Gardendale Nazarene

to live completely for Christ...

A House Divided | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

A House Divided

This morning's parable is one of those odd stories in the Gospels. It is found in Mark 3:20-30.

The crowds following Jesus are growing. This is becoming a problem for the religious leaders. They probably asked themselves, "How exactly are we going to deal with this 'Jesus problem?'"

As the word spread about Jesus, it spread also to his family. Verse 21 reads, "And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, 'He is out of his mind.'"

The scribes agreed with the sentiment, actually, they were convinced that Jesus was possessed. The next verse gives us their statement, "'He is possessed by Beelzebul,' and 'by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.'"

This statement should not be easily dismissed- the scribes were saying that Jesus' actions were being controlled by Satan. He was under the 'prince of demons.' This is a very serious accusation and Jesus responds directly and with authority.

The text tells us that Jesus calls to them and speaks to them in a parable. This parable has three similar statements that reel the scribes in before Jesus finalizes His point in the next assertion.

  • If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
  • If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
  • If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.

Jesus then extends this parable with a mini-parable, "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" (Mark 3:27 ESV).

What is Jesus telling the scribes through these parables? Two things jump out to me. First, Jesus is reminding us that His work is in unity with the mission of God. His actions are in line with the Spirit.

Following this parable is a couple of those peculiar verses. Verses 28 and 29 read, "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."

What does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Context is key. Jesus is telling them– when they say things against Him, those will be forgiven ("Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they are doing"). However, when the scribes said Jesus' actions were those of satan, they made a statement that God's Spirit in Him is the work of satan.

The Holy Spirit's actions (i.e. healing, freeing people of unclean spirits, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, etc.) are easily discernible from the works of satan. Jesus' struggle with the scribes was that they didn't recognize God's Spirit when it was right before them. For His Kingdom is not divided.

Second, in order for the strong man (satan) to be defeated, he has to be bound. In order to bind a strong man, you must be stronger than the one who needs binding. Guess what? Jesus will (and has) defeated satan.

When I read this parable, I take assurance in the fact that God is ruling and the Holy Spirit's action might be unrecognizable to those in the world, but that shouldn't stop us from seeing the captives set free!