give them credit, the enemies of Jesus never saw him as a man who gave room for
indecision. You were either for him or against him. The reactions to Jesus,
logical and illogical, we shall see in this chapter.
The Holy Bible, New
1Another time he went into the
synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so
they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to
save life or to kill?” But they remained
5He looked around at them in anger
and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He
stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the
Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
7Jesus withdrew with his disciples
to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him
from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around
Tyre and Sidon. 9Because of the
crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the
people from crowding him. 10For he
had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.
11Whenever the evil£ spirits
saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.
13Jesus went up on a mountainside
and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14He appointed twelve—designating them apostles£—that
they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15and to have authority to drive out demons. 16These
are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave
the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of
Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
20Then Jesus entered a house, and
again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.
21When his family heard about this,
they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22And the teachers of the law who
came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub£! By the
prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
23So Jesus called them and spoke to
them in parables: “How can Satan drive out
Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided
against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot
stand. 26And if Satan opposes himself
and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off
his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his
house. 28I tell you the truth, all
the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be
forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”
30He said this because they were
saying, “He has an evil spirit.”
31Then Jesus’ mother and brothers
arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your
mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34Then he looked at those seated in
a circle around him and said, “Here are my
mother and my brothers! 35Whoever
does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3:1 through Mark 3:35 (NIV)
Some people, while intending the best, simply do
misunderstand Jesus. They don’t “get it.” For such people Jesus provides
logical argument. Indeed, it is hard to see how to miss the logic, for Christ
is (as C. S. Lewis cogently put it), “liar, lunatic or Lord.”
The man is insane
worth noting that this is no academic or learned judgment. One can almost
picture Mary – note the circumstances; she had heard that the boy wasn’t
eating right – thought he must be insane. (I suspect my mother might have the
same reaction with me, if I gave up eating). The answer to such an argument is
simply to examine the facts.
his words. Do these sound like the words of a raving lunatic? No, they
are the words of a man deeply in touch with God. They flow with
shrewdness at times; deep sorrow at others – indeed, there is no
shallowness in the entire canon. So the man is eminently sane.
you read who he claims to be – God in the flesh; the Son of God. But to
quote that eminent psychiatrist, Leo Durocher, “it ain’t braggin’ if you
can do it.” Upon his teaching you must proclaim him sane; therefore, you
must consider his claim to be God in the same light.
The man is demon possessed
an argument you hear much in logical, modern circles – for we don’t, in
general, believe in demons. But the people of this time certainly knew them,
and knew them as fact, not just abstract belief. The evidence is still
available in third world countries.
does not condemn these people for this. The fact that he conducts logical
argument with them (instead of starting out, “You hypocrites!”) tells us that
they were sincere. They were also sincerely wrong. And it does matter what
argument is quite simple. If Satan is going around throwing out demons, it’s
an act of self-destruction. Not likely, that. But if it’s not Satan, then
who’s doing the throwing? Only one who is stronger than Satan. That narrows
the field a bit.
What to do about it
as Christians, may meet with honest doubt. This should be an occasion for joy,
for true honest doubt is susceptible to fact. We should take the example of
he is patient with such souls. He does not condemn them for lack of
understanding or knowledge; he enlightens them. Sometimes it takes a
while, but his mercy (and his patience) endure forever.
it all, he maintains his insistence on who He is. There is no
suggestion of compromise. It is eternally important that we decide: just
who is this Jesus of Nazareth? Indeed, it may well be argued that along
side this, there are no other questions.
In acknowledging and living by the true answer to that question there is
Those who understand
is complicated. It is complicated often enough by those who understand
perfectly; they just don’t like the answer given. It’s not politically
correct; so we’ll just change the definition of truth. Jesus treats such very
Demons and terror
interesting to note that the agents of Satan, the demons, immediately begin to
announce who Jesus is – and that Jesus immediately tells them to shut up. The
principle is simple: when dealing with those who know the truth and have
chosen to live in opposition to it, there can be neither compromise nor
coalition. As the Psalmist records God saying it,
The Holy Bible, New
16 But to the wicked, God says:
“What right have you to recite my laws
or take my covenant on your lips?
Psalm 50:16 (NIV)
Sometimes you just have to draw
the line in the sand.
Pharisees and pride
do we see one so far gone in evil as to require that (though it does happen).
It is more common to see the form of righteousness which denies the power of
righteousness. These are the Pharisees in this day; their distinguishing
characteristic is pride. It will serve to mark those with the same problem
today. Christ does not honor their righteousness.
he is grieved at the stubbornness of their hearts. The matter is one of
will. Either a man will attempt to rule his own life, or give it over to
God. There is no middle ground. Pride can be used to produce a form of
righteousness – but it is still a sin.
is angry at them, for they are the wicked. God’s wrath is his permanent
attitude towards those who defy him – even while using his name.
think that pride is OK? Look what it drives these men to do. It pushes them
into an unholy coalition. They are the keepers of the law, in detail. They
make alliance with a political party (think of every hack politician you’ve
ever known). They make common cause with men who disgust them.
objective of that alliance? Pious murder.
The unforgivable sin
brings us to a topic that has puzzled Christians for generations: the
unforgivable sin. Just what is it? It is “blasphemy against the Holy
Spirit.” Note, please, that blasphemy against Jesus can be forgiven. Why then
is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit unforgivable?
it’s easiest to understand from a step by step, process point of view. No
matter how you construct the path to salvation (many people have much to say
about this) there is one step which is included in everyone’s short list of
steps: repentance. Consider, then, that the work of the Holy Spirit is to
convict the world of sin and judgment – which is certainly preliminary to
repentance. One does not repent if there is no sin; there is no need. One
would not repent if there were no judgment; for there would be no consequences
to sin. So if you will not repent, you are (in effect) saying that sin or
judgment (or both) are not real – which the Holy Spirit (the spirit of truth)
affirms. No conviction, no repentance. No repentance, no salvation.
The great divide
confronted with “lunatic, liar or Lord” the world looks for another option.
It’s worth our time to confront some of these and expose them for what they
A sharp pointed stake fence
did not intend for us to have a middle ground. He did not intend for us to
regard him as a “great teacher” – only. His explicit claim is to be God. Two
approaches to this have been developed:
says, “what about all the other great teachers who have appeared?” Well,
to begin with, none of them claimed to be God. Jesus did. You may
examine the claims as you like; Jesus is unique. So every religion (e.g.,
Bahai) that claims this must fudge the evidence – or the process of
reasoning about it.
other says that the records must be wrong. Jesus just could not possibly
have said that. That’s the contention of the “Jesus seminar.” But see
the circular reasoning: He couldn’t have said it, so the records are
wrong. The records are wrong, he didn’t say it. (There is a reason
liberal Christianity is declining in numbers.)
may try to sit on the fence if you like. You will find it is made of sharp,
Those who follow him
for those who make the right decision, things look very different.
who follow him are those who are called. Not those who decided, in
the grandeur of their own pride, to condescend to give Jesus a little help.
Those who have received the divine call, and respond to it.
are also the wanted. We need not force our way into the kingdom of
heaven; God wants us in it. (How wonderful to be wanted somewhere!)
are called, in one way, on the mountainside. We are in the world,
but not of the world. The Christian life is indeed different. It is the
life lived close to God.
one thing is required of us: we must come to him. He will stand outside and
knock – but we must come to him. The decision must be made, not just assumed
to be there. Going to church and feeling pious is no substitute for saying,
“Yes Lord, I believe.”
Apostles were given the reward of a great work. Some of us don’t see things
quite that way, but we are part of that great work. In this life we have the
satisfaction of knowing, “I count. I’m on the team, and my work is
it is greater than that. Those who follow Christ become heirs to the kingdom
of God with him. We become brother and sister to the Son of God, and follow
him into glory.