For an introduction to this series, click here.
Jan. 18, 2007
This is one of the most profoundly sad chapters in the Bible. When somebody tries to tell you that the Gospel writers painted an impossibly perfect picture of Jesus, point them to Mark 3. This is the point in Mark's gospel that the people begin to turn on Him. We should probably look at Mark 3 and 4 together, but we're not going to. Tomorrow night's post will discuss Mark 4, and you can remember that they are really one passage, probably all taking place on the same day. Who am I kidding? Of course I'll remind you.
Anyway, Jesus is going about teaching and doing miracles. He was wildly popular, so much so that Mark records this: "And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.” (3:9-10)
Then Mark records Jesus' attempt to get some privacy, and things start to go downhill: "Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, 'He is out of his mind.'"(3:20-21) His own family said He was insane.
We'll jump over the next passage for a moment.
Jesus' family did more than just say He was crazy. "And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, 'Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.' And he answered them, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.'"(3:31-35, ESV) His family were coming to take Him away. To the crazy house. At least His brothers were. I have a hard time believing that Mary would have been accusing Him of insanity, but apparently she came along, probably to be a voice of reason and compromise. Jesus knew what they were doing and did not play along. He basically told everybody listening that family didn't matter much to Him, and all that really mattered was listening to Him and obeying God.
In the passage we jumped over, Mark records the scribes' accusation that Jesus was doing His miracles in the power of Satan, or Beelzebub. Jesus accused the scribes of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, a sin that could never be forgiven. The reason such a sin can never be forgiven is that only an unregenerate heart totally hardened to the gospel could ever make such a statement. Could someone repent of that sin of unbelief and be forgiven? Yes, I think it is possible. Luke records in Acts that a significant number of priests and Pharisees believed in Jesus. Could that number have included some of the ones who accused Jesus here? Yes. But no one who keeps on rejecting Jesus to that extent can ever be saved. I believe that's what it means when it says that such blasphemy can never be forgiven: not that a person can never change, but that a person who maintains such a false belief about Jesus can ever believe.
When I read passages like Mark 3, when Jesus makes some really harsh and seemingly uncaring statements, I often wonder what I would think of Jesus if I was around back then. How would I react to someone who makes such strange statements? Would I think He was crazy like His brothers did? It's easy to dump on the people who reacted poorly to Jesus, but I say that we need to cut them a little slack. If I came across a religious teacher saying such things, I would be likely to dismiss him too as maybe a little off his rocker. You must remember that most of His family later believed in Him; at least two of His half-brothers, James and Jude, wrote books of the New Testament. Just be thankful that the Lord has opened your eyes to the truth, much like He opened His family's eyes.