WHOSE YOUR MOMMA? or PARDON THE UNPARDONABLE
MARK 3: 20-35
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers Send for Him
Mark 3:20-21: Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 21 But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind… Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.”33 But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”
The Bible is an amazing, life-changing book that feeds our soul by providing both spiritual milk and spiritual meat to help us grow. That’s why context, word studies from the original languages, verb tenses and look at cross-references are important. As we will see today, all of this is extremely helpful in understanding the unforgivable sin.
While we address various teaching topics at FloodGate, my preaching preference is verse-by-verse or passage by passage exposition where we work our way through a book of the Bible, like we are doing with the Gospel of Mark. There are many advantages to this approach but at the top is the fact that I’m forced to deal with topics that might not make their way into a felt-need kind of sermon series. If our preaching diet were to be totally topical, we’d avoid the tough texts and end up swimming only on the surface.
I’m praying that our passage will comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. There’s a warning here about the horrible reality that one could be utterly and totally forsaken by God, judged with His righteous judgment and sent to the everlasting flames of hell.
There was always a reaction when Jesus preached. People didn’t just sit passively or sleep during his sermons. They either embraced Him or attacked Him. They bowed before Him or blasted Him. As we continue in our passage, we see two strong responses. The first is from those closest to Him and the other from those who were threatened by Him.
- Friends and family thought he was deranged. Look at Mark 3:20-21: Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 21 But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.” Don’t miss the obvious: when you stand up for Jesus, your friends and family may turn from you.
The religious police thought He was demonized. While His family thought He was mad, the police thought He was bad. His family thought he was cra-cra and the religious crowd alleged that he was demonized. Mark 3:6 says the Pharisees and the Herodians were plotting to destroy Jesus. And now the Scribes try to take him out.
News about Jesus had reached all the way to the capital city of Jerusalem, located about 90 miles away (like driving coast to coast today). Making the several day journey the scribes, who served as the religious police, confront Christ by making a very evil accusation about Jesus in verse 22: “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.”
It’s interesting that they don’t deny that Jesus heals diseases or that Jesus cast out demons. Instead, they try to discount His power and to destroy His prestige. The New Living Translation says it like this: “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” Their insulting and vile attack is two-pronged and is designed to turn His followers against Jesus.
They say Jesus is possessed by Beelzebul. The religious leaders often made this accusation as seen in John 8:48: The Jews answered him, ‘Are we not right in saying you are a Samaritan (1/2 breed) and have a demon? In Mark they are not saying he has an ordinary demon but that satan himself has taken possession of him. They use a very nasty and derogatory name that comes from ancient Canaan, meaning the “lord of the dung flies” or the “lord of filth.”
They say Jesus casts out demons by the prince of demons. The word “prince” refers to the chief demon and is another way of saying he bows to Beelzebub and serves Satan.
After laying the ultimate insult at the feet of Jesus, Jesus responds in verse 23: So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? We see that He does two things:
- He called them to Himself. This phrase (proskalesamenos) was used of summoning an adversary into a court of law. I wonder if they were nervous when He asked them to come closer.
- He spoke in parables. A parable is an analogy and literally means, “to lay something alongside.” Parable take something we understand in order to explain something we don’t.
Jesus’ answer is summed up briefly and powerfully in the form of an absurd question: How can Satan cast out Satan? Good teachers use rhetorical questions. Jesus used them all the time.
Jesus then uses the word “divided (meristhe)” three times in the next three verses to prove His point. This word means, “to be disunited by discord; to be separated into parts.”
1. Divided kingdoms don’t stand. His listeners were probably thinking of how Israel and Judah split into two parts after the death of Solomon when Jesus said in verse 24: If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. A divided house cannot stand. In verse 25 we’re reminded of the importance of a family not fracturing: And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
A divided Satan cannot stand. Jesus points out the absurdity of their evil argument in verse 26: And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. If satan were to cast out demons it would defeat his own purpose, and satan would never act contrary to his own interests. He wants to destroy the work of God, not his own work.
In verse 27, Jesus goes in for the kill shot, literally: No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house. If you want to take the property of someone, you must overpower the owner. Here Jesus is saying that Satan is the strong man but He is the stronger Savior.
Jesus binds satan and then plunders his possessions. I believe these possessions, or “goods” are the helpless victims satan holds in bondage through his demons. To “plunder (diarpasai)” means to “snatch, seize and carry away.” That’s exactly what Jesus has been doing, and continues to do today as He saves people from the bondage of serving sin and satan.
There is no way that the LORD of LORDS is in league with the prince of darkness! Jesus has come to conquer the evil one and to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 is quite clear: The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Keeping in mind the context, let’s look now at the text found in verses 29-30: Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— 30 because they said, “He has an unclean spirit. To “blaspheme (blasphemese)” means “defiant irreverence.” At its most basic level it refers to speaking evil about the Holy Spirit. One Bible dictionary puts it like this: “To speak reproachfully, to rail at, to revile.” These are deeply disturbing words.
So what is the unforgivable sin? Is it taking God’s name in vain? Is it yelling at Him or murder or adultery or refusing to eat cheese Quiche?
No. The unforgivable sin is attributing the miracle working power of Jesus to satan. The scribes witnessed undeniable exorcisms and instead of giving glory to the Holy Spirit they claimed that He was possessed by Beelzebub. The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is accusing Jesus of being demon possessed.
I like how Matt Chandler puts it: “The blasphemy of the Spirit is the knowledgeable, willful and continued rebellion against the ministry of the Holy Spirit.” Sam Storms adds, “It is not a careless act but a calloused attitude…it is not mere denial, but determined denial; not mere rejection, but wanton, willful, wicked, wide-eyed rejection.” It’s a deliberate refusal of the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 30 tells us why this person never has forgiveness and is guilty of an eternal sin: because they said, “He has an unclean spirit. Notice that they continued, or persisted in “saying.” This was not a one-time thing but rather an ongoing, fixed and settled attitude in their minds that came out of the mouths.
WHOSE YOUR MOMMA?
MARK 3: 31-35
Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.”33 But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”
So, Whose your Momma? The easy answer is the woman who gave birth to me. But is there more? Whose: belonging to or associated with which person… I don’t want to take away from the need to be good children and honor our biological mothers, but I also believe it is important to realize that we also have other mothers. Some of them are not related to us. Some of them may not even have children of their own. However, if we are part of the family of God and they are part of the family of God then they are our mothers. They ought to be treated with the same honor and respect as we treat our own physical mothers.
Now For Some Takeaways
Here are some takeaways from our text.
1. Always consider the context. The unforgivable sin is ascribing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit.
2. Christians cannot commit this sin. If you are truly saved, then you are truly secure. When you believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life, then you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-12: “And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
3. If you worry that you’ve committed the unforgivable sin, you haven’t. If you’re mourning and grieving and anxious about sin, it means that the Holy Spirit is active in your life.
4. Satan wants to steal your hope and joy. He wants you to think you’ve gone too far to be saved. He wants you to swim with shame and to be gutted by guilt.
5. This is a warning to those persisting in unbelief. Perhaps you’ve been languishing under true guilt.
Conviction is a good thing if it leads you to commitment. You are a sinner and if you have not repented and received Jesus Christ, you will not be forgiven. The good news is that God is ready to forgive each and every one of your sins. Don’t put off a decision to follow Christ. One could say that the only unpardonable sin today is that of continued unbelief. If you die in a state of disbelief, your sins will not be forgiven and you will pay the price for them forever in a place of everlasting destruction called hell with the devil and all his demons!
Let’s go back to the verse we skipped and unpack the freedom found in verse 28: Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter. If verse 29 is the bad news, verse 28 is the good news. Most people rush past this part of the passage when discussing the unforgivable sin.
• This is the truth. When Jesus uses the word, “assuredly,” “truly” or “verily,” He is stating that what He is about to say is commanding, unconditional, and unfailing. It’s like He’s saying, “listen!”
• This is powerful. Next He uses the pronoun “I say…” to show that He has no need to quote someone else. He’s saying, “Listen to Me, I’m LORD!”
• This has to become personal. And then He personalizes it by saying, “assuredly, I say to you…” This message is for you right now.
Notice next that, “all sins will be forgiven” and “whatever blasphemies.” The words “all” and “whatever” in the Greek mean “all” and “whatever.” The idea is that all manner or types of sin will be forgiven. All sinful behaviors and slanderous blasphemies against God can be blotted out! Listen to a verse from the Old Testament and a verse from the New:
• Isaiah 1:18: Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
• 1 John 1:7: “…and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Through faith in Jesus Christ, you can be forgiven! Satan would like nothing more than to have you believe that your sins will never be forgiven. But if you know Jesus, your sins are forgiven.
But if you die in your sins, you will never be forgiven. No second chance. No do over’s. No purgatory. Hebrews 2:3: How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?