Hard Sayings

Mark 3:20-35

Message #10

Mark is still in the same vein he’s been in the past three messages – which is graphically showing us who was following Jesus for the wrong reasons (crowds), who was truly set against Jesus (religious elite), and who was truly for Jesus (Disciples).

Mark has been showing us for four messages (including today’s) that Jesus was drawing a very clear line in the sand. Are we truly for Jesus, or not? Are we willing to truly stand with him, or not? And we see it again today as we look at two hard sayings of Jesus, and again today, we get to decide which side of that line in the sand we are on.

Mark starts today with a scene-setting verse in verse 20. But then, verse 21 actually goes with our second hard saying that starts down in verse 31. It’s a thing that Mark does, called “sandwiching.” So, just stay with me and we’ll put it all together.

Mark 3:20 (NLT)
20 One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 

This verse sets the scene. Jesus is probably in Capernaum, probably at Peter’s house again, and the ministry is getting more and more intense, and the crowds are more and more pressing in, to the point that Jesus and the Disciples couldn’t even find time to eat – which will come up again in our second hard saying.

But first, we’re going to skip verse 21 (second hard saying) and go to our first hard saying that starts in verse 22. The Gospel of Matthew says that at this point, Jesus cast out a demon from a possessed man who was both blind and couldn’t speak. And in response to that we read:

Mark 3:22 (NLT)
22 But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” 

How do you think it’s going to go for the religious leaders to accuse the Son of God of being possessed by Satan? These guys are relentless in their efforts to remove the one they don’t realize is their Messiah. But this time they’ve gone too far.

And not only is Jesus going to shut them down again. But he is also going to issue one of the scariest warnings in all of the New Testament. The warning of the “unforgivable sin.” So, look closely at the accusation in verse 22, because this is what leads to the warning about the “unforgivable sin,”

(again) Mark 3:22(b) (NLT) . . . “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”

This crosses the line in accusations against Jesus. So, Mark 3:23,

Mark 3:23(a) (NLT)
23 Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration . . .

So, Jesus is going to give a great illustration in order to shut this ridiculous accusation down, and then he’s going to issue a very scary warning that is about this accusation.

Mark 3:23(b)-26 (NLT)
23 . . . “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. 
(which is what they’re accusing him of)
24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse.
25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.
26 And 
(so) if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. 

And then Jesus makes it clear in Mark 3:27,

Mark 3:27 (NLT)
27 Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man 
(Satan) and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger (Jesus)—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house. 

Jesus makes this powerful argument to prove that he is absolutely Lord over the entire Spiritual realm, including the demonic realm. In fact, in this same teaching in Matthew 12:28, Jesus says:

Matthew 12:28 (NLT)
28 But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. 

This is what the religious leaders and the people are actually witnessing. The Kingdom of God – in the Person of Jesus Christ – has come into your midst. The miracles of God and the power of the Holy Spirit are on display, and it is how the religious leaders are responding to that truth that brings the warning of the unforgivable sin.

The Son of God is standing in front of these people, miraculously proving who he is with the power of the Holy Spirit bringing the conviction of the truth. And how these people respond to that proof and the conviction of the Holy Spirit is what brings the warning of the unforgivable sin.

The unforgivable sin is something believers often worry about, and some believers fear they may have even committed. But listen to me, please. Jesus is not speaking to believers. He is speaking completely and exclusively to unbelievers.

Here is hard saying number one. The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Remember, Jesus is responding to the religious leaders accusing him of being possessed by Satan. Here is his response in Mark 3:28-29.

Mark 3:28-29 (NLT)
28 “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven
(don’t miss that promise – it’s a good one),
29 but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” 

Then verse 30 gives us the answer to the question what does this “unforgivable sin” look like? Here’s your answer – Mark 3:30.

Mark 3:30 (NLT)
30 He told them this 
(the unforgivable sin warning) because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.” 

The religious leaders witnessed the proof of the power of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ over both the physical and spiritual realms. And the Holy Spirit was “at work” convincing and convicting them that they were witnessing the work of God in Jesus Christ. And the religious leaders, more and more, aggressively denied and fought against all of that proof and conviction of who Jesus Christ was. Do you see it?

So, how is it that we can commit this same sin? It is something we should be very concerned about – not for us if we are believers, but for others who are not believers.

Jesus was saying to the religious leaders that their hearts were becoming so hard toward him and their rejection of him was becoming so aggressive that they were on the verge – or already in a place – of not being able to turn back from their hardened unbelief and their permanent rejection of Jesus.

And guys, unbelievers can get to this same place today. John 16:8 says the Holy Spirit is here today, convicting the world of sin, of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.

Jesus Christ is present in this world today with the power of the Holy Spirit convincing and convicting and if our heart becomes so hard to the conviction of the Holy Spirit that we reject and reject and continue to reject the truth of God that he is convincing us of. Then, ultimately that permanent rejection becomes hardened unbelief, and that becomes the unforgivable sin.

But if you are in rejection and unbelief today and you are still drawing breath, then there is still hope for you to receive forgiveness because you can change your rejection and unbelief – right now. Forgiveness comes through believing and receiving Jesus Christ. Believing that he is who he says he is and receiving him as your personal Savior and Lord, which you can still do today.

But, if you maintain your hardened unbelief and permanent rejection of Jesus Christ, then there is no way for God to forgive you. That is a hard saying, and one we must take super seriously. Okay, everybody got that one?

The clear answer that some believers need to hear is this. If you are a true believer and have received Jesus Christ into your life, then you cannot commit the unforgivable sin, because John 5:24 says You have already PASSED – From DEATH into LIFE.

Okay, we do have a second hard saying we have to address today, can you handle it?
Look back at Mark 3:20. It says Jesus couldn’t even find time to EAT. Then Mark 3:21 says:

Mark 3:21 (NLT)
21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.

A little less offensive than what the Scribes and Pharisees were saying, but still pretty offensive coming from his own family. Jesus’ family, including the mother of Jesus, were all saying he is “out of his mind.” I read the official Catholic “defense of the church” website this week which clearly says that Mary was free from sin and divinely united with Christ in his salvation work except for that one time when she thought he was “out of his mind.”

So, Mary and the rest of the family all thought Jesus was “out of his mind.” And then we read in Mark 3:31.

Mark 3:31 (NLT)
31 Then Jesus’ mother (Mary) and brothers
(most probably Mary’s other children) came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. 

Their intention (clearly) was to take Jesus back to Nazareth so he would stop making a fool out of himself with all this Messiah talk. The hard saying starts in Mark 3:32-35.

Mark 3:32-35 (NLT)
32 There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”
(here’s the hard saying) Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers.
35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” 

That is the hard saying. But Jesus was not disrespecting his family or his mother even though they all thought he was crazy. Jesus was making his mission clear.

The Pharisees had just accused Jesus of being possessed by Satan, and now his own family is accusing him of being out of his mind. Jesus was setting some stuff straight in these two hard sayings.

Jesus could not allow his mother and brothers to make a scene by trying to drag him off to Nazareth in some kind of public intervention. So, Jesus couldn’t go outside because he knew what they were planning to do. Even though they thought Jesus was making a fool of himself, he didn’t want them to make fools of themselves by trying to drag the Lord of Creation by the ear back home.

So instead, Jesus used their misguided visit to teach a radical lesson in discipleship. In Jesus Christ – God is doing something radical. He is starting a new heavenly family; a new holy people and he’s doing it without regard for where you’ve come from or your previously family bonds.

John 1:12–13 (NLT)
12 But to all who believed [in Jesus] and accepted
(received) him, he gave the right to become children of God.
13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. 

Jesus used his own family’s misunderstanding of who he was to make it clear that you and I can join the family of God today.

They wanted to hide Jesus inside his own family. But Jesus wanted them and us to join God’s new family. And Jesus is using these hard sayings to help us not miss the opportunity to do just that. Jesus was making a huge point in both of these hard sayings. He was drawing a clear “line in the sand.”

The question is, are we standing truly with Jesus, the Lord of Heaven and Earth as born-again children of God with a new life, a new spiritual family, and a new eternity?
Or, are we standing with either the religious leaders of that day, denying him no matter what, or are we standing with his family who are (at least at this point) accusing him of being out of his mind?

That is the challenge Mark has been issuing in these last four messages (including today). Are we truly standing with Jesus – or not? And no matter where you’re at, you can be standing with Jesus – today.

I mentioned John 5:24 earlier, but let me read the entire verse.

John 5:24 (NLT)
24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. 

You can pass from death into life today. Make a commitment today to believe that Jesus Christ is who he says he is and receive him into your life as your Savior and Lord.