Called for Discipleship | Mark 3


How is your personal walk with the Lord Jesus Christ? Is Jesus the guest of your life or is he the decision maker of your life? Do you come to Jesus only when you have needs to be fulfilled or do you walk with him every day of your life as a disciple?

In Mark 1-2 Jesus burst upon his earthly ministry gathering much attention right from the beginning and the people were wondering who he was. We saw how Jesus exercised his authority over every physical and spiritual condition that man faced. Jesus then exercised his authority over the Sabbath when he healed a man on the Sabbath. Now Jesus was even eating and dining with tax collectors and sinners in Matthew’s house.

As we come to the close of Chapter 2 we find Jesus’ disciples as they were passing through the fields, began to pick some of the corn and eat on the Sabbath. Now this was not permitted on the Sabbath according to the OT laws. The scribes and the Pharisees began to question Jesus about what his disciples were doing. 

Mark 2:27-28

27Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” So in serving God it was okay to do right on the Sabbath.

The scribes were getting a little skeptical about Jesus. They had a religious system and had different sets of authority and laws but Jesus was not fitting into it. They were constantly asking one question: By what authority is Jesus doing all this?

As Chapter 3 begins, Jesus goes into the synagogue again. I think this is at Capernaum. He sees there on the Sabbath day a man who had a withered hand. It was crippled. It was totally useless to him. He could not carry on with daily activities of life as he needed to. They did not have all the systems today as we have everything with buttons and even wave your hands at the tap and the water flows.

Mark 3:2 

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.

Now they are looking to trap him. Their approach has moved from just questioning to trap him and accuse him. They were not saying anything, they were just watching Jesus. 

Mark 3:3 

Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

So he stepped forward there in the synagogue in front of all of them. Remember now the Pharisees have not said anything yet, it is just in their hearts. They are looking at Jesus so that they might find something to accuse him about. Jesus knew what was in their hearts. Jesus called the man and asked him to stand up in full view of them. Then turned to those who had criticism within their hearts and asked them a question-

Mark 3:4 

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.

Now Jesus gave them a choice, they had to answer yes or no.

What is lawful: to do good on the Sabbath day or evil on the Sabbath. Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to save life or to kill? If you read the text you will find that they did not answer because they knew that if they answered this question in any direction they were in trouble, and if they said it was lawful to do good, then the good things Jesus was doing on the Sabbath, they would be testifying to and approving of it. If they say it is not lawful to do good on the Sabbath, they are denying the very essence of God. God is good; there is no evil in him. So they did not answer Jesus.

Mark 3:5a 

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts….

Jesus became angry with them and was grieved and angered not because they did not answer him. Jesus was angered and grieved at their stubborn and hard heart. You see, Jesus has been showing various ways to show how he is to the Pharisees, but now their hearts are getting hardened towards him.

A hard heart is the heart that receives instruction after instruction but does not put those instructions into practice. Man’s problem is a heart problem, a heart that is hard because of sin and away from God.

Now, not healing this man would be doing evil for him when Jesus had the power to help him. 

Mark 3:5-6 

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. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, they went out of that synagogue and formed an alliance to kill Jesus.

That is an interesting alliance here – The Pharisees and the Herodians. The Herodians are followers and supporters of Herod. Herod was a proselyte (a new convert to Jewish faith). He was not born a Jew. The Herods were ruling the Jews with the help of the Romans. The Herodians were very wicked and the Jewish people hated them.

Now, here are some Herodians, who are welcomed into the group of the Pharisees. Now who are the Pharisees? The Pharisees are the orthodox Jews. They are defenders of the law. The Pharisees partnered with the Herodians because they hated Jesus.

Unholy Partnership

Don’t we see such unholy partnerships nowadays? Many times believers commit the same sin that the Pharisees committed. I have seen believers partner with nonbelievers when it comes to business. Sometimes there is partnership in marriage. I have seen so many believers marry with nonbelievers. Now here the Pharisees and the Herodians are partnering because they hated Jesus.

Have you ever wondered these days in our country why there is so much hostility towards the church and the believers? Every government is getting hostile towards church, disciples and our faith. When you are baptized or come to church, you face problems within your family. They are not happy with your change. They do not bother if people drink and lie on the road, but when it comes to your faith – the family, the government, everyone become against us.

This hatred is not because we are Christians. It is because this world hates Jesus.

 John 15:18-20

 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

So Jesus comes to a point in his ministry where the hostility becomes focused, there is hatred towards Jesus, his disciples and where the religious leaders are seeking an opportunity to destroy him.

See what did Jesus do? 

Mark 3:7 

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake…. 

Jesus withdrew with his disciples from the Pharisees. He gave enough chance to the Pharisees to know who he is. Jesus tried to show that he is the Messiah through his authority over human needs, then He also showed his authority over the demon world, then Jesus pointed his mission from the law but the Pharisees were hardened in their heart. Jesus quietly withdrew from them.

God gives people many chances to come to him but if you keep rejecting him, you will never know when it is going to be the last time you reject Jesus and he moves away from you.

Mark 3:7-8 

7Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon.

Now a large crowd is following Jesus. Jesus is in Galilee now, near Capernaum. Judea is a region to the south where Jerusalem is located. Further south of Israel is the place called Idumea which is near Egypt. Also this crowd is from the other side of the Jordan River. Then there are some from Tyre and Sidon. That is far to the northwest of Israel. So here are people all from all over the land of Israel. Jesus has attracted attention, so people have come in these vast multitudes from all over Israel.

On one side the Pharisees hate Jesus but on the other side Jesus is attracting the attention of the common man. Jesus fairly gives a chance for everyone to come to him and receive what he has to offer them. But when Jesus sees someone who is really thirsty for Jesus, he is willing to come to that person and spend more time.

Mark 3:10-11 

10For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”Jesus delivered many. Today if you have come here with that heart to receive something from Jesus, I believe you will receive your miracle today.

Mark 3:13 

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. Jesus left the scene there by the Sea of Galilee and there he went up into a mountain. Out of the huge crowd, Jesus called some to the mountaintop and they went with him.

Here is Jesus up in the mountain, the multitudes are down, but he has a small group of people with him. Jesus has not yet chosen the 12 disciples yet. You can see Jesus as he sits down perhaps on a rock and he looks out over that group of people and begins to call names. You find those names listed.

Mark 3:16-20

16These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 20Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.

Now understand Jesus’ focus and ministry here. Jesus called these 12 disciples and entered a house with them. He has ministered to basically 3 particular groups of people here to zero in on the disciples.

A. The compromising group.

The scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus was rejected by the elite, educated, and teachers of the law. They hated Jesus. Their hearts were hardened. They plotted to kill Jesus. Jesus left them.

B. The Crowd.

Jesus was accepted by the common man of Israel. They came from all over. Jesus ministered to them and healed them. But you see, the common man came just for their earthly blessings. They just wanted blessings and healing and then went back home.

C. The disciples.

Out of the crowd Jesus called a few to the mountaintop and out of that few Jesus selected his 12 disciples. Jesus ministered to so many but finally selected 12 disciples.

It makes me understand that even in the present day we have these three groups of people.

The first is the group of people who compromise with their Christian beliefs. They may come to church, they are born again but they align with the world. For them God is not a serious matter. They do not mind doing anything the world does.

The second is the crowd. They come for blessings and want to be served. They always have a need when they come to Jesus and When their needs are met they are not to be seen again. Fever, sickness they want Jesus, otherwise not.

The third is the disciples. Even the people who went to the mountain were many but Jesus chose only 12 and placed a special call upon them. Our goal should be to be in that small group of disciples, not to stay as a crowd. These 12 disciples spent more time with Jesus in the next 3 years than anybody else.

Now I am speaking to some today at City Harvest who have been called by the Lord. That is a wonderful thing. Jesus is not only interested when you worship him in the crowd, He wants you to be a disciple. Jesus said go into all the world and make disciples. He also tells us in the gospels that it is a narrow way, the way of discipleship and there are very few who find the way of discipleship. I am not talking about being born again; but rather about discipleship by born again people.

What Jesus calls disciples for

Mark 3:14

He appointed twelve that they might be with himand that he might send them out to preach.

1. Called to be with Jesus.

You cannot serve Jesus effectively unless you are with him. You must learn to walk with him, must spend time with him every day, must learn the sound of his voice as he speaks to you through his Word and You must also learn the sound of his voice as you spend time with him in prayer.

He has called you to be with him. I am talking to my friends already in ministry here and outside. If you have to be effective, you ought to spend time with Jesus.

Mark 3:14

He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.

2. Called to preach.

Disciples are called to preach. To preach means to proclaim the word. It is not just the preaching at the church. Rather, to say the good news of the gospel. It is to exercise the gifts that God has given you. It is only the disciples who witness about Jesus to others.

Mark 3:14-15

14He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15and to have authority to drive out demons.

3. Called to have authority.

Notice they were to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils. Jesus was going to empower them to do the very same kind of things that he was doing. So they receive their power from Jesus. The crowd does not have this power. It is only the disciples who get the power over the devil.

4. Called not based on our merits.

You must understand that they were not ordained to this particular ministry because they had earned that position and had impressed Jesus with their goodness that Jesus selected them. Obviously Judas is in the group and Jesus from the beginning knew what Judas would do to him. Who else is in this group? There is Peter. He was frequently getting into trouble. Jesus later had to rebuke Peter. There are others in this group. Take John for example. John was not a great orator as far as we know. John was a quiet sort of man. He was a man who was I think an introvert. He did not always speak like Peter but Jesus chose him. So this is a lesson for us today.

Jesus did not choose these disciples because of merit; Jesus chose them in spite of what they were. You are called because God in his sovereignty chose you. So we are not to be proud of ourselves. We are to recognize that Jesus is the one who counts here. He is the one who called. So today Jesus is calling today for disciples.


God is calling us for discipleship. This invitation is open for everyone here. Jesus is calling you for discipleship. Jesus wants your availability today.