Mark 3:7-35 (AD 28)
Strange as it is to say, Jesus gets a bad rep with some people for what is perceived as a harsh treatment of his mother and brothers when they called for him in verse thirty-one. They just wanted to see him, people say, why does he have to dismiss them like that and say that everyone who does God’s will is his family?
But they didn’t visit him for lunch or to hang out. Rather, “they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind’” (v.21). The immediate context doesn’t tell us why they thought that, but they would have been aware that people were already trying to kill Jesus because of his claims to be God, his trashing of the Pharisees and culturally dubious openness to Samaritans. That was more than enough to make them worried not just about him, but for their own safety.
So at this point we have his family thinking he’s crazy and the Pharisees thinking he’s Satanic, which covers two of the three possibilities, given Jesus’ claims. Either one of those two groups had to have been right, or the only other possibility is that Jesus was right, which is what much of the gospels focus on – who Jesus was.
Jesus focused his rebuttal on the Pharisees claims, pointing out – not for the last time – that the idea he was from Satan doesn’t make sense given that he was casting out demons. As he explained that, and in response to the accusation of his having an ‘impure spirit’ he warned, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin” (v.30).
What did he mean? Bear in mind that King David’s adultery and murder is forgiven, apostle Paul’s murderous persecution of Jesus and his church is forgiven and Peter’s denying Jesus three times is also forgiven. No single act could out-evil what Paul did, for example – after all, Jesus specifically said that Paul was persecuting HIM.
It seems likely, therefore, that the references is to an ongoing, willful and deliberate attribution of the works of God himself to Satan. This wasn’t a confusion or misunderstanding. Jesus’ frankly obvious rebuttal of their accusation shows the extent to which they were not struggling to believe, but refusing to, and becoming a zealous enemy of God instead. That attitude – on a continuous basis – cut themselves off from God.
Being Jesus gave him a bad reputation. Being a Christian, for most of history and increasingly now, gives you a bad reputation. The lifestyle of a Christian is not a refuge – only he himself is a refuge. So at the start of every day in your praying and as you set your mind to what the day holds, go to him. Like the disciples in verse thirteen, even if it feels like you have to slog up a mountainside to get there, your Saviour wants you; just go to him.