Friday, 26 January 2024 The Rev’d Dr David Whiting

Friday, 26 January 2024

 

St Mark 3: 21 – 30

Then he went home;  and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.  When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’  And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’  And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.  And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.  But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. ‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter;  but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’—  for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’

Reflection

In many ways I find this a tricky passage. As someone in this current age I find the casting out of demons difficult to deal with. In this passage we learn all about the unforgivable sin and I have found that difficult as well. In some ways I would rather ignore the passage but I cannot for it tells us something about the nature of Jesus.

Jesus is popular with the crowds, but his family have a different attitude, they regard him as being out of his mind. The scribes on the other hand think Jesus is in league with the devil, and this gives him the power to cast out demons.

Jesus has his defence, a perfectly logical defence. He asks: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan?’ and he goes on to spell out the consequences of such a division, it means the end of Satan.

The point is that Jesus sets himself up against those things that destroy and deny our humanity. He has set himself up against those things that would prevent us from living the life God intends for us. He is binding the strong man.

Jesus goes on to speak about forgiveness, that people will be forgiven their sins and they will be forgiven their blasphemies. This is the Jesus we know, the one who offers forgiveness and is accused of blasphemy as a consequence (Mark 2:7). Then we move onto the unforgivable sin. I wonder what it is all about?

When I was young, I used to fret about the unforgivable sin, had I committed it without realising. Taking it in the context of this passage I had no reason to worry. The target of Jesus’ words are those who have seen the work of God and labelled it as the work of the devil. It is someone who confuses good with evil and truth with falseness and will not see things as otherwise. We are not to be troubled by fear that we have committed the unforgivable sin.

Prayer

Merciful God,

You know us through and through,
You know our strengths and our weaknesses.
Forgive us when we get things wrong,
Forgive when we are fearful,
And we allow those fears to control us.
Forgive us when we label and reject others,
Because they are different.
Forgive us when we are compromised by our prejudices,

Merciful God,
There is forgiveness with you,
Through Christ may our fears be overcome.

Amen

 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d  Dr David Whiting, Retired Minister living in Sunderland

 

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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