“‘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’.” Mark 3:27-30 (HCSB)
In today’s passage, The Scribes were accusing Jesus of using demonic power to cast out demons. There are two types of “Scribes” in the Gospels. One kind is the aged “expert” in Torah. The word “Scribe” also describes advanced Torah students who were yet to be ordained as rabbis. In today’s passage, this latter type was speaking with Jesus, the students with limited authority because of their incomplete training. These Scribes were not allowed to do two things. 1) They could not interpret Scripture independently (apart from their teacher’s articulated interpretations). 2) They were not allowed to make judgments. By their accusations, the Scribes were either 1) Stepping outside of their authority or 2) Acting as mouthpieces of their Torah instructors.
Jesus begins dismantling their argument with simple logic. “Satan cannot drive out himself.” Imagine how unwilling a pit bull is to let go of its victim. That’s Satan...and worse! Jesus is saying Satan is only & always singularly focused unless compelled by an overwhelming EXTERNAL influence.
That said, Jesus quickly compares and contrasts the impossibility of Satan’s kingdom being divided with the historical reality of Israel’s divided kingdom. Of course, this had to sting the hearts of those Scribes who had dedicated their lives to studying the Torah and Prophets, the history of Israel!
In His analogy, Jesus reminds the Scribes of how Satan had once bound the hearts of Israel’s forefathers, rabbis whose interpretations the Scribes were, no doubt, learning. Once bound up in sin, Israel’s kingdom became divided. Eventually, the Babylonians conquered Israel, exiled its inhabitants, and carried away the Temple articles to Babylon.
Per God’s direction to Israel through the prophets, if the Jews would turn back to God, He would forgive them, restoring them to the land. Regardless of their sin or blasphemy, one could be forgiven if they acknowledged their sin and repented. Jesus is extending an earthly image of restoration into the heavenly realm.
What makes Jesus’ message even more poignant is how He knew the Holy Spirit had revealed this truth to the Scribes. They knew in their hearts that Jesus was Messiah but rejected that revelation. The only sin for which there is no forgiveness is to KNOW that Jesus is Messiah and to die having rejected Him. This is literally “blaspheming the revelation of the Holy Spirit,” essentially saying, “Holy Spirit, you are revealing a lie.”
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