In the beginning of Marks gospel, Jesus began his ministry with a bang: having Father God saying that he was His son, driving out evil spirits and healing many. The crowds followed him in their multitude seeing what he will do next and what will he say. We are told in verse 20 of our reading today that Jesus and his disciples were that busy they did not have time to even eat. Jesus family thought He was out of his mind because He wouldn’t take a break from ministry to eat a meal. They figured they could talk some sense into Him.
Two weeks ago we discovered that Jesus was starting to make enemies of the religious leaders based on him healing on the Sabbath, and now they are calling him offensive names. Sue last week said that there is power in calling somebody by name. She mentioned that if you call the name Janet – all of the Janets will look up and pay attention, likewise if you use the name Michael. So who is this Beelzebub? It is a name derived from a Philistine god. It is also used as a name given to a major demon, especially in Christianity where it is also another name for the devil or Satan.
In Jesus’s normal manner he responds wisely. He talks about unity, something that we are struggling to see around the UK and the world. Jesus says in verse 24 to 27 “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself, and is divided, he can’t stand, his end will come”. What Jesus is saying here is like that of a family that are always fighting, that family will not stay together, because at the first opportunity, members of that family will leave, as many of us may have witnessed with some families around us. A home is not a home unless it is filled with love, unity and peace. We all, however, are part of the church and this is the same for the church. Unity gives us great power from God. The church must maintain a unity of love and purpose in the midst of all of the different opinions that it faces. Unity does not mean uniformity i.e. the state of being the same. Unity is an undivided thing or entity. We are individuals and not clones. God has made us all unique and that is to be celebrated. We can all be part of the same family without thinking in the same way as we all have different opinions and interests, but as long as we are united around Jesus. Jesus must be at the centre of everything we do, this is what unifies us. Alleluia!!
Continuing into verse 27 it says: “In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house”. Was this Jesus giving robbers some advice!! Or was Jesus letting us know that Satan defends his kingdom, but Jesus has the power to invade Satan’s kingdom & deliver those who are in the devil’s grip. Jesus has power over the devil as outlined in 1 John 3 verse 8! Amen.
In verses 28 and 29, Jesus gives us some strong words. He said that all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven; something that only God can do according to the religious leaders at the time. But he did say that there was one sin that would never be forgiven and that is a sin against the Holy Spirit. Didn’t Jesus die that that we may be forgiven? A slate wiped clean? What is the unforgivable sin? Have I done it? Have you done it?
In John 3 verse 18 it says “whoever believes in him [that is Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son”, and in verse 36 “whoever believes in the son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son, will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”.
Rather than acknowledging that fact that Jesus was exercising his divine powers, the Pharisees were so spiritually depraved that they attributed his power to Satan. This was not blind ignorance, but was a wilful rejection of the Spirit. Jesus’ point is that by stubbornly identifying the good works of God as coming from the devil, the Pharisees were cutting themselves off from God’s forgiveness: when you are so confident that you are right, you will never listen to anyone who tells you that you might be wrong. Here, God’s very Spirit was at work, and they were insisting on seeing that work as coming from the devil. If we do that, we’ll never listen to God’s Spirit convicting us of our sin and driving us to our knees to seek forgiveness. Thus the sin is ‘unforgiveable’ – not because it’s so bad that God is unable to forgive it, but because unrepentant sin is unforgiven sin, and this attitude never seeks forgiveness, therefore is an eternal sin.
In verses 31-35 Jesus’ family was looking for him – it could have been to rescue him from the crowds and the religious leaders whom he was annoying, or it could have been because they too thought he had gone mad. Jesus implied that in God’s kingdom true relatives are determined not by blood, but by a faith relationship. In other words we are all family. We are all brothers and sisters in God’s kingdom. Look to your left and then look to your right, look in front and behind – these are your brothers and sisters. We are one family. Pete James and Harvey Jessop wrote a song with these lyrics – “We are a flame that is burning bright, lifting hope in the darkest times. From every land, every tribe and tongue. A world of hearts that are joined as one, with arms open wide, we are family. So ring the bells, fling wide the doors. Young and old and rich and poor. All around the world, one family. From our neighbour to the farthest land. We carry light and the truth in hand, all around the world, one family”.
I would like to conclude by quoting from C. S. Lewis’s, Mere Christianity, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. 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, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to… Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.” How about you?