Jesus is Beelzebul

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  September 27, 2014

            There is such a thing as unforgivable sin. Jesus made that point clear in Nazareth when the leadership of the religious faith accused him of working in concert with the forces of evil. When this accusation came up in the third chapter of Mark, Jesus calls the sin blaspheme against the Holy Spirt. Such a sin, Jesus says, will not be forgiven.
            It must have been a difficult time for everyone concerned—times of transition and transformation usually are. Jesus had already made quite a reputation for himself as a great teacher and healer. The charismatic character of his presence exhibited a profound authority that transcended that of the religious leaders. People were taking notice. 
            A lot of what he taught and modeled, however, was contradictory to the conventions of his culture and religious tradition. He was definitely different and not everyone was happy. Most notably irritated by Jesus’ very public presence were his own family, who considered him an embarrassment and the religious leaders who considered him a threat.
            It is a situation that is very common—and exceptionally real—in our time as well as the days of Jesus Christ. Strong held expectations of right and wrong, deeply held religious traditions and customs, and comforting positions of political or religious authority come into conflict with each other and tensions arise. Much like those in Jesus’ own family, there is a big desire within our own lives to silence those in our family before they make fools out of themselves, and further embarrass the family name. Likewise, when faced with political, religious, social, or economic practices that conflict with our own understanding of how things ought to be, it is easy to cast those who hold the opposing view as bewitched by evil. It is so easy, but is it Christian?
            As Christians we generally have no problem standing in the name of Jesus Christ, upholding the authority of Scripture, and acting out of the tradition of our church in proclaiming what is right and what is wrong. We all do it, and with good reason. God never wants us to adopt or accept that which is evil and destructive. The problem comes when disagreement arises on what actually is “right” and “wrong.” Since we all presume to have Christ on our side, the natural inclination is to disregard those other so-called believers as being evil, debased, ignorant, misguided, or just plain lost in their own distorted understanding of the Bible.
            In the face of such a conflict, Jesus refuses to reduce himself to name-calling or arbitrary condemnation of those with whom he finds himself in conflict. “How can Satan cast out Satan,” he asks the crowd. When a house is divided against itself—not just Satan’s house but any house—it will fall. His challenge to everyone gathered to witness this exchange was simple. Your way of understanding the world has merit, you do not have the exclusive interpretation and application of God’s immeasurable grace and power. In fact, as Jesus suggests by invoking the name of the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit is much bigger.
            There are ways of genuinely experiencing God that transcend the limited comprehension of any particular tradition or any individual believer. There are rich, wonderful, and viable Christian traditions that have worship styles and doctrines that other Christian will find confusing and, in many cases, outright heretical. Yet, in their own particular way, they are making a unique and necessary difference for Christ that some other Christian traditions may never be able to realize. In the end, they both remain valid so long as the power of God’s Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus Christ are center. We may not always agree, but we serve the same God. The question is, how much longer will we divide over everything else?