Today we will consider the second leadership key from Mark 3:1-15. (Click here to go to Part 1).
2. Jesus knew when to face His enemies and when to avoid them. (v. 5-7)
The setting was the synagogue in Capernaum. It was a Sabbath day. There was a crippled man there and the Pharisees were “watching” Him to see if He would heal the man on the Sabbath. They were looking for grounds to accuse Jesus of being a lawbreaker or blasphemer.
The passage says that Jesus was deeply grieved at their hardness of heart. The Pharisees were so committed to their rules and traditions that they had become insensitive to human need and suffering. Mark tells us that Jesus was angry at these religious leaders.
He could have avoided the conflict and the added opposition…by simply waiting until the following day to address the disabled man’s needs. But He didn’t. Jesus, the true Shepherd of the sheep, was moved with compassion for the sufferer and was NOT going to back down from the hard-hearted false shepherds. So He healed the man and immediately made things even more difficult for Himself.
One of the characteristics of false shepherds is that they use people to promote their own ministries and reputations. But the true Shepherd uses His ministry to build up and serve the people – even if at great expense to Himself.
Jesus was definitely willing to stand up to His enemies. But He also knew when to avoid conflict and to even flee from it. Our text reveals that as a result of the healing of the crippled man that the Pharisees began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him (v.6). The next verse shows how Jesus faced each situation with wisdom:
“Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples…” (v.7)
Jesus left town before the riot could be started. Several times in the accounts of Jesus’ ministry we see Him slipping away from difficult situations. He didn’t back down from His opponents – but He chose which battles to fight and which ones to avoid!
He didn’t fight to preserve His reputation in the eyes of men or to win the acceptance of those with self-serving agendas . But He was willing to face opposition for compassion’s sake, that is, for the sake of suffering people.
More next time.