The Unpardonable Interpretation

It never ceases to amaze me how interpreting the Bible can contradict the direct interpretation the Bible has already given. There are enough difficult passages in both Testaments that require careful analysis and the proper process of asking the right questions.  But when the Bible interprets itself, does not that indicate the proper way to look at a given text.

The question from today’s text is this, “What is the sin of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?” I’ve read articles, heard sermons, read commentaries and the spectrum of answers is quite amazing.

As Jesus is conducting his ministry, centred in Galilee, we saw in the last post how his family arrived to ‘intervene,’ to ‘take charge’ of him.  Before Mark develops the response of Jesus to his blood relatives any further, he describes another encounter, further opposition to the true work of ministry in which he was engaged.

“And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said,….” As his popularity increased so did his opposition. Word was spreading across the nation and the ‘religious leaders’ were ‘righteously’ indignant.  Can you imagine the discussion in this travelling band of religious scholars? I think I can.  I’ve travelled to conferences and seminars with other pastoral leaders and the topics we’ve discussed barely fit into the van in which we travelled!

This group had come down to check out the situation.  Miracles were happening, absolutely, but who was behind them–that was the issue!  Their conclusion – the power behind Jesus Christ was demonic!  Demon possession, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, explained the miraculous working power which was evidenced.  

How did Jesus respond to this accusation? This was a serious charge that required a response.  He spoke to them in ‘parables.’  He used a teaching technique of embedding truth in an illustration, which elsewhere in the gospels, he explains as hiding the truth from callous hearts. (Matthew 13:13-15).  

Here in Mark’s account he presses his critics with a question – “How can Satan drive out Satan?” What would Beelzebub accomplish if he delivered a person only to repossess them? Jesus continued, “If a kingdom is divided or a house is divided, it will not be able to stand.” Satan is not about to shut down his own kingdom of darkness and unrighteousness.  Armed houses may only be robbed when the strong men who guard them are bound up with great effort.

He then moves to his clear verdict.  These teachers of the law had sinned.  Their callous hearts had yielded to the temptation of the devil to malign the work of the Son of God.  Forgiveness was not possible for such ongoing resistance.  Here was the Son of God, performing miracles by the power of the Spirit of God to the glory of God the Father.  To suggest that the demonic was motivating him was an act of high treason.  It was a blatant rejection of the Spirit of God who rested on Jesus throughout His entire ministry.   Read Acts 10:38 and see the power by which Jesus operated.

To settle the matter, Mark, the divinely inspired writer of this text, interprets this event.  He writes, “He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit.'” The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit had just been committed by these religious people.  Faced with the direct evidence of the Spirit of God’s anointing of the Son of God and enabling to perform miraculous powers, they had credited the motivation to Satan.  The spiritual warfare in the text is subtle but strong.

Revelation 12, which so dramatically portrays the conflict between Jesus Christ and Satan, pictures Satan as being enraged. This volley of evil in Mark 3 was only one skirmish in the battle which Jesus Christ would triumphantly win.  Today, Christ followers are able to resist the devil, because of the finished work of the One who consistently resisted him.  By the Spirit of God, we follow the Son of God and allow Him to tie up any remaining issues which are leftover from our years of following Satan’s marching orders.

Read Matthew 12:22-37 and follow the conclusive proof that the kingdom of God really came (v.28) in power as the Son of God moved by the Spirit of God established the reign of the true King.

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