Friends and Foes
St. Mark III.
"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.
"But as many as received Him, to them gave He power
to become the sons of God."
S there is not time to teach the whole chapter, it
seems best to omit vv. 21-31, as being rather difficult for young
children. In senior classes it may be briefly touched. Show their
obstinate determination to find evil in Christ, such as already appears
in Section I, and the bearing of this on His warning
about the unpardonable sin. Show that in Revised
Version the correct reading is given,
"guilty of an eternal sin," v. 29,
i.e., that the sin is rather
indomitable than impardonable, that the man
yielding to such sin, deliberately and persistently
rebelling against promptings of Holy Ghost within him,
is in danger of getting it so confirmed in him that it
will never cease, and therefore, can never be forgiven.
Ask, "Could any penitent be rejected for it?" No,
because no penitent could be guilty of it. His penitence
would show that he was not sinning against the Holy
It may be advisable not to read whole chapter at once
but section by section as indicated.
Be very careful to bring out the bright, happy view of
God's purpose in giving Sunday.
What was last Lesson about? Kingdom of God. Remind
children of Christ's ideal for His Church. Picture to
them a band of white-robed Knights of God passing
through the midst of this "naughty world" and making
all life beautiful and holy as they pass. That is
meaning of the Kingdom of God. Chapter to-day divides
naturally into sections.—(1) The Sabbath,
vv. 1-7. (2) Teaching and healing,
vv. 7-13. (3) The Twelve Apostles,
vv. 13-20. (4) The Sin against the Holy Ghost,
vv. 20-31. (5) Christ's Spiritual Brethren,
Read Section 1. This tells of the Pharisees' anger at our
Lord's notions about the Sabbath. Notice that last
section of previous chapter is on same subject, and
show (Matthew xii. 8, 49) that both occurred same day;
that Lord was walking to church at the time through the
cornfields. So they followed Him into church. What
for? To pray to be made loving, and kind, and good? See
v. 2. What wicked, spiteful men! Did not like Christ,
He was so real and true; hated sham, and cant, and
hypocrisy, and sternly rebuked them; they always
watched to find fault with Him. Was it right to be
careful about keeping Sabbath? Yes; but they were so
silly about it, and so spiteful. They forgot God's
loving purpose for it. What did they blame disciples
for in field? Rubbing corn in hand. How silly! They
would make Sabbath a torment. Did God give Sabbath to
be a torment to people? What does Lord answer? ii. 27.
Made for man, i.e., for man's blessing and happiness.
Does God like to see happy faces on Sunday? Like to see
us out in fresh air enjoying this beautiful world? Yes,
we are His children, and He made Sunday for our
happiness, and recreation, and rest. No Latin, or sums,
or hard school-lessons to-day for boys
and girls. No
work for tired men and women. What an awful
world if no Sundays! God says to us every Saturday
night, "Come ye apart and rest awhile. I want you to
rest and be happy." "This is the day that the Lord
hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it." Is it not
good of our Father in Heaven? What a shame to make it
But we have another part of us besides bodies? Souls.
And God, who wants us to be happy, knows that a good,
noble, beautiful life will best make us so. He says,
"If my children only think of rest and amusement, they
may forget about goodness and about my love for them,
and so lose their highest happiness. The busy men and
women may forget Me in the hurry of their work, so I
want to remind them about Me every Sunday, and keep
them near to Me." Emphasize the two sides. (1) The
rest and recreation for the body. (2) Helps and
reminders for the soul. And all for the purpose of our
good, to make us happy, and holy, and loving to God and
Now the Pharisees forgot the happy meaning of Sabbath.
Thought of as of a taskmaster's order to his
slaves.—"Don't do this, don't do that on Sabbath, or else I will
punish you." Our Lord was vexed at the way they were
spoiling God's beautiful gift, and so He often, in order
to teach them, intentionally broke through their silly
rules—intentionally worked miracles on Sabbath—broke
the Sabbath, they would say. This angered them greatly.
Now return to story of this disturbance in synagogue.
How began? What ailed man? One of the old, lost Gospels
says he was a stone-mason, and had told the Lord that he
could not earn bread for his family. Picture—village
church—man on seat—arm hanging dead—his eager eyes
fixed on Jesus. Jesus' pitying eyes on him. Suddenly He
speaks out—what? Now see the Pharisees whispering and
watching. Oh, this wicked Sabbath-breaker! going to
heal a man on Sabbath! Hear them call out to stop Him.
"Is it lawful to heal," etc. (Matthew xii. 10). His
reply (Mark lii. 4). Is it best on Sabbath to do good,
as I am doing, or harm, as you wicked, spiteful people
are doing? What did they say? (v. 4). How did He feel
about it? (v. 5). Angry. Is not anger wrong? No it is
right to be very angry with sin, with spite, and
bigotry, and hypocrisy.
It was right to be angry with teachers who were turning
people against the loving Father, and spoiling His
blessed Sabbath gift. Our Lord often angry with such.
But was it vicious anger against the men, that would
make Him like to hurt them? See next word "Grieved
at," etc. That is the right anger, to love God so
greatly as to be angry with all sin, yet grieved and
sorrowful for the sake of the sinner. All this time the
poor man waiting with his dead arm by his side. What
next? Could he stretch it forth? Was it not dead?
Yes; but when Christ told him, the poor fellow tried to
do it, and with the effort to obey came the power. So
with us—weak, powerless—can't love God; can't conquer
sin, can't be truly faithful. But let us say, "Lord, I
can't love you much; I can't serve you as I should; I
can't be good as I ought; but, Lord, I'll try!" and with
the effort to obey will come the power.
Do you think the poor stone-mason was glad? And the
people? And the Lord? Were the Pharisees? What do? Went
out to make plans against Him, and so went on and on in
this wicked spitefulness till they brought the Lord at
last to the Cross on Calvary.
If not time, next section (vv. 7-13) may be dismissed
with a few questions, so as to give more time for
following section (vv. 13-20). Read section. What
about? Calling the twelve Apostles together. Had He
not called them already in forming first ranks of His
Kingdom of God? Lesson II.—Yes; but He was then only
calling recruits—rank and file. Now wanted chief
officers of His Kingdom to guide and rule it after He
was gone. Very solemn task. See how He prepared for it
(Luke vi. 12, 13). Think of Him going out alone in the
late evening, and walking up that lonely mountain. He
could not be happy without prayer, and enjoying the
presence of His Father. There all the long, dark night
He was in His deep prayer—in His great happiness. And
then in the early morning the disciples come crowding
after Him, and many of the people of the place. So He
looked on the little band who had so willingly come to
Him, the beginning of His Kingdom of God on earth. He
loved them all. But all not fit to guide and rule. So
He who knew all hearts picked out the right men. They
were the first rulers of His earthly Kingdom—the first
bishops of the Church. They afterwards ordained other
men to preach and teach as the Church grew bigger, and
placed some as leaders and bishops, to take their own
places when they were gone; and so down through all the
ages comes the line of the bishops and clergy of the
Church, the first of the line being appointed by the
How many? Name them? What did he purpose for them?
(v. 4). That they might be
with Him in his own immediate
company. What a blessed position! Beautiful thought.
He wants His teachers to be in close company with
Himself—the clergy and Sunday School teachers to be
much in communion with Him, and then go out to tell
others about Him. What their chief work? To preach. In
some things they were very different? Some fishers—others not.
One collected taxes. One, Simon the
Zealot, opposed the taxes. Peter—bold, fiery,
impetuous. Thomas—desponding and doubting. Nathanael so
simple and guileless. John so deeply affectionate, etc.,
But in one thing all were alike. What? All loved the
Lord, and wanted to please Him.
LESSON I.—Boys and girls very different in manner and
disposition—illustrate from class. Do these differences
make you unfit to be Christ's disciples? What is the
one thing in which all His disciples are alike? All
love the Lord, and want to please Him. What does He
call them at the close of this chapter? (v. 35).
LESSON II.—He first calls members into the rank and
file of His Kingdom—to be His disciples—to love Him,
and want to please Him. From them He picks out those
for special work. Perhaps
He will want some of you by-and-by as missionaries, or
to do some other great work for Him at home or abroad.
If so, He will call you again. Should you like to be
called by Him to do great work in His Kingdom?