Seeking the Blessing, but not the Blesser
Even today people seek the blessing over the Blesser.
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy.
– Isaiah 35:5–6
And Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the multitude, in order that they might not crowd Him; for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed about Him in order to touch Him.
– Mark 3:7–10
News of Jesus spread quickly throughout the land. Hundreds of years earlier, a Hebrew prophet wrote that with the coming of God’s promised Deliverer, the blind would see, the deaf would hear, the lame would leap like a deer, those who could not speak would shout for joy, and good news would be proclaimed! Some, whose hope was set on God’s promised Deliverer, were asking, “Is Jesus the One?” Many were not as concerned with who He was as with what He could do for them.
– The HOPE, Chapter 9
Observe & Consider
As Jesus traveled about the land teaching and doing miracles, the word about Him quickly spread. From Mark 3:7-10 we read that a great multitude from many different regions had heard what Jesus was doing and came to Him. But after further consideration of this verse, notice what is revealed about their motives.
They wanted something from Him. They came for healing, but Jesus wanted to teach them who He was. He did heal many, as the verse reads, but Jesus was not primarily interested in healing physical ailments. According to Bible teacher Ray Stedman, “He had a greater mission – to teach and preach the Word to them so as to heal the hurt of the heart and the spirit.”1 The crowd was making this very difficult because of their focus upon the physical. This is still happening today, as crowds clamor for the power, but not the person of Jesus. Anticipating this would happen, Jesus instructed His disciples to prepare for Him a way of escape. When the people pressed in to touch Him, making it impossible for Him to continue teaching, He would withdraw by boat. In Matthew 13:1-5, Mark 4:1 and Luke 5:3, we read that Jesus actually taught from a boat.
Notice what is actually taking place in this story. The people wanted something from Jesus: their physical healing. It wasn’t wrong for them to seek physical healing, but they made it such a priority, pressing in on Jesus, that they ultimately failed to get what they were after. They sought after the blessing more than the Blesser.
Ask & Reflect
- Do you imagine you would have been any different than the people who sought after Jesus for healing? Why or why not?
- Do you see any parallels between this story and the way people approach Jesus in our time? Explain.
- Read and meditate on the verses below. What do they say about those who would seek God and the gifts He gives?
Decide & Do
It is not wrong to seek help, healing or blessing from God. In Matthew 7:9-11 we read, “Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
As our heavenly Father, God loves to bless. In fact, He receives glory when He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The main question we should ask after today’s lesson isn’t whether or not it is good to seek blessing from God. The main question we should ask is whether we are seeking the blessing over the One who blesses.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
– Matthew 6:33
“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
– Psalm 37:4
1Ray Stedman, The Dimming of the Light, from his sermon series The Servant Who Rules. (© Ray Stedman Ministries, 2010). (http://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/mark/the-dimming-of-the-light). Retrieved August 2013.