 'You are the Son of God.' And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.” (Mark 3:7-12)
The chapter begins with a healing story that is also a controversy story. It is about Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath. The story that follows our text is about Jesus choosing the twelve apostles, and right in the middle is the story we just read. At first glance, it does not seem that interesting. One may think it is a segue from one important story to another, but Mark is very purposeful about what he gives us. Everything that was given to us was given to us for a reason.