SERIES: Mark 1-3
SERMON: Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?
TEXT: Mark 3:20-30 (ESV)
It’s good to be with all of you at Gateway Church this Easter weekend. And one thing I want you to know — and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time with us or if you’re worshipping at our North Main campus — one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.
And we’re finishing up our series through the first three chapters of the gospel of Mark today. So if you have your Bible, please turn with me to Mark chapter three. We’ll be looking at verses twenty through thirty together today. And if you’re joining us for the first time, you should know that over the past few weeks we’ve been journeying through the first three chapters of Mark’s gospel — looking at Jesus’ life — and what it means to be a Christian — to be someone who follows Jesus.
And something we like to do here at Gateway — that may be a bit unusual to you — is we like to let you ask questions. So if you have a question during the sermon, you can text your question in to the number printed on the bulletin or you can submit it on the Gateway app.
RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ TEXT:
And hopefully you’ve had time to find Mark chapter three. So let’s begin in verse twenty.
“Then he (that’s Jesus) went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they (Jesus and His disciples) could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 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. 28 “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.” (Mark 3:20-30 ESV)
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about [Jesus]: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
It’s pretty common in our day for people to be offended by Christianity, but not by Jesus. And here’s why: the Jesus people aren’t offended by isn’t the Jesus of the Bible. It’s a Jesus they’ve created as they take some of the stories from the Bible they like — and ignore the stories they don’t like — in order to create a Jesus that’s a good moral teacher who loves people — especially them — and has no issues with how they live or what they do.
Now, you and I are easily offended when people say things about us that aren’t true. We hate it when people judge us to be someone we’re not, right? So...we’d be foolish to think that Jesus isn’t just as offended when people say things about Him that aren’t true and judge Him to be someone who He’s not.
And if you’re here today — regardless if you’d identify as a Christian or not — the most reliable source to go to — in order to know who Jesus is and what He’s like — is the Bible. Even if you’re not sure about its divine inspiration, the Bible has passed all sorts of tests when it comes to its accuracy in recording the life of Jesus.
And today, we’re looking at a short story in Jesus’ life where we see the quote from C.S. Lewis jump right off the pages of the Bible. Because in this story, we see people who believe Jesus to be a lunatic, others think He’s a liar, and then Jesus tells us that He’s Lord.
Liar. Lunatic. Or Lord? Which do you think Jesus is? But even more importantly, which are you living as if Jesus is? Is He a liar, a lunatic, or is He your Lord?
Let’s begin in verse twenty.
MAIN POINT 1
“Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:20-21 ESV)
So in this story, we see that Jesus’ family...thinks He’s a lunatic — they think He’s out of His mind — that He’s all cray cray.
And — again — this is understandable if you pay attention to some of the things Jesus says in the Bible. For instance, He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44 ESV)
Love your enemies...hmmm?
Or, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43b-44 ESV)
To be first...I’ve got to be a slave?
He said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24 ESV)
Or how about, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34 NLT)
Now that one — well we get that one.
Then there’s, “But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.” (Matthew 5:39-41 NLT)
And the pinnacle of His lunacy may be, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56 NLT)
And it’s not just what He said that makes His family think He’s a lunatic — it’s also what Jesus did. Did you notice how crazy busy His schedule is in verse twenty? A lot of people would love to have a booming church — that’s got all kinds of programs and ministry options — but did you notice what the busyness of ministry personally cost Jesus and His disciples?
In verse twenty it says, “they could not even eat.” (Mark 3:20b ESV).
Jesus and His disciples didn’t have time to stop and eat because the ministry was so demanding. Now that’s crazy. Who gets so caught up in ministry that they can’t even take a lunch break? Only people who are a bit looney, right?
So just a little warning timeout here — before you go praying, or hoping, or dreaming for Gateway Church — or your church if you’re visiting with us — to experience an incredible move from the Hand of God — you better first answer, “How much — personally — am I willing to pay to experience such a blessing?”
SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 1
But I think we can sympathize with Jesus’ family. He said some pretty crazy things and His ministry is off the charts demanding and their conclusion about all of it was — “He’s out of His mind” — He’s a lunatic.
Now the religious leaders — well they come to a different conclusion. Let’s look at their response in verse twenty-two.
MAIN POINT 2
“And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” (Mark 3:22 ESV)
So the religious leaders — the scribes — have heard Jesus’ words and seen His ministry and their conclusion...is that He’s a liar. Jesus’ family thinks He’s a lunatic, but the religious leaders — well they think that He’s a liar.
Now as we’ve already seen in Mark’s gospel — the religious leaders hate Jesus — they haven’t liked Him since their first encounter with Him — and so they’re always trying to find a way to discredit Him. And since they haven’t found a good strategy yet — they decide to take another approach and accuse Jesus of being not on God’s team — but on Satan’s team — and that’s way worse than accusing an Ohio State fan of liking the colors Maize and Blue.
But they say Jesus is possessed by Beelzebul — which is another name for Satan — the Devil. So their big accusation against Jesus — their way of denying who He is and to discredit everything He’s doing — is to claim that He’s deceiving everyone by lying about who He’s really working for.
“He’s not working for God,” they say. “He’s working for Satan! He’s lying to you — preying on unsuspecting naive folks. All of the miracles you’ve seen haven’t been done by the power of God — no — every miracle you’ve seen Jesus do has been done by the power of the Devil.”
Now one of the interesting things about church history is that often in times when God begins to stir things up — one of the first accusations made by church people is that the revival isn’t from God, but is a work of the Devil. Often when God’s Spirit does something new — well — it’s new — it’s different. It’s a change from the way things were done before. And religious people don’t like change — so they’ll often rebel against what God’s doing and — in order to justify their rebellion — they’ll claim that the new thing is not from God — but is from the Devil.
And the list of things we’ve said are from the Devil is embarrassing. Now if you don’t regularly attend church — please excuse me while I help us church people laugh at ourselves, OK?
Many hymns — the ones we consider sacred today — were once attributed to Satan — especially when they were first being written...so was the organ — by the way. It was considered the Devil’s instrument when it first got introduced in the church.
And guess what happened in the 20th century when modern music started popping up in the church world. A few hundred years later and those hymns and the organ were now God’s instrument — not Satan’s — but those praise songs and the drums — I mean the drums — well everyone knows they’re the Devil’s instrument, right? Can’t let the drums be in the center of the stage — but an organ — well let’s put its pipes right there in the center.
Now thankfully we’ve moved on from arguing over musical styles — and — as everyone knows — forty-five minutes of singing is from God. But a forty-five minute sermon is most definitely from...the Devil.
See how silly we can be? How quick we can be to call Jesus a liar simply because we don’t like — or don’t understand — something new that He’s doing.
Now church people aren’t the only ones who call Jesus a liar. In fact, if you’re here today and you wouldn’t be quick to call yourself a Christian — or maybe you do call yourself a Christian, but being a Christian isn’t something that — if you’re honest — really influences how you live — if that’s you — here’s how you may be calling Jesus a liar.
Maybe you’ve read something Jesus has said in the Bible — and you don’t like it — so you ignore what He’s said and just go on living according to what you think is right. Basically you’ve just told Jesus that He’s wrong — that He’s a liar. Now for sure — Christians do this too — so here’s an example that will upset everyone.
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 NLT)
And there are many people — Christians and non-Christians — who maybe wouldn’t say Jesus was lying when He said this — but you’re living as if He was lying. Because — and maybe you believe this — you believe you can live for God and money. Maybe you don’t even realize that you’re living for money, but my guess is that someone in your life does. Maybe it’s your friends. Or your kids. Maybe your spouse or your significant other. But if you’re just ignoring what Jesus has said about money — you’re calling Him a liar — that you know better than Him when it comes to money.
SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 2
And if Jesus is a liar, He can’t be a good moral teacher. He can’t be someone you admire. If He lied about something as simple as money — well — what else might He have lied about?
His family thought He was a lunatic and the religious leaders thought He was a liar. But there’s one more option. Let’s see who Jesus says He is. This is His response to the accusation that He’s working for Satan.
MAIN POINT 3
In verse twenty-three we read. “And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds (or ties up…) the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.” (Mark 3:23-27 ESV)
Jesus says, “My family thinks I’m crazy. The religious leaders have called me a liar. But I’m saying — and I’ve proved by my actions — that I. Am. LORD.” Jesus claims to be Lord.
He uses some parables — some illustrations — to prove that He’s not working for Satan. Jesus says, “A kingdom that’s divided — a country that’s split — will not stand. It can’t last unless some sort of unity is found.”
And you know this is true. For instance, a house that’s divided — a family that’s split — cannot stand — it won’t last — unless unity is found.
A relationship that’s divided cannot stand — it won’t last — unless unity is found.
A church that’s divided cannot stand — it won’t last — unless unity is found.
This is a principle easily understood — that’s why it proves Jesus’ point.
And look at what happens. The scribes recognize that Satan is real and at work in the world. And they even acknowledge that Jesus has done actual miracles that have reversed some of Satan’s activities. And so Jesus says, “That just like a kingdom divided cannot stand — or a house divided cannot stand — so to if Satan is divided…He cannot stand.”
Basically Jesus says, “If I’m working for Satan — Satan has picked a terrible strategy. Because you’ve seen what he’s been doing and you’ve seen what I’m doing. And what I’m doing is reversing what Satan’s done. So if I’m working for Satan, you’ll need to explain why He’s picked a plan that’s so absurd that anyone with a lick of common sense can see its ridiculousness.”
And as powerful as His argument is — Jesus doesn’t stop there.
He then tells them that the only way He’s been able to do the healings — the miracles — the casting out of demons — is because He’s stronger than Satan. He’s taken the Strong Man — God’s Enemy — and has tied him up and is demonstrating His power over Satan. And in demonstrating His power — Jesus is displaying — for all to see — that He’s working not for Satan — but is working for God.
SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 3
And the only person who’s able to tie up God’s Enemy — the only person promised to reverse the works of the Devil and to defeat him once and for all — is God Himself. And in demonstrating His power and authority over Satan — Jesus is making it plain for us to see that He isn’t just a good moral teacher — He doesn’t leave us with that option — He’s made it clear that...He. Is. God — that He is Lord.
And then Jesus concludes with a warning that only has authority if it’s given by God Himself. A lunatic saying this would not instill fear — it would instill laughter. A liar saying this would not stir fear in our hearts either.
But here are His words — words that have frightened many people. Verse twenty-eight. “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.” (Mark 3:28-30 ESV)
And unfortunately we’re out of time — so — He is risen — He is risen indeed — and good luck figuring out what Jesus meant. Just kidding.
First, know that these words are important. Jesus begins by saying “Truly I say to you.” And this is the same word that’s usually translated as “amen,” which means “this is true and I agree.” That’s what it means when we say “amen” at the end of a prayer — this is true and I agree.
So Jesus “amens” this statement before He even says it. It’s like He’s saying, “This is so important — and so true — that you need to listen to me!”
And second, notice that there’s a warning, but there’s also hope. The warning is what most people focus on, but we can’t miss the hope promised here either.
The warning is that those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. Which has left a lot of people wondering if they’ve ever done this — or can they possibly — maybe even accidentally — blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Because the consequence is so severe: No forgiveness — EVER!
So what is this — what does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Well our context helps. Especially Mark’s statement in verse thirty. “They were saying, “He has an unclean (or demonic) spirit.” (Mark 3:30 ESV)
The unforgivable sin — according to Mark — is to say that Jesus is demonic — that He’s from Satan and not from God. “So does that mean if I say that ‘Jesus is demonic’ that I’ll never be forgiven?”
Not necessarily, but quite possibly — here’s why. These religious leaders have heard Jesus’ teaching — they know what He’s said about Himself — they’ve witnessed His miracles and did not deny that they’d happened. Yet after clearly hearing and understanding His teaching — AND witnessing the miracles — their unforgivable sin is that they believed in their hearts that Jesus was from Satan.
And if after understanding who Jesus is — after understanding what He’s said about Himself — AND believing in the miracles He performed — if after all of that — you conclude that Jesus is not from God — but is from Satan — you will have committed the sin that Jesus has warned us about.
Now two things and then we’ll look at the hope found in these verses. First, the unforgivable sin must include a full understanding of who Jesus is and what He’s done. Meaning people who don’t have an understanding of who Jesus is and what He’s done — either because of ignorance or because they’ve never heard about Jesus — cannot commit this sin. That doesn’t mean they’re forgiven — it just means that they can be forgiven if they believe in Jesus some day.
And second, if you have any concern in your soul that you may have committed this sin — or maybe will commit this sin someday — know that your concern is the best evidence you can have in knowing that you haven’t — and will most likely — never commit this sin. People who commit this sin have no concern for their eternity. They enjoy attributing Christ’s words and works to Satan.
And anyone who’s concerned about this sin is showing signs that their heart is open to believing. Their concern shows that forgiveness is still possible for them.
Which leads us to the hope found in these verses. Although the unforgivable sin gets all of the attention, I want to draw our attention to something else. I want to draw our attention to what Jesus says in verse twenty-eight. “Truly, I say to you, (So listen up — because this is important! How many sins will be forgiven? Jesus says…) all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter.“ (Mark 3:28 ESV)
We like to focus on the one sin that will not be forgiven and miss the great hope Jesus has promised us as our LORD. All sins will be forgiven. No matter how you’ve insulted God, mocked His name, doubted Him. No matter how you’ve lived, the failures you’ve experienced, the heartaches you’ve caused.
No matter how far short of God’s will for your life you’ve fallen — Jesus promises that all of these sins can be forgiven for those who believe in Him. Forgiveness is available to those who say, “Jesus is not a lunatic and He is not a liar — He is LORD. And I believe in Him. I know that He demands my whole life as LORD. But His demand isn’t burdensome — it’s a delight — because — with Christ as my LORD — I experience the one thing my heart desires most. Forgiveness of my sins, peace in my soul, and hope for eternity.”
So who is Jesus to you? Is He a lunatic who said some crazy things because He was simply out of His mind?
Is He a liar — who was simply trying to manipulate people and is still being used to manipulate people today?
Or is He your LORD? The One who forgives sins. The One who tells the truth. The One who demands our lives because He gave His life for our sake on the cross, defeating the Devil, and was raised to life by the power of God.
Who is Jesus to you? He cannot simply be a good man — that option isn’t available to us — good men don’t say the kinds of things Jesus said. So decide for yourself today — who is Jesus? Is He a liar — then ignore Him. Is He a lunatic — then don’t call Him a good man. Or is He LORD? And if He’s LORD — how will you respond to Him?
Heavenly Father, I pray that everyone who hears my voice will be receptive to what You’ve said to us through Your Word this Easter weekend. Jesus, I ask that You would remind us often that You are LORD. And I pray that You would give us great hope as we believe that You’re a gracious LORD who forgives all sins — all sins of those who come to You for forgiveness. And Spirit I ask that You would help us to joyfully take this Good News of forgiveness to all people. For Jesus is Lord and He is our risen Savior. In His name we pray. Amen.
May you go knowing that Jesus is not a liar nor a lunatic — but that He is your Lord. Amen.
God loves you. I love you. You are sent.