January 27, 2020 (Monday) - The Blasphemers - A Reflection on Mark 3:22-30

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 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.

“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.”

The matter of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit and not being forgiven for it has troubled Christians for ages, but since I have already spoken about it at least a couple of times (see January 28, 2019 - The Unforgiveable Sin - https://youtu.be/taRS2o5CJTo), I want to talk about something that troubles ME and should trouble every believer: blasphemy against God. I find it very upsetting that there is hardly a movie or TV show that doesn’t have somebody in it saying ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christ’ as a swear word.

But that is blasphemy at its least offensive. Netflix is running a Brazilian comedy that depicts Jesus as gay. Millions of people signed an online petition to have the film removed from the service, which might have contributed in getting a Brazilian court to suspend the film. However, a day later the Supreme Court president overturned the ruling. A few people decided to show their displeasure by attacking the headquarters of the group that was responsible for the production.

But even this is not blasphemy at its worst. I am not going to get into details about the outrageous things that people do or say — I’m sure you are only too well aware; rather, I’d like to talk about what our response should be. We get a clue from today’s passage. When the scribes accuse Jesus of being possessed by Beelzebul, he doesn’t get ill-tempered or sulky; he points people to God and explains who God is!!! Instead of getting angry, he explains the flaws in his accuser's reasoning, then goes on to challenge them about what is driving them.

We can’t get angry with these people. For one, they don’t know what they are doing. For another, Jesus tells us not to retaliate in anger. “Do not resist an evil person,” he says. "If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:39). He himself never struck a blow in anger. In the Garden of Gethsemane when one of his apostles drew a sword to defend Jesus, Jesus said, "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).

But what we can do is use these things as an opportunity to talk about who Jesus is. I remember when The Da Vinci Code was released years ago. While most of the church fumed, I used it to engage a lot of people in dialog and helped them know who Jesus was and what he was about. We can do that. What we can also do is to refrain from blaspheming God ourselves. So many good Christians so carelessly toss the name of the Lord in vain. If we stop doing that, others will stop doing it as well.

Like everything I speak about here, try it and see.