I like how the apostle Mark writes about Jesus in this next story… “Again He began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around Him. So He got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was on the shore facing the sea.”
Imagine Mark telling about the details of what he saw – Jesus stepping into the boat, the crowd on the shore facing the sea – just like we would describe some great person or event we encountered – his every movement, where he went, who was there, and what he did.
No matter what your opinion of Jesus, this one person changed the course of history in just 3 years – with little means or status, with words that are wise beyond compare, and we are still talking about it today, over 2000 years later.
Mark 4: 1-9 ~ Parable of the Sower
Again He began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around Him. So He got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was on the shore facing the sea. He taught them many things in parables, and in His teaching He said to them:
“Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow.As he sowed, this occurred: Some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it sprang up right away, since it didn’t have deep soil.When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it didn’t have a root, it withered.Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce a crop.Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop that increased 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.”
Then He said, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!”
I wonder how Mary must have felt when she heard Jesus say the words: “Who are My mother and My brothers?Look, here are My mother and My brothers! Anyone who does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.”
According to the Gospels, Mary was there with some of Jesus’ brothers and they were worried about him. Maybe they thought he was working too hard, or perhaps concerned for his safety. But since Jesus’ brothers, particularly James, did not yet believe who Jesus was, maybe it was more out of jealousy than anything else. Maybe they talked their mother into coming along, thinking Jesus would listen to her.
And as usual, Jesus turns things around. Jesus is telling us that we cannot rely on our parents’ religion or who they are to be right with God or ultimately to get into heaven. Each of us, individually, must account for our actions alone. There is only one person who can vouch for us when we finally meet God, and that is Jesus. Someday God will ask, why should I allow you into heaven despite the wrong things you have done? For those of us who know Christ, we can point to Him and say, “because He willingly took my sin.” And Jesus will respond, “I know her, she is with me and part of my family. Come on in.”
And I think Mary understood, at that moment in Jesus’ ministry, that His purpose was bigger than all of us.
Jesus taught that relationships are the most valuable thing – relationship with God and relationship with others. On this Mother’s Day, that certainly proves to be true. At the end of our lives, none of the material things will matter, but those we have around us and the memories of those in our lives, will be what matters most.
~ True Relationships ~
Then His mother and His brothers came, and standing outside, they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him and told Him, “Look, Your mother, Your brothers, and Your sisters are outside asking for You.”
He replied to them, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”And looking about at those who were sitting in a circle around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!Whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus only mentions one sin that will not be forgiven – blasphemy against the Spirit.
Jesus warns, “He who is not with Me is against Me. Any sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” Matthew 12:30-31
This is a very specific statement from Jesus, so it is important, even life-critical, that we understand exactly what this blasphemy is and what it is not. In this story about Jesus, the Jewish leaders or Pharisees are accusing him of being an evil spirit or the devil himself. This is one of the biggest insults a person could say to Jesus, but insults alone are not blasphemy. Insults or curses that are said in ignorance or unbelief against Jesus or the Spirit are not blasphemy.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a deliberate rejection from those who know Jesus’ claims are true, yet reject Him anyway.
These Pharisees could not deny Jesus’ claims and miracles to be true so they said He was from an evil spirit instead. Their hearts were hardened, and they rejected Jesus even when they had the fullest possible revelation of who he was. The Holy Spirit testifies of Christ and makes His truth known to us. These Pharisees had that ultimate truth but rejected it, and that is why it was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (truth).
Rejection in ignorance or unbelief that later gives way to repentance is not blasphemy.
Saul of Tarsus’ conversion is a good example of this. He was a murderer of Christians, and a hater of Jesus. His sins could not get much worse than that. But when the Holy Spirit (Jesus in Spirit) was revealed to him on the road to Damascus, he did not deny or reject it. He embraced the truth, even when he knew what that meant in facing his past sins, and what it would cost him in changing his ways. Paul was forgiven.
Blasphemy of the Spirit is a rejection of God and His truth, when you know exactly who God is.
It is the ultimate and final rejection of God.
~ Jesus mentions one unforgivable sin ~
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul in Him!” and, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons!”
So Jesus summoned them and spoke 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 rebels against himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is finished!
“On the other hand, no one can enter a strong man’s house and rob his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he will rob his house.I assure you: People will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies they may blaspheme.But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
God made the Sabbath for mankind, not the other way around. This next story of Jesus shows another example of Jesus’ deity as the Son of God, because here Jesus demonstrates authority even over the Sabbath. But before we get into the story, what does it mean to be the Son of God? This is where there can be much confusion. “Son of” means to be in the direct line of, or in this case, God. God does this by manifesting Himself into the human image of Jesus. Though it may sound strange at first, the Old Testament is filled with stories of God walking among the people, and other spiritual beings and angels not like us. It is actually right in line with God’s character and the rest of the Bible. And as the Son of God, Jesus was also the first to call God, “Father”, a concept that was not used prior to Jesus. It is just one more example of His deity.
~ Jesus Questioned About Working on the Sabbath ~
Mark 2:23 – 3:6
On the Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and His disciples began to make their way picking some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read what David and those who were with him did when he was in need and hungry—how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the sacred bread—which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests—and also gave some to his companions?”Then He told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Now Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a paralyzed hand. In order to accuse Him, they were watching Him closely to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath. He told the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stand before us.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.
There are three similar-sounding titles for Jesus: “Son of God”, “Son of Man”, and “Son of David”. What is the difference and why three titles?
Like God, just one title for Jesus cannot cover all his attributes, but these are also three specific claims: Son of God – in the line of God. God manifested Himself in the image of Jesus. God in the flesh. Son of Man – only Jesus calls Himself this title. It refers to his humanity, and his ability to identify with our suffering and struggles. Son of David – in the line of David. Jesus is directly descended from the genealogy of King David through Mary’s blood line, and his earthly father, Joseph, carries the legal line from tribe of Judah. This fulfills the prophecy from the early Israelites and King David’s time.
In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees required fasting twice a week for orthodox Judaism, even though the Old Testament law prescribed only one fast on the Day of Atonement. But Jesus was not doing this and some people questioned why not. Jesus went about teaching and healing and dining with people. Jesus brought life and joy with Him, not mourning.
Even today, our faith in Jesus should bring us joy, comfort us, give us hope. There may be times for fasting, but I believe they are rare. Unless it is done for all the right reasons and in private, then one is just merely going through the motions of a good diet or cleansing. Jesus came to replace the old, external traditions of rituals and self-righteousness, to give us new, internal traditions of repentance and grace! It is freeing, and it is joy! Don’t pour the new wine into old wineskins!
~ Jesus Questioned About Fasting ~
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them.But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”