We have another collection of little episodes, which largely advance previously introduced themes. A man with a withered hand shows up at the synagogue on the Sabbath, hoping to be cured. Jesus does so, and the Pharisees start plotting to destroy him.
During the Mark 2 discussion, Lynn and Tom disagreed about whether the Pharisees would really have had cause to plot Jesus' death. The Sabbath violations weren't clear-cut, Lynn said, and a weird reason to try to kill someone. Tom has a point, though, that the technical violations weren't the issue so much as Jesus' general challenge to their power. The very next story in Mark 3, in fact, describes how Jesus went to a lakeside and was mobbed with people seeking his help. It's not too much of a stretch to imagine that someone with this much popularity and apparent supernatural powers who was also taking an un-pharisaical approach to the rules might be seen as threatening.
Despite the fact that Jesus is a lot more public now, we're now given more examples of him suppressing evil spirits who call him Son of God. Though Jesus is a recognized Big Deal, apparently he still isn't letting the whole cat out of the bag.
We then have Jesus appointing the twelve apostles, with Mark's usual perfunctoriness: Jesus calls them, their names are listed, and they're sent out.
Then follow more crowds and more healings. The local scribes accuse Jesus of being in league with Satan, who gives him his healing powers. Jesus demands: why would Satan fight his own agents? A house divided cannot stand. (So that's where that line comes from.) Then comes perhaps the most chilling line in the Gospels:
'Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’
The idea that a sin is unforgivable also raises the scary possibility that once you do it, it doesn't matter what you do afterward, you're still doomed. As I understand it, the Catholic Church has resolved this by saying that you're doomed only if you die still in the sin; so long as you're alive, you can still be saved. That makes sense, although that caveat is rather conspicuously lacking in Mark's account.
Finally, we have a story of Jesus sitting with his followers, and being called by his mother, brothers and sisters. He replies by identifying the crowd as his family, saying, "Whoever does the will of God is my mother and brother and sister."
I was conversing with Rob here earlier today about the concept of church as family, and while it often doesn't work out in practice, the idea is, in fact, right there at the beginning. Of course, the concept of family at that time was a little different; we tend to think of it today as primarily emotional, but back then it would have had more of an element of duty and material interdependence about it, and it would have encompassed a rather larger clan than our little nuclear families of today. So it might not be as sentimental as it sounds like, at first blush.