Gospel: Mark 3:22-30
Meanwhile, the teachers of the law, who had come from Jerusalem, said, “He is in the power of Beelzebul: the chief of the demons helps him to drive out demons.” Jesus called them to him, and began teaching them by means of stories, or parables. “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a nation is divided by civil war, that nation cannot stand. If a family divides itself into groups, that family will not survive. In the same way, if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he will not stand; he is finished.
No one can break into the house of a strong man in order to plunder his goods, unless he first ties up the strong man. Then indeed, he can plunder his house. Truly, I say to you, every sin will be forgiven humankind, even insults to God, however numerous. But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. He carries the guilt of his sin forever.” This was their sin when they said, “He has an unclean spirit in him.”
“Whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.”
Many scholars have pondered what it means to “slander the Holy Spirit”—a sin, according to Jesus, that “will never be forgiven.” Perhaps such a sin renders us impervious to remorse or conversion, and thus puts us beyond the scope of forgiveness. In this context, however, the meaning seems clear enough. It is Jesus’ response to the shocking accusation of his enemies that he is only able to drive out demons because he is in league with Beelzebul, the chief of the demons. Over and over, Jesus has offered signs of healing power. Where the sick are made whole, where the poor receive the good news, where the oppressed are set free—these are the signs of the Holy Spirit, the inbreaking of God’s kingdom. But because these signs do not come in some officially “Church sponsored” package, there are religious people who fail to recognize them, even dismissing them as being from the devil. This, according to Jesus, is slander against the Holy Spirit, worse even than an “insult to God.” God forbid that we should fail to perceive the presence of the Spirit in our midst. All the worse if we abuse and slander its witnesses, and thus carry the guilt of that sin forever.
© Copyright Bible Diary 2019