Good Morning everyone. First I would like to thank you all again for coming here today. Whether it is in person here or online. Welcome. We are going to continue with the book of Mark this morning. So far Jesus has started his ministry and left his home town and he went to Cap Er Num. While there he preached, taught, and performed miracles like healing and casting out unclean spirits inside and around the city in the local villages. He gained the attention of the local people including the religious leaders. People followed him to be healed or they just wanted to see what he would do next.
The religious leaders were not happy with what Jesus was doing and they had started accusing him of breaking their laws and customs. They accused him of breaking the Sabbath, not fasting correctly and others. To the point that in Matthew they are already plotting to kill him.
Jesus then left this area and started to travel out around the Sea of Galilee. Last week Chris showed us that the crowds were getting bigger. They still had the common people and religious leaders but the people were coming from all over, not just local areas:
7 Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a large crowd followed from Galilee, and a large crowd followed from Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and around Tyre and Sidon. The large crowd came to him because they heard about everything he was doing.
Jesus’ reputation was spreading and the crowds were getting more diverse. The entire time all of this was happening Jesus has been calling specific people to follow him and last week we saw that Jesus went up a mountain and selected and appointed his twelve apostles. After he selects the twelve he rejoins the crowd and this is where we pick up today.
Today we are going to continue to look into the crowd around Jesus and the controversies that were starting to develop because of him. We will look at the accusers of Jesus, we will look at how Jesus responded to them, and then we will look at his warning, and finally we will look at what this means for us today. Open your bible with me to Mark Chapter 3 verses 20-30.
20 Jesus entered a house, and the crowd gathered again so that they were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard this, they set out to restrain him, because they said, “He’s out of his mind.” 22 The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons.” 23 So he summoned them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is finished. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. 28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies they utter. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
What we see here is Jesus has come down from the mountain back into the crowd and into his ministry. We see that he has entered a home and there are so many people there that are unable to even eat. Other translations add that there is so little room that they “say there isn’t enough room for them to even eat bread.
How many of you are crowd people. You love the buzz and excitement and energy of a concert, sporting event or Blooms Day? How many of you are the opposite crowds give you anxiety and they are not your cup of tea. Think of being in a home so crowded that you cannot even eat bread.
Jesus is in this house ministering to the people when we come to the first group of people who are opposed to what Jesus is doing.
21 When his family heard this, they set out to restrain him, because they said, “He’s out of his mind.”
Jesus Accused By His Family
Jesus Accused By His Family
His family is watching what is going on around Jesus and there must be something different in the size or intensity of this situation. There response to what Jesus was doing is Let us go and restrain him. This means they wanted to APPREHEND him. The word also means to take him into custody. Kind of like an intervention. They are going to fight through the crowd and capture their Jesus and get him out of here.
Why do they want to capture him? They thought he was out of his mind. This literally means they believed he was insane. His family is with him and has been going along with him but he has now selected 12 special men that will be working with Him to spread his teachings. They are looking around the crowd and this is no longer little Jesus drawing a crowd. They are hearing murmurs that the religious leaders want to kill him and he is drawing attention from every where. They are worried about him and want to protect him.
Have you ever been part of something that starts one way. It is really exciting and growing. It is gaining momentum and then things change. It seems to get out of hand or really uncomfortable. You start to wonder what people will think if you are associated with what is going on. On a small scale this is one of the huge road blocks to evangelism in the church. We are on board until it get a little uncomfortable. And our response is to flee. His family want to flee with him and let this blow over. They could be be fearful of their reputation, consequences from Roman authority and Jesus authority.
There is an interesting contrast today between the church’s reaction to this type of crowd and the worlds. Celebrities and athletes are applauded for drawing a crowd. How many followers do you have on social media. A celebrity comes to town and all sorts of people come out to get just a real life glace of them but isn’t it the opposite for the church. We just don’t have the same desire to be connected to people that might be religiously controversial. We are afraid to be connected with some people. But Jesus did not seem to be bothered at all. He knew the hearts of the people around him. Even the next group of people that we find in opposition to Jesus.
22 The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons.”
This accusation seems to come out of nowhere. But Luke gives us more information on what is going on.
14 Now he was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon came out, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He drives out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.”
So while the crowd is there Jesus is casting out a demon and at the conclusion of the event the Scribes accuse him of all things, being possessed by a demon himself. Now these were not the local Scribes or religious leaders. These were the Scribes from Jerusalem. These were the Jewish National Leaders. They had traveled all the way to this area to see for their own eyes what this Jesus man was doing. They watched him cast out a demon and then the accuse him to the crowd of being possessed himself. Specifically possessed by a demon called Beelzebul.
Beelzebul is translated as the Lord, Prince or the leader of demons. In the old testament this name was given to a pagan Philistine Deity. Over time the name would be associated with Satan’s minions and even Satan himself. Regardless of the specifics, the point the Scribes were making was that Jesus was a man that was possessed by powerful demon of Satan. We will look at Jesus response in a second but there are some consequences of what just happened.
The Jewish people in the crowd just heard the most learned men in their society, the most well respected men they knew just claim publicly that Jesus was just a man possessed by the prince of demons. The confusion that would have started at that moment would have lasting effects.
As Christian’s there is a note to take from this: be careful of who you follow and deeply understand the responsibility and influence you have on those that follow you. God says go and make disciples teaching them to obey… We should always be learning to obey from those who have come before us and teaching what we have learned to those who are coming behind.
Now we get back to Jesus’ response.
23 So he summoned them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is finished. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.
They were making this accusation to the crowd not Jesus. So Jesus summons them to himself. He then proceeds to refute their logic with one of the only 3 parables recorded by Mark. He makes is crystal clear what they are claiming. He asks them how can Satan drive out Satan? He is defining the spirit he just cast out as an agent of Satan and Beezebul as Satan or also an agent of Satan. He starts with a threefold illustration to prove how ridiculous their claim is.
First he gives a worldly illustration that people would understand: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” What do we call a kingdom divided against itself? At the one end of the spectrum it is unrest and at the other it is civil war. We can relate to this all over the world today. On Wikipedia it records in 2019:
4 Major Wars = 10K death last year
4 Wars = 1K - 10K
17 Minor Conflicts: 100 - 1000
20 Skirmishes: less than 100
45 conflicts resulting in close to 100K casualties last year and 3/4 of a million people dead since 214.
Do you think these countries are in a state that is growing or declining. Even in our own country we have seen how much progress is slowed down when a country divides itself into different ideals. Just look at our political climate. Regardless of who you think is right my guess is most here would agree it is a mess and not as effective as it could be.
The second Illustration is a social one: If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
We see this played out in marriages and households all the time. when one part of the household attacks another there is only one eventual conclusion to the conflict. A broken home. And with 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, even in the church, we can understand this as well.
Then he gives the spiritual illustration: And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is finished. Realize Satan wants to win the battle. He will not do anything to weaken himself or his quest.
The other nuance of this accusation is found in Luke
19 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive them out? For this reason they will be your judges.
Jewish exocists would cast out demons as well. So if their claim is true then the Jewish people were also casting out demons through the power of Satan. This was just an absurd claim.
Jesus continues with:
27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.
He is telling them that he is the man who has already tied up the strong man, Satan, and he has the authority and power to plunder Satan’s house.
He has rebuked them and shown how foolish their claim is. He finishes the encounter with a warning:
28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies they utter. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
This is a section of scripture that can really hang people up. When we talk about the unforgivable sin what does that mean and how does it apply to us today. Jesus says “truly” People will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies the utter. Jesus says people will be forgiven for two things, sins and blasphemies. How many sins? All sins. The word all means constituting the full quantity or extent: complete. People WILL be forgiven, not might be, they will be be forgiven all sins. He also says people will be forgiven whatever blasphemies the utter. to blaspheme means to speak falsely, irreverently, or against God. To make false claims or to slander God. He said that everything that comes out of peoples mouths will be forgiven.
He then seems to contradict himself with
29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
This is not a contradiction. Jesus is turning the table on these religious leaders. Up to this point they were the ones accusing Jesus of blaspheming against God. Now he is accusing them of the same thing and actually he is accusing them of something worse. This specific pair of verses was directed to those who Jesus encountered during his earthly ministry. I looked up 4 different sources to verify this interpretation. This was a very specific action of blasphemy.
In the book Biblical Doctrine by MacAurther and Mayhue the definition of The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is:
“The willful and final rejection of the Holy Spirit who is working through Jesus, by attributing God’s work in Christ to Satan”.
This sin could only be committed during the time Jesus walked on the earth. It was the rejection of Jesus and the Miracles of Jesus that were performed by the power of the Holy Spirit. These men watched the son of God do amazing feats. They were watching their own prayers being answered. The prophecies of the Messiah were being fulfilled right before ther eyes and the conclusion they came to was: It was the work of Satan.
For us today when Jesus said all sin will be forgiven, he ment it. To those today there is no line that can be crossed that cannot be redeemed from. Every evil thing that humanity can create is forgivable. It is not about the point of no return. It is about the point of return. The second you return or returned to Jesus from your lost condition you returned home. You are sealed, you are forgiven, there is a place for you in heaven.
9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.
The line between unforgiven and forgiven is a single line. A line that is so narrow and safe but to the lost it looks a deep cavern of no return. Have you ever seen a cattle guard? So what should we take home from the word this morning.
Following Jesus will get uncomfortable at some point.
Like Jesus, as you grow into his likeness and become more like him, your friends and family will want to restrain you because you are out of your mind. You will spend your time differently, you will care for people in a way that does not make sense, you will do weird things with your money.
If you never find yourself uncomfortable then do you have another growing area in your life.
As Christian’s we need to be careful of who we follow and deeply understand the responsibility and influence we have on those that follow us. We have the precious, priceless, saving, gift of salvation to share with the world. How we present it is important. I have learned a lot the last 6 months that the more important the message the more care need to be taken in presenting that message. Bad or negative communication will overshadow an important message. What am I getting at hear? Does Jesus want sinners saved? Does heaven rejoice when a lost sheep has returned? Then we need to be as well. We need to communicate that when we take a stand on biblical truths like abortion, biblical marriage, and other issues, people understand we are for them to return to Jesus. That their hope remains in him. If we only stand against peoples sin period. Then they miss the most important part, why we stand against sin. We stand against sin because a relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in the world.
Unity is so important in all aspects of life but more specifically unity with Christ in all aspects of our life is so important. Do not be divided.
We should take comfort that as Christian’s all of our mistakes are forgivable and forgiven. Does this mean we go on sinning? Nope. Our love for Jesus should create a desire to please him and to show him we love Him by obeying his commands.
If you are not a Christian and you have not made that decision to follow Jesus today could be that day. If you are waiting to clean up your act or if you think you are past the point of no return, urge you to cross the point of return. Talk to me or anyone else. We will help you understand and answer all of your questions. You to can leave here today knowing that you have eternal life in heaven.
As we pray, keep this in mind:
8 Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.