My sermon this past Lord’s Day was on Mark 3:13-35, and while I am certain there are things which I said that lack a level of sufficient clarity, for which I ask your pardon, but one particular point came through after the service. I am thankful for the push, because in my mind I was clear, but not everyone is in my mind and as a pastor I need to do a better job. If one listener asked for bit of clarification, I am sure more would like it as well.
The text under consideration is Mark 3:28-30 in which Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” This is said in the context of an accusation labeling Jesus as a man in league with the Devil, a man possessed.
On the face of it, Jesus’s statement is clearly against the detractors standing in front of Him. They claim that the Son of God (Mark 1:1) , the One baptized with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:9-11), is indeed a demoniac. This is blaspheming the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus asks the Father, from the cross, to forgive those who murdered Him (Luke 23:34). Sins against the Son can be forgiven, but sins against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. They are saying that the Man who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit is not a man of righteousness, but, the claim, He is the Lord of the Flies (Beelzebul).
In my sermon, I did not deny this interpretation, because I believe it is correct. However, I expanded the teaching of Christ, through what some may call, typology. What Jesus says here applies to more than a singular moment. It is expansive and unfolding. Revelation carries through.
My approach to Jesus’s statement here is one of a big picture. Jesus is directly speaking to His accusers, to be sure, but He is also speaking to rebellious Israel. The Gospels give the account of Israel condemning their Savior, the Son of God. And these sins will be forgiven, even their sins before Jesus coming. God the Father, and God the Son, are willing to give Israel another chance. They send another witness, the Holy Spirit. And if Israel rejects the third witness (Father, Son and now the Holy Spirit), there will be no forgiveness for them.
Israel rejecting the Holy Spirit, blaspheming Him, is recounted for us in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit comes down at Pentecost, and the church moves forward in Israel with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit and they proclaim the victory of Jesus, the Messiah. He is risen! Rather than believing the witness of the Holy Spirit through the church, the Jews arrest the Christians, beat them, leave them in prison, and even martyr them. Now, remember Jesus’s words, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” The Jews are doing just that in the book of Acts, which is why Paul leaves them for the Gentiles.
Jesus gave Israel forty years to repent after He ascended to His throne, from 30 AD to 70 AD. In 70 AD, Israel had not repented of their sins against the church, they had not joined the church, they had not been united to the body of Christ and Jesus judged them by bringing in the Roman army and demolishing Jerusalem and the Temple, effectively destroying Judaism.
Jesus, the Husband, is willing to be abused and sinned against. But when someone abuses and sins against His Bride, the church (the Temple of the Holy Spirit), there will never be forgiveness.