United Presbyterian Church  2360 Longwood Ave., Reedsport, OR 97467  (541) 271-3214
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 Disclaimer: The sermon below is what was prepared and sat on the pulpit; it may not be what was heard.  

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Pastor Buck during Joys and Concerns

Sermon based on:

GOSPEL:  Mark 3:20-35 Buck

20. After He went home, the crowd came together again so that they could not even eat. 21. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22. And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23. And he called them to him, and spoke 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 his end has come. 27. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. 28. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

31. Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33. And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34. And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

 

Sermon for Sunday, June 10, 2018       

 

If you have a dysfunctional family relationship, you’re in good company; apparently, so did Jesus. Of all people who should have known who He was, it was His mother and family.  She had to do was recall Gabriel’s visit, or the miracles surrounding His birth.  But, not even that far back; it was only a matter of weeks earlier when she had Him change the water into wine at the Cana wedding festival.

Well, we do tend to forget yesterday and live in the moment.  The highly respected scribes are outside her door and they are saying, “He’s out of His mind.”

Obviously Jesus doesn’t live with His family, for we’re told, “Then he went home; 20…and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”  And then they go to get Him.

This is a story within a story, starting with Jesus family, then shifts to a confrontation with the scribes, who accuse Him of being in league with Beelzebul, then back to the family. 

In the confrontation, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you,” meaning, “Shut up and Listen. This is important” Today He said, “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”

When I first read that many years ago, it scared me because I wasn’t sure how you blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, so I didn’t know whether I had or not…

Jesus said this because, after all the good things He’s done—the healing and exorcisms—all had come from the indwelling Holy Spirit. When the scribes said that it was by Beelzebul He casts out demons, they were calling the Holy Spirit evil and demonic…unforgivable.

You would have thought these men knew better—they knew the scriptures cover to cover; Still, they called good evil. And these were the spiritual leaders of God’s people at the time.

The truth is that evil exists within the church. Some of the most heinous crimes in history began within church walls—think of the Inquisition. But there have always been priests and clergy who knowingly teach and preach that which is not true—those who preach a prosperity gospel spring to mind immediately.  Then there are those priests and pastors who are sexual or financial predators.  And, just as bad, are those who knowingly protect such predators.

All over the world there are pastors doing their best to do and follow the word of Jesus by making the world a better place for others to live. They work hard without much compensation; they help people; they bring peace; they don’t ask for money. They simply try and teach people about Jesus. And, in doing so, they live in the poorest of communities and work alongside the down and out, trying to make the world a better place for everyone—Father Damien.

But they’re not the ones talked about on the evening news. We only hear about those who make negative sensational headlines. Last week it was Jessie Duplantiss—he made national news because he wants his congregation—which is a huge one—to buy him another plane, making it three in all, so he can get around better.  Hey, why not? It’s only $54,000,000.

I heard him say, “If Jesus were around today, He certainly wouldn’t be riding a donkey. He’d be taking a plane.”

I’m not sure, but that is quite possibly blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

The American Heritage Dictionary, says that blaspheme is to speak of God or a sacred entity in an irreverent, impious manner.  From my life I know that the average manual laborer is often pretty crude, coarse and impious.  Swearing is routine—as is abusing the use of the name of God. But, there is something I’ve noticed in this regard: Though there are many curse words involving both God and Jesus, I don’t ever recall hearing one regarding the Holy Spirit. It’s almost as though there’s a built in recognition—like a safety device—of just how far we can go without being eternally damned. And for some perverse reason we push it to the limit.

Another interesting facet of this scripture today is the number of atheists who believe in the Holy Spirit. It’s almost as though they realize they can reject God and Jesus and be forgiven, but don’t go any further.  The number of self-proclaimed atheists who believe in the Holy Spirit is approximately 90% according to a PBS poll taken ten, fifteen years. 

I’ve always wondered, how can you believe in the Holy Spirit and not believe in God?

The scribes knowledge of scriptures made their sin much worse, for they claimed to know. This is made clearer in John 9 when a blind man healed by Jesus was kicked out of the synagogue because Jesus healed him on the Sabbath.  When Jesus found out, He went to the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” 36. He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.”  37. Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38. He said, “Lord, I believe.” Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40. Some Pharisees said, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41. and Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But because you say, “We see,' your sin remains.”

It is probably this reason that Jesus’ closest followers were, for the most part, those working class individuals who stank of fish and swore like fishermen.  They claimed no special God-knowledge and, as a result, were teachable.  It’s hard to teach someone who thinks know more than you.

The church that was founded after Christ died is often referred to as a family.  Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit upon the earth for all who are willing to accept.  All those who are truly willing to accept are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This indwelling changes lives.  And as our lives change, so do the fruits of our living…the liar becomes honest, the thief no longer steals. 

 

None of us truly deserve to be indwelt—we all sin and fall short of God’s Grace. It is only by God’s loving forgiveness that we are.  And all in whom the Holy Spirit finds a home, are elevated to a new status as members of God’s family and become the brothers and sisters of Jesus. 

Amen