40-Day Challenge: 4 Gospels in 40 Days: Day 2 (Mark 3-5) – Persevering Under Pressure

Jesus’ ministry exposed him to constant pressure. The crowd pressed upon him in public places (3:9-10; 4:1; 5:31). People with diseases pressed toward him in order to touch him for healing. When he went to his home, the crowd pressed him so much that he was not even able to eat a meal with his family (3:20). His family pressured him for attention (3:31). The religious people pressured him to conform to their traditions of acceptable behavior (3:2; 3:22).  A synagogue ruler pressed him to come immediately to heal his daughter while, at the same time, a hemorrhaging woman pressed to touch the hem of his garment (5:23).

Although he was under tremendous pressure, almost daily, to serve thousands of people, Jesus served patiently, often all day long, with great wisdom and compassion.  In fact, John, in his gospel, makes a pretty profound statement about the magnitude of Jesus’ ministry; he writes, “There are many other things that Jesus did.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written (John 21:25 – NET).”

Mark’s gospel is unique from the other three gospels in that it emphasizes Jesus as servant, as graciously bearing the burden of responding to all — to every single person — who came to him for help.  He turned no one away.  The demands on his time and energy were constant. Requests for help were urgent and unrelenting. As he labored under this pressure, he not only had to endure insults and opposition from religious leaders but also avoid their attempts to assassinate him.

As I take this fresh look at Jesus’ ministry, my heart is more deeply touched than ever by his selflessness, especially as I imagine the daily stress he endured during his three years of ministry. Yes, I realize that he was divine but I also realize that he was very human. The pressure must have been overwhelming to his human spirit. He was often grieved, angry, and disappointed at how those he served responded to him. Yet, he persevered under pressure. He never stopped caring. He never stopped giving. He poured out his very soul to the end.

“Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him  Isaiah 53:10 (NET).” Nearly 750 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah, a Hebrew prophet, wrote prophetically about the afflictions and pressures that Jesus, the Suffering Servant, would endure. Isaiah emphatically stated that God’s salvation purpose would be accomplished through Jesus’ afflictions.

Jesus knew that the pressure had purpose.

Lord, when the pressure of serving others seems overwhelming, help me to look at your example of how to persevere under pressure knowing that your purpose is being accomplished through me. I am encouraged to know that I do not have to bear life’s burdens alone but that I can throw all my cares on you. You can calm any storm that arises in my life. Yes Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief.

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