Introduction: Have you ever had a spiritual leader who had an
approach that did not fit your style? Did some new worship ideas make
you uncomfortable? Our lesson this week is about some of Jesus’
conduct which was quite puzzling. It made a lot of people angry. When
we get angry about the actions of our spiritual leaders, how can we
know who is truly doing God’s will? How can we know when we need to
speak out and when we need to just keep quiet? Let’s jump into our
study and see what answers we can find in the Bible!
- Sabbath Work
- Read Mark 3:1-2. What made the Jewish leaders think Jesus
might heal on the Sabbath?
- Read Mark 3:3. The Jewish leaders thought they might
“catch” Jesus in a sin – or at least in something others
would think to be a sin. How does Jesus react to that? (He
calls the shriveled hand guy up front and center so no one
can miss this!)
- Why would Jesus want to highlight something people
thought violated the Sabbath?
- Read Mark 3:4-5. Is Jesus teaching us anything about
anger? Remember, Jesus is in “church!”
- In the story of Jesus and the temple tax (Matthew
17:24-27), Jesus says “so that we may not offend
them” pay the temple tax from the money provided by
the fish. Jesus could have healed the shriveled hand
guy the next day. Why offend the Jewish leaders?
(Consider the logic of this situation. For Jesus to
be angry, He must have thought that the Jewish
leaders were missing an obvious principle of the
Kingdom of God. An obvious principle needs to be
- What is Jesus teaching us about observing the
Sabbath? What is the “obvious principle” that the
Jewish leaders are missing? (Doing good is consistent
- Is there anything in what Jesus said which would
cause you to believe that He did not believe in
Sabbath-keeping? (Jesus is clearly arguing what
should be the proper standard for Sabbath-keeping, not whether there should be any
- Why should Jesus be angry at those who wanted to err
on the “conservative” side? (When I was growing up in
religious schools, I endured all sorts of rules. It
never occurred to me that having all of these rules
might in itself be a sin. It seemed that only
violating the rules could be a sin. Only in recent
years have I begun to understand the Deuteronomy 4:2
principle: it is just as wrong to add rules God has
not required as it is to teach you can ignore the
rules which God has required. Both put you in the
position of usurping God.)
- Read Mark 3:6. Does this give us clearer insight into why
Jesus was angry? (Compare the question Jesus asked in Mark
3:4. Jesus hit the nail squarely on the head! The minds of
these Jewish leaders were so clouded by their own selfish
opinions that they were willing to plot, on the Sabbath
even, how they might kill a guy for the “sin” of healing
someone. He was healing. They were killing. The irony
could hardly be greater!)
- Pig Dunking
- Read Matthew 8:28-29. We could devote our entire time to
this bizarre little story. How do you think people become
demon possessed? How does this story suggest that a demon
possessed person can get help? (As far as this story
reveals, the individuals who were demon possessed were
incapable of asking for help. Coming into the presence of
God is the key.)
- Humans may not recognize Jesus as God, but what
evidence do we have that demons recognize Him and His
ultimate triumph over sin? (The demons acknowledge
Jesus as the “Son of God” and they recognize their
- How can this be? Jesus had not yet triumphed
over sin by His life, death and resurrection.
(Apparently, the “other team” was pretty
demoralized by Jesus’ appearance on earth.)
- Read Matthew 8:30-32. Our lesson is supposed to be about
Jesus’ puzzling conduct. I’ve got a question about the
demons’ puzzling conduct. Why would they do this?
- Why would Jesus allow this?
- Let’s answer an earlier question left unanswered.
What do we learn about how people become demon
possessed? (Demons cannot even go into pigs without
God’s permission. It seems obvious they cannot go
into us without our decision to let them in.)
- What is the goal of Satan for each one of us? (To
destroy us. Want proof of this? Look what happened to
these pigs! Destruction is the first rule of Satan’s
- Why were the demon-possessed men not destroyed
by the demons? Why didn’t the demons drown them?
(God’s Spirit was restraining the demons.)
- Has Jesus no respect for private property? Surely He
knew the nature of these demons! (Assuming that the
owners were Jewish, they knew that pigs were unclean
and should not be eaten. Leviticus 11:7-8. Barnes’
Notes says that Jews were forbidden by their own laws
to keep pigs even for the purpose of raising and
- If your business is built upon unjust
principles, are you at risk?
- Read Matthew 11:16-17. Jesus generally has good things to
say about children. Are these children put in a good or
bad light? (These are more like the young children I’m
used to seeing. They want others to do their bidding.)
- Should the “others” in the marketplace have danced or
- There is an old American saying, “He marched to the
beat of a different drummer.” Has this anything to do
with the children’s singing and flute playing?
- Read Matthew 11:18-19. What does this have to with the
children? (The children want the “others” to dance or
mourn in accord with the wishes of the children. Jesus
says that He and John the Baptist did not do what others
expected, the result was that they were called names.)
- Consider your pastor. Would this text apply to your
views on your pastor?
- According to this text, Jesus not only ate more food
and drank more wine (“drunkard”) than John the
Baptist (who was a Nazarite – and did not touch
grapes), He hung around with bad people. Is this by
itself proof that Jesus was doing the wrong things?
- If not, how can you know?
- Is your spiritual leader allowed to do just
anything? (The answer is found in the last part
of Matthew 11:19: “Wisdom is proved right by her
actions.” We should not judge based on the fact
that a religious leader does not do what we
would do. Instead, we need to look at the
results of the leader’s actions.)
- Does this support the old adage that the
“ends justify the means?” (No. Look again
at the illustration. “Children” (the
spiritually immature) expect the leader to
do what they want. Jesus is not endorsing
sin as a method of promoting the kingdom.
However, He is saying do not impose your
personal preferences on your leaders.
Contemporary praise and worship not what
you prefer? If it brings in the crowds to
hear the gospel, don’t complain.
Especially, don’t make false charges.)
- Friend, consider these stories. The healing of the
shriveled hand on Sabbath enraged the Jewish leaders. The
pig drowning enraged the local townspeople. Jesus’ dietary
habits drew criticism. If you are tempted to criticize
your spiritual leaders, ask God to increase your spiritual
understanding. Are you on the wrong side of God’s will?
Are you acting like a child – because the issue is not
really a spiritual matter? Maybe you are right or maybe
it was simply that your “pig” got drowned! Will you agree
today to ask for the leading of the Holy Spirit on these
kinds of questions?
- Next week: The Intensity of His Walk.