As the list of disciples closes in the previous passage with a traitor’s name, here we see a different type of betrayal of Jesus from an unlikely source, His own family. In this passage Mark uses a literary device where he sandwiches one story in the middle of two other related stories to make a new point or to illustrate the point He was making. He begins this passage by showing how Jesus’ family came to “seize” Him because they thought Jesus had lost His mind and he ends in verses 31-35 when His family again shows up to call Him to themselves. They are trying to control Jesus but the middle of the sandwich, verses 22-30, shows that no one can control Jesus because He in fact has total control over everything, including even Satan and his demons.
This passage continues to show the division between the insiders who are a part of Jesus’ mission and the outsiders who are actively working to stop Him. It’s ironic that it is the religious leaders and His own family who attempt to get in the way of His mission. In this passage there is also a mention of an “eternal sin” (ESV) and the true nature of family for the believer. As you study, may God open your heart and mind so that we may truly be a part of His followers.
According to verse 20, what did Jesus do after He appointed the apostles? What did the crowds do? What did His family do?
What were the scribes saying about Jesus? How does it compare to what His family was saying?
Who is Beelzebul? How does the end of verse 22 help you define it?
How did Jesus respond to their accusations? In what way did He speak to them?
Summarize in your own words what Jesus said and what He meant. What kingdom was He talking about? Whose house was he referring to? What does He mean in verse 27? Who is the strong man? What are the goods?
What did Jesus call humans in verse 28? Why do you think he used that description?
What sins will be forgiven? What does it say in verse 29 never will have forgiveness?
What does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit? Why would this be an eternal sin? How can verse 30 help you interpret it?
What did Jesus’ family do in verses 31? Who was around Him at the time?
What did the crowd tell Jesus? How did Jesus answer them?
How did Jesus define His family in His response to the crowd?
What part of the family is added to verse 35 that wasn’t in verse 34? Why do you think Mark added it?
In verse 21, Jesus’ family went out to get Jesus because they thought He was out of His mind. They didn’t understand who Jesus was or His mission and were actually unknowingly opposing God’s work. Is there someone in your family that this could be happening with? Are you standing in the way of God’s work in someone’s life who is close to you?
Have you been discouraged by someone who is close to you while you were being obedient to what God has asked you to do? Are you resentful toward that person? How can you walk forward in forgiveness but insistent obedience to what you know God has called you to do?
When the scribes didn’t understand what Jesus was doing with the unclean spirits, they jumped to the conclusion that it was from Satan. How do you respond when you don’t understand something? Do you ask questions to get more information or do you sometimes jump to quick but wrong conclusions?
In verse 23, Jesus called the scribes to Him to confront their false accusations toward Him. How do you respond when people say untrue things about you? Do you have a conversation with them or say bad things about them behind their back?
Jesus says that a divided kingdom can’t stand. He wasn’t from Satan or using His power to get rid of the demons but instead He was a different power that had authority over Satan. Is your heart a kingdom that’s divided? Do you give the Lord some areas of total control but hold back in other areas where you’re afraid to give over control?
Hearing that there is an eternal sin is scary. Did you ask yourself if you’ve committed that sin? Did anxiety start to creep in about your salvation? This type of sin includes total rebellion and deliberate rejection of God and His Spirit.While it’s good to evaluate whether you are showing the marks of a Christian, if you are asking these questions, it’s highly likely that you’re not committing the eternal sin.
Jesus described His family as those who do the will of God. Even if your family by blood has passed on or isn’t a support to you, you can find close relationships in the body of Christ, the church. Are you seeking close relationships with those who love and follow Jesus? Are you allowing others believers to get to know you? Are you spending time in church to foster those relationships?
Ask the Lord to reveal any areas where you are preventing others from doing what God has called them to do
Pray that God would give you strength to obey even when you may not have much support from those closest to you
Ask God for wisdom to discern where lack of support is an obstacle to overcome and where it is a caution that you should consider before proceeding
Ask God for courage to deal with conflict in a direct and Christlike way
Thank God for His authority over everything, especially Satan and His work
Praise the Lord for the peace you can live in because of His authority and love
Ask the Lord to reveal areas of your heart and life where you have been holding back from God’s total control
Ask for forgiveness for not trusting God with every area of your life
Praise God for forgiving so many different types of sins we commit
Thank the Holy Spirit for His work in your life
Ask God to enable you to draw near to Him and not rebel against His will
Pray that those you know who are rebelling against God would surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit
Thank God for your eternal salvation and His grace preventing you from the “eternal sin”
Thank Jesus that not even His family could prevent Him from fulfilling His mission
Praise God for the support of your family in Christ, the church
Pray for deeper fellowship with the believers around you
R. Alan Cole, Mark: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 2, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989).
James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002).
R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002).