Read: Mark 3:7-35
As the Pharisees began to plot against Jesus, the crowds are overflowing. Mark quickly lists the 12 disciples, then focuses on accusations about Jesus’ motivation. In my mind, this quickly gets ugly. Jesus has some strong words for those who are completely confused. At the same time, we are challenged to consider the sin for which there is no forgiveness. Think about that.
Side note: A zillion years ago, I was part of a group of men who reacted some parts of the Gospels as Jesus and his disciples. The part I was given was Simon the Zealot. You may be surprised at the casting call, but I was on active duty in the Air Force at the time. In those days, “bull in a china shop” was my moniker. I’ve lost a lot of that edge, but fondly remember having endless energy and boundless faith. Oh how I long for younger days!
Here’s a quick outline for the rest of chapter 3:
- Crowds Follow Jesus: Mark 3:7-12
- Jesus Appoints the Twelve: Mark 3:13-19
- Jesus Accused by His Family and by Teachers of the Law: Mark 3:20-35
Of all those who followed Jesus, there were a select few called to be disciples:
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted… Mark 3:13
Can you imagine? Were others disappointed? Or did it just make sense? I’m not convinced they really knew what they were getting into, but watching this man heal so many, hearing His words of compassion for the least, the lost and the lonely, learning how to serve God with fresh teaching, on and on–that must have been so overwhelming.
Jesus’ family and those who were teachers of the law had a different opinion:
When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” Mark 3:21-22
Oh man, Jesus is not happy with being “handled” for sure, but I think He understands the confusion amongst His earthly family. However, the teachers of the law have just taken this a step too far. He tells a sensible parable to debunk their accusation that He is of Satan, then caps it off with this bold assertion:
Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:28-29
Hear this clearly, teachers of the law, your slanderous words, your sinful desires, your relentless pursuit of knowledge without wisdom can all be forgiven, but calling the Son of God one who is from Satan is a bridge too far–you will not be forgiven if you hold onto this statement.
These men watched Jesus perform miraculous healing, yet their minds are so lost they would suggest this was of Satan. In my wild imagination, I can see the look Jesus gave them when He spoke those words. I see Him say each word carefully and distinctly as He looks at each of them. With that look, Jesus could have vaporized them, but He gives them a chance to withdraw, to change, to recant. Did some? Possibly. Clearly, there were many who were stained by this horrible misperception.
Lord help me to learn to listen without warping Your words. I long to be in that group that hears your voice, that sees your eyes, that watches you gesture and smile.