Blaspheming the Holy Spirit
This is a difficult passage.
As a reminder, the context here is the accusation by the scribes that Jesus was possessed by Satan and cast out demons by him. (22) Jesus first answered by showing how illogical that was. Then he issued a warning: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not going to be forgiven. To be sure we got the message, Mark explains that Jesus said that because the Scribes said he had an unclean spirit.
We know that Jesus had the Holy Spirit. Mark records the Spirit descending upon Jesus. (Mark 1:10) Peter preached that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:38)
How does one blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Blasphemy generally means irreverence, defamation, or reviling. Most Protestant theologians, although they approach from different angles, end up saying this sin is to reject Jesus as the savior. Certainly, it is true that rejecting Christ or failing to believe in him does result in death. Those who do not believe in the name of the only Son of God are condemned. (John 3:17)
However, Jesus said other blasphemies would be forgiven, which would include blasphemies against himself, but not against the Spirit. Luke’s version is very specific regarding this. Luke quotes Jesus as saying that words spoken against the Son of Man will be forgiven. (Luke 12:10) But not words spoken against the Holy Spirit.
So, it must be said that reviling or defaming the Holy Spirit is a sin that is not forgiven. However, it should also be said that a believer cannot commit this sin since the Holy Spirit indwells every believer and would restrain us from committing that sin. And it is likely that one who has reached the point of blaspheming the Spirit is one who will never come to repentance and so is condemned.
Jesus’ Family Opposes Him
Jesus’ teaching regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is inserted in the middle of the story of the appearance of his family and interrupts the story. It resumes in these verses.
The story began in verse 21, when Mark records that his family went to seize him and were saying he was “out of his mind”. It appears they wanted to forcibly take him back to Nazareth and keep him from preaching and healing.
Since people at the time often believed that a person was “out of his mind” because of demon possession, their attitude, actions, and words are perilously close to those of the Scribes.
Like the scribes, Jesus’ family does not believe in him. His mother and brothers have showed up at the house in Capernaum. They were attempting to lay a claim on him. They were also attempting to keep him from his mission, as Peter would later.
However, the house was packed with people and they could not get it. So, they called to him from outside. Jesus either did not hear it or ignored it.(31)
Others in the house hear his family and inform Jesus that his mother and brothers are outside. Jesus used the occasion to teach.
He first asked who were his mother and brothers. Then he looked at those around him, who were listening to him teach. He said his family were the believers who followed him. The crowd was sitting around him in a semi-circle. So, Jesus looked at the ones around him and said here is my family, my mother, my brothers.
But then he added to the wording of the exchange. Those who do the will of God are his family, and he added the word “sister”. (35) He must have done this intentionally. It emphasized that, although most of the Jewish religion was conducted by men, Jesus’ kingdom would also be composed of women who believed and followed him. Jesus elevated the status of women.
Jesus put the family of faith above the family of flesh. This shows us that sometimes conversion creates a division. Our fleshly families do not come with us into God’s family and may even oppose it.
In another place, Jesus said:
Do not think that I have come to ring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter are than me is not worthy of me”. (Matthew 10:34-37)
Jesus was committed to do the will of the Father. Nothing deterred him from his mission. He said “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (John 14:10)
He also said “…I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love…” (John 15:10)
Jesus’ commitment to the Father’s will resulted in our salvation!
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