Lord of the Sabbath – Mark 3:20-35

Early in his ministry, Jesus is in Galilee. He has driven out demons, evil spirits (cured people of diseases that were, or were thought to be, psychiatric). V. 19b tells us “he went home”. Crowds have swarmed around him, curious; now they do so again. So many seek help that “they could not even eat” (v.20). Some mistake his enthusiasm for his mission as insanity, so much so that his blood “family” (v.21, including his disciples) try to “restrain him”

Word has reached “Jerusalem” (v.22); scribes say that he is possessed by a demon, “Beelzebul”, a foreign god, and by Satan, the devil, the “ruler of evil spirits”. Jesus answers them in “parables” (v. 23), analogies). It is logically impossible for Satan to cast out Satan. Since Jesus’ exorcisms are defeats for Satan, they could hardly be performed through Satan. If Satan’s realm (“kingdom”, v.24) is divided – some demonizing people and others removing evil  spirits – it would cease to be, as would a “house” (v.25, a building or those who live in it). V.26 puts this plainly. Then v.27: to rob the house of a strong, powerful, man would require a stronger, more powerful man. In 1:7, John the Baptizer has called Jesus “more powerful”, so Jesus speaks of himself: he is beginning to eliminate Satan.

“Truly” (v.28) shows that Jesus speaks with authority. In his baptism, the Holy Spirit came to Jesus, so it is in his words and actions .One blasphemes if  one claims that Jesus’ authority is from Satan rather than from the Spirit. All sins, however heinous, will be forgiven, except believing that the spirit in Jesus is “an unclean spirit” (v.30) from Satan: this sin will stand forever(“eternal), v.29).

Mark employs a sandwich construction: vv. 19-21 are one slice of bread, vv.22-30 the meat, and vv. 31-35 the other slice. We return to Jesus’ house. He is inside; his blood family and the crowd are outside the open door. Jesus considers all who do the will of God (v.35), including recognizing that he heals through the Holy Spirit, to be his family.

© 1996-2024 Chris Haslam

.Blessings, Reverend Lyndon

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, give us such a vision of your purpose, and such an assurance of your love and power, that we may ever hold fast the hope which is in Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of  the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.