“…but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” Mark 3:29 NASB
Blasphemes– [Today’s Word has been written by my friend, Matt Woodward]
Have you ever wondered what it means to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit? If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard several sermons, teachings, or even read several commentaries that all said something different. Depending on the denomination you come from, you’ll probably have a different understanding, or fear of what this means.
If we dig into this verse there are several questions that we should also be asking. One question I had was, “Why does Yeshua say that all other blasphemies will be forgiven (in verse 28)?” Is blaspheme something said against God or does this word have a deeper meaning? The Greek word βλασφημία, blasphemia, can also be translated “evil speaking,” or “evil speech to injure another’s name.” In other words, to blaspheme isn’t just in regards to God but a word used in general regarding our speech.
This being the case then, what does Yeshua mean to blaspheme, speak evil against, or injure the name of the Holy Spirit? In my opinion, we don’t learn this from the verse but rather the context. The context of this passage begins at the beginning of chapter 3 and ends at verse 35. It is within this greater context that we find our answers.
Let’s focus on verses 22-25. Yeshua is being accused by his family as “out of his mind” and the scribes are now accusing him of being possessed by demons. Most of us know the retort of Yeshua in his powerful words of, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” It’s easy to become fixated on these words but once again, we must stay focused on the context. I don’t think this statement that Mark writes is about demons per se.
Within the context of this passage, we must also look at things that are taking place during this time in history. How many sub groups, or denominations of Judaism are there? We know the big three: Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. We also know about the Zealots who had their own theology, along with several other fractured groups in the first century. Rather than a uniformity of thought, we start to see plurality.
The Essenes are the biggest group of detractors from community. From their own words, they believed they were the predestined, true children of Israel. They were the keepers of correct Torah interpretation and everyone else was destined for hell. The Sadducees cared about political power and would do anything to keep it. The Zealots were the flip side of this coin and were willing to do anything, even murder, to get rid of those opposed to their understanding of Torah. The Pharisees were the teachers of the people, yet their devotion was at times overshadowed by their pride and zealous behavior to their own rules.
The plurality of Judaism looked more fractured and divided than one of unity. It is within this context that we see the words of Yeshua come to light when speaking about a divided kingdom. This becomes clear when Mark finishes this story, not about demons but rather that of Yeshua’s family finally coming to confront him with an intervention. When Yeshua is told his family is outside waiting for him, how does he respond? “Who is my family? Whoever does the will of God is my mother, brothers, and sisters.” It is here that we see the culmination and closure to this story.
Blaspheme, division—these were very prevalent issues within the community of God. There were groups of people who would use vile words to divide, put down, destroy another people or groups because they believed something different. Yeshua’s response? It’s not about proper theology, but rather, do you do the will of God? It’s not what we believe, it’s what we do.
I’ve had people call me Satan. Others have used horrible and vile words to try to destroy my character. Sometimes it was because of my theology. Sometimes it was my philosophy of ministry, but it was never about what I did to serve and love. Blaspheme is about division because one believes he knows what is best, and he is willing to verbally destroy another because of his judgment. As a ministry that works with broken people, one of the greatest causes we have found here is spiritual abuse. People who have been hurt because of judgment and hypocrisy. Maybe within the fabric of our human nature is the desire to judge others in our spiritual perfection. But maybe this is what Yeshua meant when he said, “but whoever blasphemesagainst the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness…”
Topical Index: blaspheme, Matt Woodward, Mark 3:29
Travel Note: Today is the first day of the Italy tour. I will be very busy for the next two weeks. Please forgive me if I don’t send something new each day and we repeat a few things from the past studies.