Mark 3:20-35 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-One of Cara’s and my favorite genre of movie to watch is sports movies. Generally leave you inspired, feeling like you can take over the world! One of the best is Remember the Titans. It follows a football team from a recently unsegregated school in Virginia. While tensions are high at the beginning and racial biases are repeatedly brought to the forefront, by the end of the season the guys are all best friends. One of the pivotal scenes in the movie is when one of the white players gets in a pretty serious car accident. His best friend from the team (who happens to be black) comes to visit him. As he walks into the room, the nurse says: “Only kins allowed in here” The player lying on the bed says: “Alice, are you blind? Don’t you see the family resemblance? That’s my brother.”

-In today’s text, we’re going to look at what it means to be family. You may have heard the church referred to as “the family of God,” but what is that? Why would we want to be a part of family that’s as broken and messed up as the church?


  1. Family Opposition, Part 1 (20-21)

-Last week we saw Jesus call the 12 disciples/apostles. He’s constituting a new Israel, a new people of God to represent Him to the world. Remember that they’re represented by: time with, sent by Him, and preaching with authority to fight against the devil. 

-Those are the markers of faithful ministry even down to today. We’re supposed to be marked by time with Jesus, if we’re a disciple we have been sent by Jesus, and our role as being sent is to preach/share the gospel message far and wide! (we’ll look at that idea in more detail next week)

-But what do you think happens if someone misses what it means to follow after God? We’ve seen increasing opposition to Jesus’ ministry throughout the Gospel, but it takes a unique turn in today’s passage, as you should have heard as we read it, because who adds to the opposition today? Let’s look and see:

-Home: back to Capernaum at Peter’s house.

 -Last week Jesus went up to the mountains to get away from the crowds and began his specific ministry to the 12 disciples. Lots of options for where those mountains could have been, Capernaum is basically in the middle of a mountainous region (think more CO than MN)

-I said this a few weeks ago, but keep in mind that Jesus’ early ministry is VERY localized! He hasn’t gone too far outside of Capernaum yet, but the surrounding areas keep flocking to Him, as we see by the return of the character:

-The crowd: once again, getting in Jesus’ way. The crowd keeps showing up again and again and keeps interfering with Jesus’ ministry. A couple notes on this:

-Size does not equal success. Size can be measured a few different ways: ABCs (adults, buildings, cash), today it can by YouTube views (or Insta likes, depending on your social of choice). People I’ve talked to today have tried building a “platform” to expand their following, I talked to some friends at a recent conference who were complaining about someone wanting to plug their book to them (and then someone at the conference told me he wanted to send me his new book!). 

-But there’s also a flip side to this that is just as much a problem in the church: viewing decline as the biggest pursuit because you’re being “persecuted.” Or you see it with someone being antagonistic on the socials actively looking to stir up division. Both of these are over emphasizing numbers and missing what Jesus has actually called us to: faithfulness & fruitfulness (are you a little fruity?) 

-Faithful to the faith once for all delivered to the saints, fruitful in having an eternal impact on those around you. Once again, we have this point of tension that we need to be comfortable in! Speaking the truth in love is hard! 

-This crowd, as we’ve seen multiple times so far want something from Jesus. They’ve seen the miracles, they’ve witnessed the exorcisms, maybe some people are just around for the show! They’ve heard Jesus best the smartest people of the day and they’re hoping for another showdown. But it forces us to ask the question: what do you want from Jesus? Do you just come for the show? Are you expecting Him to magically fix all your problems and you’ll stick around until those are solved? Or do you want Jesus and nothing else? Think of the old spiritual ‘Give Me Jesus’ that said “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.” And to be honest, Jesus won’t stop pushing at you until He’s all you have left! 

-Fame continues to spread, even those in Nazareth are hearing about what Jesus has been doing, which includes His family.

-“seize him” is overly passive, better translation would be “arrest” or “coerce”, one translation put “restrain him.” This wasn’t a friendly visit! 

-What were they saying about Jesus? Out of his mind! But then Mark moves quickly on, leaving us hanging: 

-Markan sandwich, connects another story to it. Throughout this book, Mark will begin one story, stick a different story in the middle of it that is connected thematically, then return to the original story, so we’ll take a look at a similar idea from a different perspective. Not only was His family opposed to Him:

  • Legal Opposition (22-30)

-Scribes from Jerusalem

-Up until this point he would have been a bit of a local nuisance, but as His fame spreads, the news eventually gets to the main office in Jerusalem. This would signify that the highest people would have started seeing it as a legitimate threat to their authority. So not only were regular people coming all the way from Jerusalem, now the authorities are getting involved!

-They’ve seen Jesus’ miracles, the exorcisms, the healings (or at the very least word has reached them) and have come up with a solution: possessed by Beelzebul. No one’s sure where this name came from, could have been a way of referring to the prince of demons (which connects it to the rest of the phrase). A literal translation is the “prince of dung.” Not a kind way of referring to Jesus!

-Once again, Jesus knows exactly what’s going on so He invites them in and welcomes the conversation. 

-I think this is one of those areas we would do well to take note of! Is Jesus too scared to bring up or talk about any issue? Not that I’ve found yet, and I’ve been reading the Bible through for a while at this point! Why do we have a tendency to act like some topics are off limits for the church to talk about? If we believe Jesus is THE way THE truth and THE life, that means that He is the source of all truth, meaning no topic is too taboo, no issue is disconnected, and nothing is too trivial to address and bring it back to the ultimate source of that truth. 

-When I was growing up that issue was sex. As long as it wasn’t brought up kids wouldn’t find out about it, or as long as our kids were sheltered enough they wouldn’t have to deal with certain sins. Hate to break it to you, but I first learned about sex in the church with other kids my age! Whether or not we wanted to admit it, kids were going to be kids and talk about it! Today we’ve got more things we’re not supposed to talk about: race issues (better: ethnic issues), money, and politics. Once again, let me ask: do you think Jesus had any problem talking about any of those issues? In just a couple chapters, Jesus is going to break all sorts of ethnic barriers down and begin ministering to Gentiles. He talks about money more than He talks about heaven, and as I mentioned last week, He intentionally chose 2 of His 12 disciples from the polar opposite ends of the political spectrum (imagine the conversations/debates they had as they walked everywhere!) 

-So if Jesus is willing to engage any and every topic imaginable, what do you think His disciples should be willing to do? Probably engage every issue that comes our way! The reality is: if we’re careful and pay attention to what issue is being address, we’ll find some way it connects to the truth, and use that as a bridge to point someone to Jesus. It’s not hard, it just takes a little bit of intentionality and paying careful attention to what someone is saying! 

-Now, Jesus was a master of this! He knew how to provide the solutions that no one else was anticipating, and how to get to the underlying issues that were actually going on. Which means, the scribes should have brought their A-game to interact with Him! Instead, they just picked 1 dumb argument (as we’ll see) and stuck with it! Made the most sense to them, but didn’t actually make a lick of sense!

-What are parables? We often think of them as connected to the Sermon on the Mount, or short stories that drive home a point, but the original word contains a much wider range of interpretations, from stories, to pithy sayings, to riddles or even illustrations! Almost anything to make a point.

-Jesus basically tells 3 stories, 1 that communicates the absurdity of the logic, the second that communicates what Jesus is ACTUALLY doing, and then lands on what the scribes are doing, which is important to understand what is being said about the unforgivable sin!

-First stories connect to the absurdity of what the scribes are saying. Those who are demon possessed are out of their minds! No control, lashing out at others, and when Jesus comes, He brings compassion, self-control, understanding, and holistic healing. Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He’s the ultimate author or leprosy, of a man having a lame hand, of a cripple being unable to walk! Why in the world would Satan fight against himself? It’s a terrible argument! It’s the same thing with a kingdom divided against itself, and a house, and then again back to Satan. I’ve seen this happen before with sports! Think of the iconic play where Chris Webber is playing for Michigan in the national championship against North Carolina. With seconds left, he called a timeout when the team was out of timeouts, leading to him receiving a technical foul and giving the other team 2 free throws. Or other times where someone completely forgot which basket they were supposed to be shooting at and shoot in the wrong hoop and score for the other team. They’re only hurting themselves, and that’s the exact point Jesus is making in this section! If Jesus is really the “prince of demons” wouldn’t He just be fighting against Himself? It’s a terrible argument! Now I don’t have time to dig into this today, but there are all sorts of examples of this in the world around us today! People using terrible logic to try to argue against Christianity, I’ll be talking about some of them in Sermon Scraps tomorrow, but I’d also be interested in some of the reasons you’ve heard! Email me if you think of some!

-The second story is about a strong man (27). Spent a whole week studying this verse in college! Who is the strong man? Why does he need to be bound up? In context, the strong man is Satan, and Jesus coming to earth has bound Satan for this season. So instead of Satan fighting against Satan, Jesus is the stronger man who came to earth to bind Satan for a season by bringing healings, exorcisms and preaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven. That’s what Jesus is accomplishing through His ministry! He’s not in cahoots with Satan, He’s actively fighting against Him! 

-This brings us to the final story, and a passage that has brought no small amount of debate over the centuries: the unpardonable or unforgiveable sin. Jesus even says every other sin will be forgive EXCEPT this one. And why is it worse to blaspheme the HS than Jesus?

-First time we’ve seen Jesus begin a statement with the word “Truly” (lit. Amen) This word is used all over the OT to give validity to what was said, but it’s always at the end of a statement. Jesus beginning a phrase with it signifies that Jesus is speaking with His own authority, and can almost be thought of as saying “Thus says the Lord” 

-As for the unforgiveable sin, notice that Mark adds a descriptive piece in vs. 30. This tells us that this unforgiveable sin is connected to seeing Jesus’ works (which are done by the HS, remember we saw Jesus submit Himself to the Spirit right after His baptism), and attributing them to the devil. One author summarized it by saying “It is deliberately repudiating the truth about Jesus.” (Andy Naselli

-What about someone who is antagonizing over whether that inadvertently said something that they’re convinced was this sin? I’ve talked to multiple people in my time in ministry who have worried about this! Yet here’s the reality: if you are at all worried you have committed this sin, I can almost guarantee you haven’t committed it. Those who have committed this sin don’t care. They remain callous and hard hearted toward the works of the Lord. So instead of living in fear of future condemnation, we need to remember that there is NO condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus. So: do you trust Jesus today? And do you trust Him today more than you did yesterday? Great! You haven’t committed this sin!

Yet at the same time, we would do well to view this as a warning: keep short accounts. Keep living a life of repentance and keep in step with the Spirit. 

-As for why it’s worse to blaspheme the HS and not the Father or the Son, I think John Piper has a helpful summary:

-The Holy Spirit is the one who softens our hearts, who awakens our hearts to the realities of the gospel message, and if we refuse to acknowledge Him, we will be condemned.

-Jesus doesn’t say these scribes have committed it, but He’s warning them of the implications of what they’re saying! Be careful of what you say and who you’re accusing of being in league with the devil!

-All that just served to signify the opposition Jesus faces, because then Mark shifts right back to where we cut in vs. 21:

  • Family Opposition, Part 2 (31-35)

-Jesus dealt with the opposition of the scribes, no surprise there, the family tension is much more difficult and acute.

-Notice who’s described here: mother and brothers. Think back to December where we studied Jesus’ birth. How long would it take you to forget the arrival of the angels, the miraculous inception, the crazy shepherds showing up, the Magi from the East? How long does it take you to forget what God has done in your life? 

-Not just Mary, Jesus’ brothers come too! (anti-Catholic idea of perpetual virginity of Mary) Jesus had at least 4 brothers, and an unknown number of sisters (Mark 6:3). Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have struggled with my brother claiming to be God! On top of that, imagine what growing up with Him would have been like!

-Once again, the crowd is playing a role: this time they serve as a buffer between Jesus and His biological family. Just as the crowd wanted something from Him, His family isn’t trying to figure out Jesus’ ultimate aim, they’re trying to save face. Remember, we saw at the beginning of the chapter that Jesus didn’t even have time to eat, the crowd was so thick. So the word would have started in the back, slowly traveled person by person until they reach Jesus, who once again would have been doing what He’d been sent to earth to do: preach! 

-Not completely dismissing of family, but redirects the conversation. This would have been completely unthinkable in the 1st century context! We’re so individualized here today that we can’t fathom this, but in this time family was EVERYTHING. We saw in chapter 6 that people knew His whole family! The Jews were especially conscientious of family lineage. And Jesus wants to take that good idea, and put a new spin on it.

-Just as He was creating a new Israel with the 12 apostles, now He’s creating a new lineage, a new genealogy defined by a spiritual reality instead of a physical reality. God’s family is no longer comprised of ethnic distinctions, but spiritual distinctions, that’s what God wanted at the beginning anyway! Transformed lives, not just external obedience! 

-I shared at the beginning an illustration from Remember the Titans: Jesus is telling us here that our primary allegiances today need to change! If we’re a part of God’s family, our allegiance is to our brothers and sister in the church. Honestly, I don’t know how people survive without the church! We had people come help us clean our house when we moved in, paint every wall, replace toilets, flooring. Even this past week: our van died and next thing I know, Eric Zaske is offering one of his vehicles for me to use and Chris and Ian Wolfgram came over to help me replace the starter on the van!

-Those are small things, but they mean the world to me! But think about what it means that we’re a part of God’s family:

-What religion would allow you to approach God (creator and sustainer of everything that exists) as a family member? Keller tweet. Do you know that Jesus is your perfect Heavenly Father who cares more about you than you could ever realize? That nothing is too trivial to ask, and nothing is left out of His oversight?

-The reality is: we’re all a part of a family, the question is which family are you a part of? The scribes today demonstrated that they’re a part of the wrong family, and joining the right family is so simply a child can do it. Yet it takes a choice, so the question in front of us all today is: do you want to be a part of God’s family? It’s easy! As we saw in today’s text, it’s whoever does the will of God. So repent of your sin, believe in Jesus and you will be saved! 

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