Commentary on Mark 3:22-30

I went searching the Contrib section of my on-line bible for help understanding Mark 3:29 about the unpardonable sin. I came across the following contribution. The author is JC-Ryle and I share this with you in its entirety. This is his commentary on Mark 3:22-30.

We all know how painful it is to have our conduct misunderstood and misrepresented, when we are doing right. It is a trial which our Lord Jesus Christ had to endure continually, all through His earthly ministry. We have an instance in the passage before us. The “Scribes who came down from Jerusalem” saw the miracles which He worked. They could not deny their reality. What then did they do? They accused our blessed Savior of being in league and union with the devil. They said, “He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts he out devils.”

In our Lord’s answer to this wicked accusation, there are expressions which deserve special attention. Let us see what lessons they contain for our use.

We ought to notice, in the first place, how great is the evil of dissension and divisions.

This is a lesson which is strongly brought out in the beginning of our Lord’s reply to the scribes. He shows the absurdity of supposing that Satan would “cast out Satan,” and so help to destroy his own power. He appeals to the notorious fact, which even his enemies must allow, that there can be no strength where there is division. “If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

This truth is one which does not receive sufficient consideration. On no point has the abuse of the right of private judgment produced so much evil. The divisions of Christians are one great cause of the weakness of the visible church. They often absorb energy, time, and power, which might have been well bestowed on better things. They furnish the infidel with a prime argument against the truth of Christianity. They help the devil. Satan indeed is the chief promoter of religious divisions. If he cannot extinguish Christianity, he labors to make Christians quarrel with one another, and to set every man’s hand against his neighbor. None knows better than the devil, that “to divide is to conquer.”

Let us resolve, so far as in us lies, to avoid all differences, dissensions, and disputes in religion. Let us loathe and abhor them as the plague of the churches. We cannot be too jealous about all saving truths. But it is easy to mistake morbid scrupulously for conscientiousness, and zeal about mere trifles for zeal about the truth. Nothing justifies separation from a church but the separation of that church from the Gospel. Let us be ready to concede much, and make many sacrifices for the sake of unity and peace.

We ought to notice, in the second place, what a glorious declaration our Lord makes in these verses about the forgiveness of sins. He says, “I assure you that any sin can be forgiven, including blasphemy.”

These words fall lightly on the ears of many persons. They see no particular beauty in them. But to the man who is alive to his own sinfulness and deeply sensible of his need of mercy, these words are sweet and precious. “All sins shall be forgiven.” The sins of youth and age–the sins of head, and hand, and tongue, and imagination–the sins against all God’s commandments–the sins of persecutors, like Saul–the sins of idolaters, like Manasseh–the sins of open enemies of Christ, like the Jews who crucified Him–the sins of backsliders from Christ, like Peter–all, all may be forgiven. The blood of Christ can cleanse all away. The righteousness of Christ can cover all, and hide all from God’s eyes.

The doctrine here laid down is the crown and glory of the Gospel. The very first thing it proposes to man is free pardon, full forgiveness, complete remission, without money and without price. “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things.” (Acts 13:39.)

Let us lay hold on this doctrine without delay, if we never received it before. It is for us, as well as for others. We too, this very day, if we come to Christ, may be completely forgiven. “Though our sins have been as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18.)

Let us cleave firmly to this doctrine, if we have received it already. We may sometimes feel faint, and unworthy, and cast down. But if we have really come to Jesus by faith, our sins are fully forgiven. They are cast behind God’s back–blotted out of the book of His remembrance–sunk into the depths of the sea. Let us believe and not be afraid.

We ought to notice, in the last place, that it is possible for a man’s soul to be lost forever in hell. The words of our Lord are distinct and express. He speaks of one who “has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”

This is an dreadful truth, beyond doubt. But it is a truth, and we must not shut our eyes against it. We find it asserted over and over again in Scripture. Figures of all kinds are multiplied, and language of every sort is employed, in order to make it plain and unmistakable. In short, if there is no such thing as “eternal damnation,” we may throw the Bible aside, and say that words have no meaning at all.

We have great need to keep this dreadful truth steadily in view in these latter days. Teachers have risen up, who are openly attacking the doctrine of the eternity of punishment, or laboring hard to explain it away. Men’s ears are being tickled with plausible sayings about “the love of God,” and the impossibility of a loving God permitting an everlasting hell. The eternity of punishment is spoken of as a mere “speculative question,” about which men may believe anything they please. In the midst of all this flood of false doctrine, let us hold firmly the old truth. Let us not be ashamed to believe that there is an eternal God–an eternal heaven–and an eternal hell. Let us recollect that sin is an infinite evil. It needed an atonement of infinite value to deliver the believer from its consequences–and it entails an infinite loss on the unbeliever who rejects the remedy provided for it. Above all, let us fall back on plain scriptural statements, like that before us this day. One plain text is worth a thousand abstruse arguments.

Finally, if it be true that there is an “eternal damnation,” let us give diligence that we ourselves do not fall into it. Let us escape for our lives, and not linger. (Gen. 19:16,17.) Let us flee for refuge to the hope set before us in the Gospel, and never rest until we know and feel that we are safe. And never, never let us be ashamed of seeking safety. Of sin, worldliness, and the love of pleasure, we may well be ashamed. But we never need be ashamed of seeking to be delivered from an eternal hell.

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