Jesus’ popularity grew exponentially in Galilee and beyond primarily because His Mercy. He appointed twelve apostles to help preach and expel demons. His cures, primarily on the Sabbath, generated conflict with the scribes and Pharisees.
The Pharisees helped preserve Jewish tradition after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., but they had a big problem with Jesus’ taking on the authority of God in healing people, interpreting the law, and forgiving sins.
The scribes, with whom Jesus argued, were probably lawyers and judges. While they interpreted Jewish law, they did not make it, hence their conflicts with Jesus, who claimed authority over the law. The scribes charged that Jesus was possessed with by Beelzebul [Satan], and Jesus’ kinship thought He was insane.
A Man with a Withered Hand. 1 Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. 5 Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
The Mercy of Jesus. 7 Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people [followed] from Galilee and from Judea. 8 Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. 9 He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. 10 He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. 11 And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” 12 He warned them sternly not to make him known.
The Mission of the Twelve. 13 He went up the mountain[e] and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons: 16 [he appointed the twelve:] Simon, whom he named Peter; 17 James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, 19 and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
Blasphemy of the Scribes. 20 He came home. Again [the] crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. 21 When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 22 The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”
Jesus and Beelzebul. 23 Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. 28 Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” 30 For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Jesus and His Family. 31 His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. 32 A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.” 33 But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?” 34 And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 35 [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”