It didn’t take long at all. Questions turned into plotting. The Pharisees were among the question-askers of Chapter 2. Now they were looking for ways to destroy Jesus.
This chapter bounces around. We get the first formal glimpse of Jesus’ opposition. We see the crowds coming in around him. We see him picking his disciples. Then the crowds are back. And Jesus’ biological family is present, too. Then we see more opposition to Jesus. And then his biological family is back. And then Jesus makes a stunning statement about true family in the kingdom of God.
Themes and characters emerge and then fade to the background, only to re-emerge again. Jesus is the center of the action. Notice how people respond to him. Some were filled with hope. Some were filled with scheming and accusations. Some (Jesus’ biological family) weren’t happy with their wayward relative. And the disciples, well, they were present and accounted for.
For me, the strongest images were given by Jesus to the scribes who were accusing him of being a Satanist – or something like that. That could not be so, Jesus said. After all, “How can Satan cast out Satan?”
A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Neither can a house that’s divided against itself. Jesus came to build a kingdom and a house. “The kingdom of God is at hand,” he said (Mark 1:15). And when Jesus went to his own home, he was followed by crowds and observed by his family – his biological “house” – and they were divided against him. We might be tempted to think Jesus’ own house was about to fall. However, he was building a new house at that very moment – a new family among those who did the will of God. It was a house and a kingdom that never would fall.
(A quick question: Does the church family take priority over one’s biological family? Could that be an implication of Jesus’ teaching here?)
And so I wonder about this stern warning about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit – the unforgivable sin. I’ve pondered this one quite a bit over the years, as you may have as well. I know all the stock explanations, and some of them are good. The timing here is pretty clear. This came very early in the extended opposition Jesus received from the Jewish leaders. Jesus gave them an abrupt and up-front warning about what they were doing. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit – showing contempt for the Spirit, for God – was unforgivable. So be careful what you say!
Be careful what you teach.
The Holy Spirit’s mission on earth is to point to the truth of Jesus Christ (1 John 5:6). Jesus was (is) building a kingdom and a house on earth. The scribes began claiming Jesus was in league with Satan. Notice they weren’t making that claim directly to Jesus. Rather, they showed up on the scene and began telling this to others – to Jesus’ followers and his would-be followers. They were trying to tear apart the house Jesus was building.
This was not a house to be plundered. And Jesus warned them.
We have a God who has a fierce love for his children. “To save a life or to kill?” Jesus asked. No answer is needed. We know the answer. We have a God who desires to save.
And his love for us is fierce and uncompromising. And he warned away those who seek to mislead his loved ones.
A question for your day: What does it mean to you to be a brother or sister of Jesus Christ? What kind of allegiance should siblings have for one another?