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Posts Tagged "Mark 3:20-35"

Three Views of Jesus

June 07, 2021
By Rev. David French

During the time Jesus was teaching the gospel, He also drove out demons; cleansed lepers; healed the blind, the deaf, the paralytics; fed the hungry; and so much more. And as you might imagine, His teaching and miracles had made Jesus very popular with the people. Not surprisingly, that popularity followed Him back to His headquarters in Capernaum, where we find Him today. Most of the people who showed up at the house wanted Jesus’s help in some way.  But, there were others who were there who were concerned about Jesus.

Jesus’s family was concerned that He was getting overworked. Remember, at this point, even His family didn’t understand what it meant that He was the Messiah. They thought He was having some kind of breakdown or was “out of his mind.”  They just wanted to get Him out of the public eye and someplace safe.

Then, there were the scribes from Jerusalem.  Jesus’s popularity had drawn the attention of the religious authorities in Jerusalem. They sent this delegation to investigate Jesus. They quickly saw Jesus as a threat and began a campaign to embarrass Him publicly so that they could diminish His influence.  They began saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.”

So, today’s Gospel reading gives us three views of Jesus. The crowds who thought He was the savior even though they had no idea what that meant. His family who thought He was having some sort of mental breakdown. And the scribes from Jerusalem who claimed He was working with Satan.

Not only that, but in addition to the three views of Jesus that were shown in today’s Gospel, there is also a clear connection between the scribes and today’s Old Testament reading. I mean, remember that when God cursed the serpent for his part in the fall, God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.” Jesus is the seed of the woman and the scribes are the seed of the serpent.

We know that the scribes are the seed of the Satan because this isn’t the first time that they challenged Jesus. Another time, recorded by John, Jesus was teaching about our slavery to sin, and we hear the teachers of the law claim God as their Father, and Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” So Jesus Himself identifies Satan as the father of the Pharisees and scribes.

So, what we’re seeing is Satan working through the scribes, a very subtle tactic for deceiving people. The scribes, whether they know it or not, are actually in league with Satan by trying to embarrass Jesus by accusing Him of being in league with Satan. That is, they condemn Jesus of doing what they themselves are guilty of. This tactic, as you well know, is still around today.  I mean, how often have we heard public figures condemn those who are unfaithful to the vows of marriage only to learn that they themselves either are or have been unfaithful to their marriage vows?

And, what about us? How often do we use this tactic when God’s Word challenges us?  When God’s Word convicts us of our sin, do we repent or do we accuse or accuse others of being worse? How often do we complain that we are not being fed when it is we who refuse to take in the bread of life that is in the Word of God more than one day a week?  

How often do we accuse others of arrogance when it is we who want our way rather than what God's Word clearly teaches? If we’re honest, we will confess that we have often been exactly like the scribes in today’s Gospel. When God’s Word convicts us, our instinct is to attack rather than to repent of our sins. That truth, my friends, is proof that our own sinful nature is alive and well. It’s a sign that we love ourselves more than we love God.  It confirms that we are, by nature, enemies of God.

But, if we still sin, can we really be saved?  The answer to that question begins with the promise that God spoke immediately after His curse. He didn’t begin and end with, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring,” but He continued with, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” That is, God will provide a Savior. God promised a seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head, that is, destroy his power to poison and kill. A seed who will restore the original relationship that humanity had with God at the time of creation.

Jesus fulfilled that promise of God. Even though He is God, He humbled Himself and was born the promised seed of the woman. The serpent tempted Jesus in every way possible, but unlike us, Jesus never disobeyed God. That is, our substitute never sinned. Satan finally did bruise the heel of the seed by causing Jesus to be tortured and nailed to a cross. And while on that cross, Jesus endured the punishment and died the death which we deserve for all our sins, including the hypocrisy of condemning others for doing what we do. You see, it was with His blood that Jesus crushed the serpent’s head, clearing the path of salvation for us all to walk by grace through faith with Him. 

Even in today’s Gospel, Jesus repeats the promise, “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter ….” Jesus can make this promise because He believed the Father’s Word was trustworthy and that He would crush the serpent’s head.  He believed that He would triumph over sin, death, and the power of the devil. He believed that offering His life would cover the cost of life and salvation for all people.

But then, Jesus went on to issue a warning saying, “… but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” The Bible tells us that God sent the Holy Spirit to do two things: to create and strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ, and to deliver forgiveness of sins to us through that faith. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is rejecting what He offers. The Holy Spirit offers faith and forgiveness. The blasphemer rejects those gifts. Jesus went to the cross to crush the serpent’s head so that we could live with the hope forgiveness brings, but God will not force us to take the gift He offers. The reason this sin cannot be forgiven is that the blasphemer chooses to ignore or reject the very forgiveness Christ purchased for us. It is the result of our sinful nature controlling our free will.

Finally, Jesus taught us what it means to be a part of His family. He said, “Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” But the will of God is not what most people think it is because we so often turn to the Law, but John records Jesus saying in chapter 6, “This is the (will) of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  So, Jesus teaches that you and all who believe in Him are members of His family. You are the ones whose sins are forgiven and have already received the gift of eternal life.

In His name, Amen.

Tags: Mark 3:20-35
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