Scripture: Mark 3:19 Then (Jesus) went home; 20 and 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. … 28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Observation: Here Jesus talks about the “unpardonable sin” of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. What exactly does that mean? Here’s a quote from the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, “Depending on the situation, the weight could fall on the fact that sins can be forgiven as long as people do not cut themselves off from the source of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit.” In other words, in accusing the acts of the Holy Spirit (casting out demons) to be from Beelzebub (Satan), the scribes (a group of religious leaders) in question have cut themselves off from the source of forgiveness.
Application: I admit this distinction of “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” is still not crystal clear to me. There are several other interpretations in my bible resources I did not mention here, but none is any more definitive. I suppose if I accuse the works of God (Father, Son, or Holy Spirit) as being the works of Satan, I would be guilty of blaspheming against God – and seriously confused. Yet I need not worry about these mysterious saying in Mark, nor do you. When we seek forgiveness from the Lord it is given. Period. Rest easy my sisters and brothers.
Prayer: Lord, I believe one of the primary sins of the religious leaders in your day was their presumptuous confidence they were “right” and you were “wrong”. You were wrong because you expressed a life of faith that looked significantly different from what was customary at the time. And many people freaked out about this, especially religious leaders. Give us all grace to be open to the work of your Holy Spirit, even if it looks different than we might expect. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.