Mark 3: 20 – 35 Jesus accused by his family and by teachers of the law

Mark 3: 20 – 35 Jesus accused by his family and by teachers of the law

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.’

So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.’

He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an impure spirit.’

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting round him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’

‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’

*       *       *

When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’

This is a very telling sentence.

Jesus’ behaviour was arousing controversy. People were coming from many miles around to be healed, to see miracles and to hear Jesus preach. Worse, learned men had come from Jerusalem to see Jesus, and were antagonistic. The reputation of the family would be damaged. And who knew where the enmity of the teachers of the law might end?

Family has a great deal of influence even today. The intervention of Jesus’ family is understandable; by going to take charge of Jesus, they were acting to preserve their good name.

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.’

Another powerful sentence. The teachers of the law weren’t speaking idly. In Mark 3:6 we read ‘Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.’ The accusation that Jesus is possessed by Beelzebul paints him as an opponent of all right-thinking Jews, and paves the way for a blasphemy charge – for which the penalty was death.   

Jesus is scathing in his response. A kingdom divided against itself will surely fall. A household divided against itself will surely fall. How, indeed, can Satan drive out Satan?

Jesus then tells them, ‘In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.’ The strong man of this parable is Satan, Jesus is claiming that he can heal those possessed by demons because he has defeated Satan and tied him up.

These are all illustrations – parables. What if we don’t find them particularly convincing?

We need to look at the outcomes of Jesus’ healing work.

The demoniac whose name was Legion was found sitting quietly beside Jesus, in his clothes – he had previously been naked – and in his right mind. He was fit to return to society.

Lepers were cleansed. Jesus told them to follow the requirements of the law, to go to the priests and make the correct offering to certify their cure. They would then be allowed to re-join society.

The son of the widow of Nain, Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, were all raised from the dead, and were able once again to take part in daily life.

All these outcomes are positive, life-affirming and, above all, they comply with Jewish law.

When Jesus heals, he brings life. He frees the person from whatever had bound them. What he does is the exact opposite of evil.

‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’

Ah, yes – family!

Jesus’ family are trying to hinder and limit his work. They don’t see it like that, of course; they see themselves as trying to protect him from himself. But Jesus can no longer be limited to a single human family; he has come for everybody, the whole world.

People who do God’s will seek the presence of Jesus. We want to hear his voice and be near him. We cluster round him, and we become his brother and sister and mother.

What a wonderful privilege!

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for the wonderful gift of Jesus. Thank you for his healing.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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