Monday, January 5, 2009

Mark 3 -- Troublesome Passages

Mark 3 begins with Jesus continuing to be a rule breaker. This time the defiance of the religious leaders is very much in your face. The man with the deformed hand is brought in front of everyone, and then Jesus looks right at the religious leaders to question them about doing good or harm on the Sabbath. Not getting an answer, which was in fact an answer, Jesus heals the man. This obviously sent the religious leaders into a tizzy and seemed to build Jesus resolution to do the work he was sent to do.

After the confrontational healing, Jesus selects the twelve that will be his closest companions. We are all called to be disciples, these were called to be the Apostles, the twelve who would lead the rest of the disciples once Jesus was seated at the Throne. I always find it interesting that Judas is selected. It was known even at this point of selection Judas would be the one to betray the Lord.

The next section is the one where things get more difficult. Jesus is accused by the religious leaders of being from Satan. To respond Jesus uses some good logic about a house divided against itself, Abe Lincoln didn't make it up. Then Jesus shares one of the more difficult passages of scripture, "anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, It is an eternal sin."(v29) That it tough stuff, what does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Essential Jesus is chalking up another claim against the religious leaders. Throughout the book of Mark to this point all they have done is scoff at the grace of God and the work of God in people's lives. In Chapter three they go as far as to say the work of God is really the work of Satan. There you have it. When the true and authentic work from God is called the work of Satan, the Holy Spirit has been blasphemed. I have heard it said if you are wondering if you have committed such a sin you are safe. The religious leaders who Jesus was directing these comments toward, really believed Jesus to be doing the work of evil, because he was operating outside of their religious playbook. Their hearts were so hard they could not see the work of God as that.

Once we make it through that passage we come across a passage which is equally as challenging. Verses 31-35 do not exactly sound like the voice of family values. The lines of family are blurred in this brief teaching of Jesus. It is not exactly what we expect to hear. I am as much in favor of being a spiritual leader to my family first as the next person. Yet, the teachings of Jesus here might be warning that we can make too much of this. Other places in scripture warn about the need to manage our families well, but I think Jesus is warning about over identifying with our family. Our primary identity is not found in our earthly family, rather in the family of God. Therefore, all the people of God are our family.

The context of this cannot be overlooked either. Jesus family had just come to take him home because he was "out of his mind." (v21). At that point I wonder if Jesus knew they were not there to participate in the work of God he had been sent to do. I wonder if he knew they only wanted to see him so they could try to silence him and keep him from being an embarrassment to the family. At this point of his ministry, his family was not part of those who followed. It seems even Mary has lost sight of who Jesus is. Perhaps that is where Jesus teaching comes from.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate. My family was not very receptive when I first started following Jesus, for real. For the last ten years, almost to the day, I have struggled with my families indifference and my own identity with them.

    I lost a lot of friends when I accepted Jesus and I would do it again. As sad as it is, Jesus is worth every sacrifice.