Chapter three concludes the first half of Jesus’ ministry and sets up the reader for the rest of the work Jesus would do leading to his death. Following the backdrop of picking wheat on the Sabbath, Jesus chose to heal a man on the Sabbath in a synagogue (Mark 3:1-6). The religious leaders had decided to use this as a litmus test, of sorts, to finally determine what they thought of Jesus. Knowing how hard their hearts were (Mark 3:5), Jesus healed the man, driving them to begin their plans to have him killed (Mark 3:6).
After continuing to preach and heal people (Mark 3:7-12), Jesus decided to expand his ministry. From the thousands of people who were following him, he chose only twelve “so that they would be with him” and multiply his ministry (Mark 3:14). Though Mark specifically noted only that they would “preach and …cast out demons” (Mark 3:15), the other writers include other miracles as well. These twelve, including Judas Iscariot, would be his “apostles.”
Sometime after that (Mark does not say how long), Jesus returned “home” (probably to Capernaum, Mark 2:1) and was greeted with full rejection from the religious leaders, not just the local ones but from Jerusalem as well (Mark 3:22). By calling him a pawn of Satan, they demonstrated they had taken sides against him and his ministry. Jesus responded that this attitude was unforgiveable, even into eternity (Mark 3:28-29). When his family tried to “rescue” him from the shame and disgrace they thought he was bringing on himself and them by engaging with the religious leaders in this way, Jesus began to drive home the point that spiritual family is more important than religious connections or standing or bloodlines. Those who do God’s will are Jesus’ closest family (Mark 3:31-35).