As you read the narratives describing our Lord’s life, engage with the gospel accounts, and follow His journey, one thing becomes quite clear. The more He did his work, the more He taught and preached, the more opposition rose-up around Him. The coming of Christ into this world was truly the coming of light in the darkness, and while the darkness could not overcome the light, it certainly did its best to try and snuff it out. Yet, I think we tend to hear the narrative of Jesus the way we might hear any great story. We identify the antagonist and quietly hope for their downfall. We rejoice as the protagonist arrives on the scene and cheer them on to victory. It is a story that grips our attention and inspires our imagination, it is full of life lessons and perhaps even offers a better worldview in which to conduct ourselves in this age. We read as our Lord’s words are met with hate, as truth is shouted down with lies. But we know the good guys win in the end.
It is an engaging story, a powerful story, but I must confess there are too many times where I read the Word of God as a mere story. I marvel at the twists and turns, dissect the language, and dig deep into the connections displayed throughout the pages. It can become somewhat academic at times. It is like I forget there is something much bigger at stake here, there is something eternal being unfolded on those pages. What we are given in the Word of God is not just the greatest story ever told, a story of light and darkness, of life and death, of sacrifice and love. No, we are given something more than that. We are given a glimpse at the real war which is ongoing. We are given to know the reality of a spiritual battle with eternal consequences. Like the account of David and Goliath, we stand on the side and watch as our hero steps out to battle the great enemy of mankind. Not just a Philistine army promising temporal death or slavery, no, He stands in opposition to sin and every evil of mankind. He walks forward against the tide of your pride and selfishness to do what you could never do. He stands ready to go to war against the wrath of God so He might save you. This is not some quaint story; this is your deliverance.
Our Lord’s family is trying to get to Him, to pull Him back from the battlefield. They think He is out of his mind, gone too far, but the truth is he is just getting warmed up. The opposition does not just come from a concerned mother though. It might begin there but quite quickly we hear about the scribes, the teachers of the faith, who begin to level accusations at our Lord. Their charge is inflammatory. They say He is possessed by Beelzebul, and by the prince of demons He casts out demons. In other words, they are saying the works of Jesus are demonic works, His healing power is granted by the Devil, so His words should be ignored. Or perhaps, even better He ought to be silenced, once for all. What we are given in this text is a peak behind the veil to see the true nature of the battle being fought. These are not just some jealous scribes wanting to get a bigger following. They view our Lord’s work as the opposition, as evil, as something which must be ended.
Jesus, of course, dispels their accusation with relative ease. He does not give them some powerful demonstration of what He is capable of. Rather, He simply uses basic logic. “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” Makes sense, right? Satan is engaged in a battle, and he wants to win. There are eternal consequences at stake. Why would he divide himself by attacking himself? That is a sure way to secure defeat. No, says our Lord. Satan is the strong man in the house. No one simply takes his stuff, no one plunders what he possesses unless he first binds him up. This is precisely what our Lord has been doing, plundering the storehouse of Satan.
Jesus then gets to the heart of the issue. He reminds us of all of what is really at stake here. This is not just some nice story about an argument between Jesus and some scribes. It is not just about cheering Him on as He shows how dumb the scribes are. It is about something far greater than anyone realized at the time. I think He shocks us all when He says, “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-30). Forgiveness is what Jesus has come to provide and there is nothing outside of the forgiveness of our Lord. To reject Jesus, to condemn His work as Satanic, is to be found locked away in sin, imprisoned in the darkness, an eternity of darkness.
See, the battle He fights is not just about one-upmanship. It is not just a game of who can be cleverer than the next guy or who offers the best answers in the public arena. No, according to our Lord eternity itself hangs in the balance. Eternal life or eternal death are the spoils of this war. Now look, I do not even know if I can appreciate what eternity even means. It is far grander than what I am capable of imagining. Eternity seems to be theoretical; it is beyond beginning and ending, it cannot be circumscribed, it simply is. But this is precisely what our Lord fights for. He fights for your eternity. He fights for forgiveness and hope and life so your eternity will be experienced in love beyond our wildest imaginations. To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to reject the gift of victory Jesus secures for you. The sin is eternal because without Christ all sin is eternal. The only end to sin is forgiveness and the only one who forgives from eternity is Christ our Lord.
The gift of forgiveness is what brings us together today. We gather here after the war has been fought. After sin, death and the devil have been dispatched, we step onto the battlefield to survey the damage. Here our crucified and risen Lord arrives to gives you the victory you could have never obtained on your own. Your eternal sin is eternal no more. It has been covered by His blood. It has been matched in violence and resolve and wrath and was destroyed by the Son of God.
Things are different now. Here on the battlefield with the symbols of the war around us, with the cross before our eyes and the hymns of warfare still echoing in our hearts, we get a glimpse of the new things our Lord is doing. We begin to look around, you may not even know the person’s name in front of you or next to you, you may have nothing much in common with them. But here today, the same songs were on their lips, the same confession, the same need for salvation which resides in your heart. Here we find our champion has not only secured eternal life for you, but He has made sure you are not alone.
As Jesus was sitting at home teaching those who gathered around Him, He was giving a warning about the eternal consequences of His word and work when a message made its way to Him. His mother and brothers were seeking Him. What does our Lord do? Does He hop-up and rush out to them? Does He drop it all to take care of His family? No. What He does is redefine what a family is. He looks around at those sitting with Him, those receiving His Word and He says, “‘Who are My mother and My brothers?’ And looking about at those who sat around Him, He said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother’” (Mark 3:33-35).
So, I look around in church and I see a whole group of those who have received the gifts of Christ, those whose sin is not eternal but finished in the love of Christ. There is strength here. There is hope here. There is comfort here, for here are my brothers and sisters.