The Gospel of Mark – Part 13
Mistaken Identity – Mark 3:20-30
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Sept. 29th, 2019
- The whole book of Mark deals with the question of the identity of Jesus. Mark starts his Gospel with his assertion: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1 ESV). Mark gives us his conclusion from the opening line. The whole book in what it records is given to help the reader understand the truth of his opening statement.
- The question is asked outright in the middle of the book, when Jesus asks, “Who do people say that I am?” and then more pointed, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-29). Peter puts forth his answer by saying, “You are the Christ.”
- After this point, this Gospel then turns it’s focus toward Jesus’ death and resurrection as Jesus tells His disciples three times what is going to happen. Mark records what, indeed, did happen, including the confession and conclusion of the centurion at the crucifixion of Jesus, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39 ESV).
- This Gospel’s main focus is to reveal the identity of Jesus from first to last. As we continue our study in this book, keep this question firmly in your mind. The aim and hope of this book, and the aim and hope of all of these messages, is that you will understand who Jesus truly is, that you will firmly place your belief and trust in Him, and that you would commit your life to knowing Him, becoming like Him by following in His footsteps and making Him known to the rest of the world.
- Up to this point in the text, Mark has been giving us example after example of the teachings and activities of Jesus. People were amazed at all the things that Jesus was teaching and doing and they came after Him from all around to listen to Him, to see Him, to touch Him, and to follow Him. Some were desperate, some were curious, some were committed, and some were critical of Him. All of them had to draw a conclusion as to who they thought He was.
- As we pointed out last week, there were so many demands and so many people coming after Him that He was in danger of being crushed by the crowds. He has means of separation by the sea and spent time alone in prayer. He then selected and choose the 12 apostles to come to Him so He could spend time with them and send them out.
- Now His family, His Mother and His siblings (presumably Joseph had died at this time) were also in process about who He was based upon what they observed and knew at this point in His ministry. They thought that He was “out of his mind.” And this is of the choices we have a well in understanding His identity. So one choice is that Jesus is crazy.
Jesus is crazy
Mark 3:20-21 ESV
Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
- After Jesus was on the mountain and had chosen the 12 apostles, He went back to His “home” (which was more than likely the house of Peter and Andrew in Capernaum). The people again found out where He was, and they came to Him. There were so many people crowding around that they could not even eat.
- Jesus’s family heard about what was going on with Him, and presumably out of love, concern and responsibility, they determined that they were going to “seize him” – that is to forcibly stop and arrest Him, because they thought that he was “out of his mind.”
- Apparently, they thought that Jesus was taking His religion “way too seriously” and that He was getting out of reasonable bounds and entered into the land of the loony. It was acceptable to read the Torah (Old Testament Bible) and go to the Synagogue (church) on Saturday, but Jesus had taken it too far. He gave up a good trade as a carpenter, He was not staying with the family in the small town or taking and wife and doing what was “sane, rational and expected.” He left all this, spent 40 days by himself in the wilderness not eating, then He traveled around calling people to follow Him as He brought “new religious teaching” to the people. Now, granted, miraculous things were happening, people were getting healed and delivered, but this whole thing was getting out of hand and going on way too long. People were talking about Him, and He had made some powerful enemies. Now His physical life was in jeopardy and He was not taking very good care of Himself. They thought that He needed help by stopping Him and bringing Him back to his senses.
- Have you ever thought that God was crazy? That you had to help him out by stopping what He was doing and talking sense into Him? Or have people tried to stop you in what you were doing and questioned your sanity thinking that you have taken your “religion” too far? If Jesus is crazy then we are crazy as well to believe Him and follow Him, but if He is not crazy and He is telling the truth about His identity, more than likely we have not gone too far, but have not gone far enough.
- The next conclusion that could be drawn about Jesus is that He was possessed by the devil himself, that this was the source of His power.
Jesus is possessed
Mark 3:22-27 ESV
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
- The religious leaders came down (literally and figuratively) from Jerusalem to Capernaum and concluded that Jesus was not crazy, but even worse, that He was possessed by the devil himself. That the great deceiver had taken possession of Him and that Satan was the inspiration and power within Jesus. There had to be an explanation for His supernatural teaching and power. The thought that there was no way that He was from God, because He did not teach and act according to their thoughts and traditions. Therefore, His supernatural source of power had to come from a different source. So, they concluded that this was not the work of God, but the work of the devil. Which made Jesus a tool of the Devil and a demon-possessed deceiver.
- Jesus did not simply say “you’re wrong” or “I am the Son of God” or just destroyed them by His power. If He would have said these things, they would have not believed Him, and in bringing wrath and judgment on them, would not be in line with His mission at this time. So He told them a parable and asked them a question that dismantled the logic behind their conclusion of His identity.
- He asked them, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” with the logic that follows: if a kingdom or a house is divided against itself, it will not stand but come to an end. Why would a “kingdom” or a “house” intentionally destroy itself? Why would He work against his own objectives? (Also, in saying these things, Jesus verified the existence of Satan and his kingdom).
- Then Jesus goes on to give them some more logic saying that you can’t go into a “house” and take the positions unless you “bind” the strong man. What Jesus was saying was that He was stronger than the “strong man” (Satan) that He (Jesus) has bound him (Satan) and was plundering his house, that is freeing those that were possessed by Satan. This is the only logical conclusion, that Jesus is greater than and stronger than Satan and that He had the power and ability to bind him and set the prisoners free. He still did not tell them who He was, but corrected their conclusion that He was possessed and used by the devil. And then Jesus went further and turned the table on them.
Mark 3:28-30 ESV
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
- Jesus was saying that all the things that people do will be forgiven when people repent and ask for forgiveness . . . (which gives us great hope, honor and devotion to Jesus), but to those who speak evil and resist the work of the Holy Spirit on their life, those who resist His conviction of sin and revealing the truth of Jesus Christ, those people cannot be forgiven because they have rejected Christ. The “unforgiveable” sin is the sin of not receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
- Jesus took this whole thing to the next level and went to the heart of the problem with those who were accusing and resisting them. Not only were they getting Him wrong, but they were eternally condemning themselves. Their response to Jesus, our response to Jesus and everyone’s response to Jesus has eternal significance and getting Jesus right is they most important thing you will ever do.
- You have some options: Jesus is either a crazy lunatic, He is a demonized deceiver, or He is Lord of all creation. Let’s look at the third option, that Jesus is the Christ.
Jesus is the Christ
- C.S. Lewis, a professor in English literature at both Oxford University and Cambridge University who was also an Atheist who became a greatly influential Christian, wrote in his book, Mere Christianity (I book I strongly recommend to you, one that helped me personally):
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
- All creation itself, all the things that we can touch, see, hear and experience, and the fact that we can experience them, all that there is points to a creator God. The words recorded for us in the word of God by the people of God directed by the Holy Spirit of God reveal to us who this creator God is. What was written in times past point to, predict and prophesy with precise accuracy to the Son of God. Then the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and taught us, and did things that only God could do. He lived perfectly without sin and took the wrath of God for our sin upon Himself. He was raised to life, breaking the power of sin and death making way for all to be forgiven of their sin and have eternal life by believing in Him. He gave us His Holy Spirit to help us and empower us to transform us into His image and to bring the good news to all those who are bound in darkness to all the world. He gave us His promise of what was to come and said that He would be back again in all His glory, justice and reward to be with Him.
- So, who do you say that He is, and what are you going to do with this man called Jesus? Is He a “good moral teacher,” is He a lunatic, Is He a liar or is He the Lord? If you have been convinced of this today and would like to put your trust in Him today and ask for the forgiveness of your sins, raise your hand and we will pray together at the conclusion of the service.
- If you have been convinced in the past and have chosen to put your trust in Him already, please take who He is and His words to heart and give yourself completely over to Him with all of your mind, heart, soul and strength. Live fully for the one who died for you, giving yourself fully to the obedience of faith, for the sake of His name among all the nations.