Grow Through The Gospels - Mark 3

Pastor Ed Young - Lead Pastor of Fellowship Church
Ed Young

July 1, 2024

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Grow Through The Gospels - Mark 3

Read: Mark 3

Mark 3:2-5 “Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.  Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’ Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” 

Think

What does a stubborn heart look like? A stubborn heart is like a stone, unresponsive to the needs and sufferings of others. It lacks tenderness and compassion. The Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 15:7-8 to not harden our hearts against a poor brother but to open our hands to him. Compassion isn't just for the poor; it also extends to the sick and disabled. In Mark 3, Jesus sees a man with a withered hand and challenges the crowd about doing good on the Sabbath. Their silence grieves Jesus, showing their hard hearts. A hard heart is unmoved by suffering and lacks empathy.

How does a hard heart hurt us? Jonathan Edwards, an 18th-century pastor and theologian, described a hardened heart as being unaffected and insensible. This unfeeling nature extends to our relationship with God. The Bible says a hard heart refuses to hear or respond to God. For example, Zedekiah's hardened heart led him to ignore God's call to repentance (2 Chronicles 36:13). Romans 2:4-5 warns that a hard heart stores up wrath because it is unresponsive to God's kindness, meant to lead us to repentance.

How do we avoid a hard heart in the first place? Avoiding a hard heart begins with being part of a healthy community of believers who encourage us daily. Hebrews 3:13 advises us to encourage one another every day to prevent being hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Sin lies, telling us that God's ways are not satisfying. These lies can harden our hearts if not countered by the truth. Being in a community that reminds us of God's worth and the deceitfulness of sin helps keep our hearts tender and responsive.

How can a hard heart be softened? Softening a hard heart is a miraculous work of God. Ezekiel 36:26-27 promises that God will give us a new heart and spirit, removing our heart of stone and replacing it with a tender heart of flesh. This transformation, akin to being born again, is a gift from God. Once we have a soft heart, staying in a supportive, godly community helps maintain it. Regular encouragement from fellow believers helps us recognize and resist sin's lies, keeping our hearts open and responsive to God's love and guidance.

Apply

Are there areas where you feel indifferent or unresponsive to God or to the needs of others? Ask God to reveal any hardness in your heart. Look for ways to serve others around you, join your serve team at church, and ask God to soften your heart.

Pray

Lord, reveal any areas where I have become hardened and indifferent. I confess that there are times when I have ignored the needs of others and turned a blind eye to suffering. Create in me a heart of compassion and fill me with your power so that people will see you through me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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