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                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                 Hard Hearts And Hard Thoughts (3:1-6)

INTRODUCTION

1. We have seen the criticism that Jesus endured from religious
   leaders...
   a. When He claimed to forgive sins - Mk 2:6-7
   b. When He dined with sinners - Mk 2:16
   c. When His disciples plucked grain on the Sabbath - Mk 2:23-24

2. Conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders escalated, from
   criticism to conniving...
   a. When the Pharisees sought opportunity to accuse Him - Mk 3:1-2
   b. When Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath - Mk
      3:3-5
   c. When the Pharisees began conspiring with the Herodians to destroy
      Jesus - Mk 3:6

3. On this occasion, I am struck by hardness of the Pharisees' hearts...
   a. Which moved Jesus to grief and anger - Mk 3:5
   b. Which indubitably led to their hardness of plotting to destroy
      Jesus - Mk 3:6

[Apparently unable to appreciate the healing of a suffering man, it is
easy to be critical of the Pharisees' "Hard Hearts And Hard Thoughts".
Yet if we are not careful, we can be guilty of the same...]

I. CONSIDER THE PROBLEM

   A. OF HARD HEARTS...
      1. Has been around for a long time (Cain, Pharaoh, Israel)
      2. It leads to spiritual dullness - an inability to see truth
         a. Which prompted Jesus to teach the public in parables - Mt
            13:13-15
         b. Which hindered His disciples from understanding the obvious
            - Mk 8:13-21; 16:14
      3. It leads to mental resistance - a refusal to consider what
         might be true
         a. As seen in our text with the Pharisees
         b. They were blinded to the good Jesus had done
      4. The end result is calamity! - cf. Pro 28:14
      -- Hardness of heart is a very serious problem!

   B. OF HARD THOUGHTS...
      1. Hard hearts produce hard thoughts (e.g., the plot to destroy
         Jesus)
         a. The Pharisees and Herodians were unable to see the good that
            Jesus was doing
         b. They became co-belligerents, though normally opposed to one
            another
      2. Very similar to what we see in today's political environment
         a. An inability to see any good in the opposition
         b. A willingness to engage in the politics of personal
            destruction
         c. Plotting to destroy by any means possible
      3. The same occurs often in the realm of religious differences
         a. In our efforts to stand firm for the truth
         b. We can easily begin to think ill of neighbors, co-workers,
            even brethren!
         c. It becomes evident in the way we treat others (ignore,
            malign, abuse)
      4. Hard thoughts thus lead to verbal abuse and physical violence
      -- Hard thoughts don't remain thoughts very long, they transform
         into deeds!

[Since the problems of "Hard Hearts And Hard Thoughts" are real and
serious, what can be done...?]

II. CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVE

   A. FOR HARD HEARTS...
      1. We can nurture a tender, compassionate heart; by remembering:
         a. Our own weaknesses and need for forgiveness - Ep 4:32; Co
            3:12-13
         b. The condemnation of those without compassion - Mt 18:33-35;
            Ja 2:13
      2. This will help create good and noble hearts, with fair minds
         like:
         a. The good soil in the parable of the sower - Lk 8:15
         b. The Bereans willing to give Paul a fair hearing - Ac 17:11
      -- Tender hearts are created by remembering our own failings

   B. FOR HARD THOUGHTS...
      1. Tender hearts will address the problem of hard thoughts
      2. But kind thoughts can be further nurtured by:
         a. Dwelling on things that are noble and pure - Ph 4:8
         b. Developing the mind of Christ - Ph 2:3-5
      3. Such tender minds will be characterized by:
         a. Lowliness of mind, esteeming others better than ourselves
         b. Looking out for the interests of others
      -- Tender minds are the result of growing in Christ

CONCLUSION

1. Consider the following contrast between...
   a. The mindset of the Pharisees and the Herodians - cf. Mk 3:6
   b. The mindset enjoined by the apostle Peter - cf. 1 Pe 3:8-12

2. What kind of mindset do we have...?
   a. One filled with hard thoughts produced by hard hearts?
   b. One filled with kind thoughts produced by tender hearts?

The goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering of God is designed to
produce the latter.  But if we remain hard-hearted against God and man,
we will experience the wrath of God in the day of judgment...

   Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance,
   and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads
   you to repentance?

   But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart
   you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath
   and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
                                                       - Ro 2:4-5
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