Jesus Teaches and Heals

Written by Pastor James Dorman

Matt. 12:15-21; Mark 3:7-12

  1. Thoughts from Matthew and Mark:

Matthew 12:15-21 (NIV84): Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, 16 warning them not to tell who he was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
18“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. 19He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. 20A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. 21In his name the nations will put their hope.”

Mark 3:7–12 (NIV84) “Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

  1. Passage Outline

Jesus Teaches and Heals

Matt. 12:15-21; Mark 3:7-12

I. Jesus withdraws to the Sea and a Great Multitude followed Him (Matt 12:15; Mark 3:7-10a)

II. The Nature of the Healings (Matt 12:16-21; Mark 3:10b-12)

a. Jesus heals all who reach him (Matt 12:16a; Mark 3:10b)

b. Unclean Spirits told not to make Him known (Matt 12:16b; Mark 3:11-12)

c. This fulfills another Isaiahan Prophecy (Matt 12:17-21)

  1. Information to Consider

These verses seem to mark the first decisive breach between Jesus and organized Judaism. If this is correct, it took place near the start of the ministry of Jesus, and is quite as marked and decisive in the synoptic gospels as it is in John. Jesus now moved away from those who had become his enemies, by a deliberate act of separation, and his disciples accepted the consequences of this separation by following him (7). Not only so, but big crowds poured down, not merely from Galilee now; from Edom in the south to Tyre in the north and Transjordan in the east (so possibly including Gentiles), they gathered to him, eager to be healed. It is as if the sabbath healing by Jesus in the synagogue was being vindicated by the common people, though official Judaism repudiated it. It is a marked biblical stress that in spiritual matters the plain judgment of the simple heart is a truer guide than the wrangling of the learned. What is hidden from the wise is revealed to mere babies (Matt. 11:25–26). For the generally favourable attitude to Jesus of the ochlos, the ‘crowd’, in Mark, see Minear. Yet, at the last, in Jerusalem, this very ‘crowd’ seems to have turned against him, when ‘stirred up’ by the chief priests (15:11).

9–10. There are several other references in the gospels to Jesus’ practice of sitting in a ship moored offshore, and preaching to the crowds on the beach, when ordinary means of reaching such large numbers had failed. It was only one of the instances in which it was proved that the prior life and training of his fisherfolk disciples was by no means wasted, though they had forsaken it to follow him. Frequently Jesus used their skill and strength to cross the sea by boat, although they had to learn that, even in the sphere where they felt most at home, Jesus was still Lord (cf. 4:41). There is at least one gospel reference to Peter being commanded by Jesus to ‘cast a hook’ and fish (Matt. 17:27), and one of the resurrection stories finds the disciples fishing under the direction of Jesus, this time using their nets (John 21:3). It is therefore reasonable to suppose that the skill of the disciples may often have supplied them all with a meal. God does not always meet our needs by supernatural miracles: that is the exception, not the rule. To sit in the boat on this occasion was a good idea, but it was not a miracle, and the boat itself was not miraculous but provided by a disciple, in a perfectly ‘natural’ way. Yet there were miracles in plenty in the context, in healings and exorcisms by Jesus, and indeed it was the crowds resulting from these miracles that led to the need for the boat.

11–12. Note the steady refusal of Jesus to accept demonic testimony to his person or work, though such testimony would have been irrefutable. The reason for this refusal is not given by Mark, but it seems reasonable to suppose that Jesus wanted others to find out who he was by listening to his words and by watching his deeds. This is made clear in his reply to the puzzled disciples of the imprisoned John, who were sent to ask bluntly whether Jesus was the Christ or not. ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard’ (Luke 7:22). Here were messianic signs in plenty; but it needed the eye of faith to interpret them.

But the scribes and Pharisees, who, of all others ought to have known from their close study of the Old Testament how to recognize the Messiah when he came, not only watched his mighty deeds unmoved; they actually attributed his expulsion of demons to demonic power (3:22). This was a deliberate distortion of the truth which called forth from Jesus the solemn warning as to the danger of such sin against the Holy Spirit, which, by its very nature, is unforgivable (3:29), since it has rejected in advance the only path to forgiveness provided by God.[1]

  1. Questions to Ponder

a. Why did Jesus withdraw? (Matt. 12:15)

b. Meaning of Matt 12:19 and its fulfillment here?

c.  What and where is Idumea? (Mk. 3:8)

  1. Author’s Comments

Within this passage there are three key items to direct our focus:  (1) the reasons behind Jesus’ withdrawal; (2) the reason behind Jesus’ desire for anonymity; and (3) another Isaiahan prophecy fulfilled.

The Gospels record many instances when Jesus would choose to withdraw from the multitudes.  Having spent many years in ministry, I have become deeply aware of the spiritual, emotional and physical energy necessary to engage with people and provide the ministry necessary for their spiritual enlightenment and growth.  In these two passages we discover Jesus’ need to withdraw due to His instructional ministry, His engagement in miraculous healings, and His need to separate Himself from the Jewish leaders who were seeking to undermine His ministry efforts and disrupt the timing of His entrance into Jerusalem.

 Within this passage we find two reasons for Jesus’ desire to remain anonymous.  First, Jesus was fully aware the Jewish leaders were looking for any and every reason to bring His ministry to an end.  While wanting to make an indelible impact through His ministry of instruction and healing, He wanted to be able to continue in this endeavor until He felt His mission on Earth was completed.  Secondly, Jesus desired to model the characteristic of humility.  His mission, His essence, and His ability to perform miracles came from His deep and abiding connection with His Heavenly Father – a reality which allowed Jesus to engage with the multitudes with authentic humility.

 Finally, a key ability to recognize the divinity of Jesus is the pathway God laid out through the prophetic signposts promised in the OT and fulfilled in the NT.  Here, Matthew and Mark identify one of the many signposts God has provided for us within His Word.

 As we consider the lessons within this passage, the one standing out most is to be sure we do what is necessary to remain fully charged in our spiritual, emotional, and physical realms of our daily approach to life.

  1. Closing Prayer


We are so grateful for the example of Jesus.  Through the recordings of His life found in the Gospels, we discover ways to mature in our ability to bring balance to the life You have given to each of us here on Earth.

May we pursue our lives in such a manner that we bring glory to You and better understand how to engage in our lives, our ministries, and our relationships so that we maximize the time You have given us.

In Jesus’ Name, AMEN

  1. Answers to “Questions to Ponder”

a. Jesus was constantly striving to keep a balance in His ministry between engaging in miracles and teaching.  He made the assessment an imbalance was happening and withdrew to begin His teaching ministry again.

b. This is a continuation of the “Suffering Messiah” section (Chapters 42-53) contained within Isaiah. Its’ meaning here is Jesus would not strive for outward attention (“he will not strive; nor cry aloud”) and Jesus would not kick a person when he was down but would rather encourage and raise them up.

c. Idumea was the same as the Kingdom of the Nabateans.  It was located beyond the Jordan and south of the Dead Sea.

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[1] Cole, R. A. (1989). Mark: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 135–137). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.