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The Gospel of Mark #10 - The Unpardonable Sin

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The Gospel of Mark #10:

The Unpardonable Sin

Text: Mark 3:20-35

Thesis: To note the importance of accepting Jesus for who He is.


(1)   After Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees concerning the Sabbath day, He withdrew with His disciples to the sea.

(a)    A great multitude from various locations followed Him.

(b)   Jesus healed many people with afflictions and cast out many demons.

(c)    Eventually, He and His disciples withdrew to a mountain where He appointed twelve of them to be apostles.

(2)   After appointing the twelve apostles, He and His disciples go to a house where a multitude gathers again.

(3)   In the discussion that follows, Jesus warns against the unpardonable sin.


I.                   The Story:

A.    “In 3:20-35 a story about the scribes accusing Jesus of being possessed by a demon (vv. 22-30) has been inserted into a story about Jesus’ family in order to allow for the family’s travel time from Nazareth (cf. 1:9) to wherever Jesus was and – more importantly – to show that Jesus’ family as well as the religious authorities misunderstood and opposed him” (Brooks 73).

B.     As the crowd was gathered around Jesus, some of His friends/family come to Him to “help” Him.

1.      They did not understand who Jesus truly was and what His mission truly was, but they did know that He was causing “trouble” and was going without food and such.

2.      Because of their lack of understanding, they accuse Him of being “out of His mind” (v. 21).

a.       “Since madness was often regarded as due to possession by a demon, it is arguable that their judgment on the situation was close to that of the scribes in the next verse” (Hooker 115).

b.      His friends/family may have said this attempting to calm down the political and religious authorities.

C.     The scribes continued on with the reasoning that Jesus was “out of His mind” and accused Him of being possessed by Beelzebub.

1.      Beelzubub literally means “lord of the house.”

a.       “It refers to Satan as somewhat of a king of the underworld, the head of a demoniac mafia, if you please. Beelzebub was the godfather who sat back in his big chair and gave orders to the rest of the little demons” (Schubert 49).

b.      “They were accusing Jesus of being demonized and claimed that the demon which controlled him was the one that ruled over the evil spirits” (Hughes 1:91).

2.      “They could not deny that he cast out demons, but they would not accept the conclusion that Jesus was empowered by God” (Black 84).

3.      “They may be venomously attempting to undermine Jesus by branding him as the devil’s spawn” (Garland 132).

D.    Jesus responded with two parabolic sayings that “all develop the same basic theme, that since strength depends on unity, an attack on any part of Satan’s domain is a sign not of collusion with him but of threat to his power” (France 171).

1.      In the first parabolic saying, “Jesus said that if there is internal dissension in a kingdom, the kingdom cannot last” (Schubert 49).

a.       In other words, “if it was by the power of Satan that He had cast out the demon, then Satan was actually fighting against Himself!” (Wiersbe 1:122).

b.      “But internal revolution is not the only way to topple a regime; an alternative method is invasion, and this, the true explanation, is set out in v. 27” (Hooker 116).

2.      In the second parabolic saying, Jesus said “the defeat of the demons showed that Jesus was not in league with Satan. It showed that Satan’s defenses had been breached, a stronger power had arrived, and the conquest of Satan had begun” (Schubert 50).

a.       The strong man is Satan.

b.      The house is Satan’s kingdom on earth.

c.       His possessions are the victims that he holds in bondage.

3.      Overall, “Jesus explains that his ability to cast out demons by the Spirit of God is evidence that the Kingdom of God has come” (cf. Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20) (Black 84).

E.     Jesus continued on by discussing the impossibility of forgiveness to those who commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

1.      “To blaspheme is to speak evil of, to offer intentional indignity to God or to sacred things” (Schubert 50).

2.      “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit forever removes a man beyond the sphere where forgiveness is possible” (Lane 145).

3.      “The use of the imperfect tense of the verb in the explanatory note, ‘because they were saying that he is possessed,’ implies repetition and a fixed attitude of mind, the tokens of callousness which brought the scribes to the brink of unforgivable blasphemy” (Lane 146).

4.      In Matthew 12:32, Jesus contrasted blasphemy against the Son of Man, which could be forgiven, and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which could not be forgiven.  Therefore, when people “sinned against the Holy Spirit, they had reached ‘the end of the line’ and there could be no more forgiveness” (Wiersbe 1:122).

F.      As Jesus was talking, His family sent word to Him because they could not get inside to Him.

1.      Jesus responded by pointing out that His family is those who do His will.

2.      “Jesus allows neither ‘his own people’ (v. 21) nor ‘mother and brothers’ (v. 31) to take priority over the new society he has formed in the Twelve” (Edwards 118).

II.                The Application:

A.    We can sin in such a way so that we cannot be forgiven of it.

1.      The Bible refers to “unforgivable sins” (cf. Num. 25:30-31; Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-31; 12:16-17; 1 John 5:16-17).

2.      What is this sin?

a.       “Anyone who is worried about having committed the sin against the Holy Spirit has not yet committed it, for anxiety of having done so is evidence of the potential for repentance. There is no record in Scripture of anyone asking forgiveness of God and being denied it!” (Edwards 124).

b.      “The blasphemy Jesus was talking about results from a stubbornness of heart on the part of those who do the blaspheming” (Schubert 51).

c.       “It is the ongoing, continual rejection of the witness of the Holy Spirit to the Divinity and Saviorhood of Christ” (Hughes 1:92).

d.      “Any sin that is committed with such arrogance and hardness of heart that its perpetrator cannot and will not confess it is beyond pardon — not because of the action itself but on account of the sinner’s insolence” (R. Shelly).

e.       “For such, there can be no forgiveness, for they have refused the only way of forgiveness that God has provided, they have slammed the door” (Cole 142).

3.      In other words, the sin for which we cannot be forgiven is the sin for which we will not ask forgiveness.

B.     We must see Christ for who He is.

1.      C. S. Lewis said: “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God” (55).

2.      Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only way to Heaven!

C.     We can be a part of Jesus’ family if we will do His will.


(1)   What will you do with Jesus?

(2)   Will you accept Him as your Savior today?

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