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READ Mark 3:20-22a
Why would Pharisees be sent from Jerusalem to Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee to check out a small fish like Jesus?
Looking at the life of Jesus in the early chapters of Mark, you’d see that for the most part, He’s still in the popular stage. Crowds are surging to Him. People are coming from all over to see and hear the spectacle that is Jesus. Word travels to the great halls of Jerusalem—“what do we do with this new teacher? He’s able to do things we’ve never seen. He teaches with an authority all His own. What do we do about this guy?”
So a dispatch is sent out. To find Jesus, see what He’s up to, make a judgment.
Both Matthew and Luke introduce this confrontation with the Pharisees by talking about the healing of a demon possessed man—Matthew tells us he is deaf and mute.
• They look at this man and do not rejoice at his healing. Rather they sneer at it just like they had the man healed on the Sabbath.
• They see Jesus’ popularity and don’t like it. After all God is not always popular so Jesus must be just playing to the crowd.
• They hear His teaching and are offended by it.
• They see His power over sickness and the demonic and they envy it—“wow—I can’t do that on my best day.”
• They saw the issue—crowds flocking to Jesus—“not one of us”—and away from them
• They hear His call to Faith and are unmoved by it.
They made certain Assumptions
• We’ve seen this type before and they turned out to be false
• We know we’re good and right with God
• We know we’re God’s Chosen
• We know we have the truth
• We know we serve as guardians of the truth
• We know Jesus is not one of our approved representatives
They came to certain Conclusions
• He’s not one of us, not our friend, so He must be our enemy and a false teacher
• If He’s our enemy, He must also be God’s enemy
• If He’s God’s enemy, He must not be teaching God’s Truth, nor have God’s Power, nor God’s Spirit
• If He has neither God’s power, nor God’s Spirit and He doesn’t teach God’s Truth—then the only other way Jesus could do all these things is if He is filled with Demonic Power.
This is a reasonable course of action—you investigate an issue, you think it over, make some assumptions, weigh it over experience, you come to a conclusion—basic problem solving follows this line of thinking.
But what if some of your assumptions are wrong? What if some of the experiences you had before do not apply? Because what Jesus likes to do is shatter our paradigms—work outside our box, and do those types of things that totally aggravate and upset us.
But Jesus, according to Matthew, “knew their thoughts” and called them to Him.
Jesus knew their thoughts and knew they were wrong.
Something totally different is going on Here
The Jews acknowledge that Jesus is driving out demons and curing the sick. What they want to discredit is how He is doing it. He’s doing it in a way and with an authority that those who came down from Jerusalem don’t have—and they know it.
They accuse Jesus of working by demonic power, but Matthew establishes that Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit. Just before the parallel passage, Matthew says this:
Matt. 12:17—“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on him and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”
So it cannot be a demonic spirit that Jesus works by—If Satan were to drive out other demonic powers, then his Kingdom is divided. Even Jesus recognizes that Divide and Conquer works—just as Satan knows that and tries to do that even among the church.
Matt 12:27—“If I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out?”
These Pharisees claimed to drive out demons—Acts19:13-16—“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
Divide and Conquer is not how God will defeat Satan—Satan won’t be beaten on a technicality, by sneak attack, luck or cunning—he will be completely overpowered.
By casting out demons, setting Prisoners free, Jesus is raiding the Strong Man’s House. Jesus—“I AM the one who enchains the Strong Man—I AM the One who plunders his property, his kingdom”
Revelation describes Satan being captured and bound, enchained before being thrown into the pit.
Colossians 1:13—“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
He is the One, who by the Power of the Cross, by the blood that was shed, by His death and Resurrection—He is the One who paid it all. He is the One who has bound up the strong man and pillaged his kingdom.
The Pharisees had it all wrong—it was not the demonic at work, it was the Holy Spirit who worked in Jesus—blaspheming Him is the continual ongoing rejection of the Holy Spirit to call you to faith and point you to Christ. This wasn’t the first time the Pharisees had rejected what was right before them and it wasn’t the last time. Some of their hearts are so hard they will never believe even if someone were to rise from the dead.
If you worry that you have committed the unpardonable sin then you haven’t—because anyone who has will be so hardened of heart that they won’t care or worry about it. when your heart becomes calloused and unresponsive to God and His leading—then you’re in trouble--
But the Pharisees they came down to make a judgment and it was reasonable but wrong.
In the same way—there have been many in the SBC of late responding to Annual Church Profiles, declines in church membership & participation—many of you are considering the same types of things here at the local level—but nationally, some are saying it’s no big deal—it’s just a change in reporting, it’s just a problem of –we must stay the course—just keep doing what we’re doing.
President of the SBC—Frank Paige—on May 1st.
“The Southern Baptist Convention is rapidly dying and resistance to change could kill more than half of the denomination’s churches by 2030.
“Many Southern Baptist churches are small groups of white people who are holding on until the end. Not only have we not reached out to younger generations, but we have failed to reach out to ethnic minorities who are all around us. Rather than embracing a ‘whatever it takes’ mentality to change and restore a local church to health, many pastors and churches have chosen to die rather than change, and they are doing it.”
Unless something is done to reverse the downward trend, Southern Baptist churches could number only 20,000—down from the current total of more than 44,000—in fewer than 22 years,
Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, said there is no escaping the fact that Southern Baptists are not reaching as many people for Christ as they once did. LifeWay gathers the year-to-year information on the convention's behalf. According to the ACP statistics reported by Southern Baptist churches, baptisms in 2007 dropped nearly 5.5 percent to 345,941, compared to 364,826 in 2006.
“This report is truly disheartening,” Rainer said. “Total membership showed a slight decline. Baptisms have now declined for three consecutive years and for seven of the last eight years, and are at their lowest level since 1987.
“Indeed, the total baptisms are among the lowest reported since 1970. We are a denomination that, for the most part, has lost its evangelistic passion.”
UBC is not alone in our current struggle—and we would be wrong to jump to conclusions and point fingers of blame. Blame is the division of the enemy and our Kingdom cannot stand if we are divided.
If we are to survive as a congregation, then we must be willing to have our hearts broken—be willing to do whatever it takes—give all of ourselves—more than just band-aids on problems that require surgery. This is not some intellectual exercise, we cannot keep each other, we cannot keep God at a distance
We must come before God and truly lay our hearts down before Him, cast all our cares and uncertainties upon Him—not praying against each other, but praying for each other, praying blessing upon each other, praying successful ministry upon each other, praying for boldness, praying for a heart for the lost, a lack of fear, pray for children to fill this sanctuary with all their bustle and noise, pray for the lost and hurting with all their messy lives to be here for healing.
If there is any day, if there is any time to come forward, not for salvation, not for some closeted, secret sin, but just to come in brokenness and concern for our church… today is the day. Do not let your hearts be hardened. Come down here today, and we as a body as His people will get before Him and humble ourselves and pray and seek His face, turning for ways that are displeasing to Him and cry out for His Healing & Restoration.
"People will not change until the pain of remaining the same exceeds the pain of change."
We must move from a Come and See mindset, a I come to be Served, I come to be fed mindset to a Go and Tell mindset, a I come to serve mindset, I come to feed the spiritually starving.