“they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:8).
The third and central section of the Gospel (Mark 3:7-6:29) sets forth the conquering Kingdom of God. The first section (Mark 1) ended with the crowds of Jews coming to Jesus for healing. The second section (Mark 2:1-3:6) ended with the Pharisees conspiring with the Herodians to destroy Jesus. These two elements, the crowds and the Herodians, form the bookends (A Mark 3:7-12; A’ 6:14-29) for the third section. The B and B’ parts involved the calling and sending of the twelve disciples. The C and C’ portions focus on Jesus’ identity. In both C and C’ there is response from His home (C family; C’ hometown). The center of the third section (D) displays the growing Kingdom of God.
The Conquering Kingdom
A The Jews (Mark 3:7-12)
B The Twelve (Mark 3:13-19)
C Warrior King (Mark 3:20-35)
D Conquering Kingdom (Mark 4:1-34)
C’ Warrior King (Mark 4:35-6:1-6)
B’ The Twelve (Mark 6:6-13)
A’ The Jews (Mark 6:14-29)
Satan’s approach never changes: seduction and attack. The A sections survey the battlefield. In A, Jesus withdrew because of the great crowds from Galilee and Judea. Even people from the far north Tyre and Sidon were coming for healing. The demons were stoking the crowds passionate misunderstanding by announcing that Jesus was the Son of God. The conflict between their expectations and His mission would have prematurely ended His ministry. In A’, Herod beheads the prophet, John. King Herod ruled over Galilee, and on his birthday celebrated with his military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. After a sordid dance by his daughter, he had John’s head cut off and brought on in on a platter. The bookends of battle with Satan were clear: seduction and martyrdom.
The B and B’ portions both refer to the twelve disciples’ mission to preach the Kingdom of God. As disciples sent by the King, they too had authority to cast out demons and heal the sick in the kingdom advance. For they were sent by the Warrior King C and C’. Both C and C’ focus on Jesus as the Warrior King:
1 Jesus’ Mind (Mark 3:20-21)
2 Warrior King (Mark 3:22-30)
3 Family (Mark 3:31-35)
1’ Jesus’ Mind (Mark 4:35-41)
2’ Warrior King (Mark 5:1-43)
3’ Home (Mark 6:1-6)
As the crowds pressed on Jesus and his disciples to the point to where they were unable to eat, his family came for Him. They said Jesus was out of control, out of his mind. This segues into the accusation that He is actually a possessed tool of Satan. Jesus responds that a kingdom divided against itself is self-destructive. Rather, Jesus is the strong man who plunders Satan’s kingdom. When Jesus’ mother and brothers arrive, Jesus says His family are those who obey God. Jesus has not lost his senses; He is firmly on mission to plunder Satan’s kingdom. As the Second Adam, He brings the Kingdom of God, redeeming sinners and casting out the unclean spirits. As Adam was to multiply and fill the earth with the righteous royal family of God, so the result of the Second Adam’s work is His family characterized by obedience to God.
The C’ piece restates this same identity. It starts with the disciples questioning the state of Jesus’ mind when he sleeps through the storm that swamps their boat. They say, “do You not care that we are perishing” (Mark 4:38)? They think the issue is that the boat is filling with water as He is asleep on a cushion. But the question Mark is highlighting is, “Does the Second Adam care that the disciples are perishing in sin and death?” But He is on mission. He rules over creation as Adam failed to rule. Jesus got up and rebuked the storm, and it obeyed and became perfectly still! Then Jesus rebukes them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith” (Mark 4:40)? Then they really were afraid! Who is this One the wind and waves obey? He is the faithful Adam given dominion over the earth.
This Second Adam casts the serpent out, and raises the dead to everlasting life in the Kingdom. He is the Adam who fights against the enemy of God. The narrative immediately moves to the Gerasene demoniac who could not be shackled and screamed among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he bowed down before Him and called Him, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” The man was possessed by a Legion of unclean spirits. A Roman legion consisted of over 5,000 infantrymen. Jesus ordered them to leave the man, and permitted them to go into the swine. The delivered man was then clothed and in his right mind. The towns people were now afraid of Jesus! He is the Warrior greater than the legion of demons! He has come to undo what Satan had done with the first Adam.
Jesus is then implored to heal Jairus’ daughter who was about to die. While Jesus is on the way, a woman who had seen all the doctors with no success pressed through the crowd of people to touch the garment of Jesus for healing. But when she touched Him, while the crowd of people was pressing against Him, He felt her touch and His power healing the woman! He knew who it was, but He calls her out. She fell down before Him, and He said “Daughter, your faith has saved you” (Mark 5:34; trans. sózó). He did not allow her only to be healed; she would be saved. But when this woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years touched Jesus, her issue of blood made Jesus unclean (Lev 15:25).
While he was still speaking peace to the woman, Jesus heard Jairus’ daughter had died. Jesus went with several disciples to the house where the paid mourners started laughing when Jesus said she wasn’t dead. Jesus went into the room and took the deceased child’s hand and told her to rise! Immediately, the twelve-year-old daughter obeyed the King and got up and walked. And they were overcome with great amazement.
Jesus was made unclean by the touch of the woman who had hemorrhaged twelve years, and he was made unclean when he touched the twelve-year-old dead daughter (Num 19:11-12). He took their unclean condition that they would be clean and live. His shed blood gave them new life. He was more than Adam; He was the Adam who would bear Adam’s curse to give Kingdom life. But even his hometown did not believe, even his relatives and own household (Mark 6:1-6).
Climatically, the D piece (Mark 4:1-34) is found in the center of this third section. A and A’ have set the field of battle, the crowds and Herodians. B and B’ recount the King’s calling the twelve to proclaim the Kingdom. C and C’ display Jesus as the mighty Warrior King of the Kingdom. D climaxes with the victory of His Kingdom conquest. Jesus explains the Kingdom conquest in parables. As the disciples go forth proclaiming the Kingdom of God, they would see various responses. Some would immediately reject the message. Others would seem to immediately receive it with joy, but persecution would cause them to fall away. Others would receive the word, but the cares and seductions of the world would choke it out. But there would be those hearers who would receive the message and it would bear great fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold!
Though it didn’t seem like it when Jesus’ was speaking, misunderstood by the crowds and an enigma to the Pharisees and Herodians, there would be a day when Jesus’ true identity would be clear. Jesus asks,
“A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? 22 For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:21-23).
There is a day coming when the light of the world, the Lord Christ Jesus, will be seen in His glorious Kingdom. In that the presence of His Glory, all secrets will be revealed. He then warns the hearers,
“Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. 25 For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him” (Mark 4:24-25).
In that final judgment, the measure one has lived by will be the measure by which one is judged. He is not proposing a spectrum of measures, but contrasting the measure of judgment that comes in one’s own legal righteousness in contrast to the measure of judgment that is found in Christ. Those who are measured by their own righteousness, even what they have will be stripped from them. But those who have received the Gospel seed sown that bears fruit in the Kingdom by grace, more will be given!
Jesus continues by likening the Kingdom of God to the seed a farmer sows. While he sleeps at night, the seed grows to a mature crop even though he doesn’t know how. And then the harvest comes (Mark 4;26-29). The seemingly insignificant seeds of the Kingdom will grow like the little mustard seed into a large tree with large branches for birds and shade (Mark 4:30-32). The King and the Kingdom conquest will be victorious!
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from NASB. Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
trans. indicates my translation
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