Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for September 17

Here’s the Explore the Bible Sunday School lesson commentary for Sept. 17, written by Mark Rathel, professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida.

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for September 17


Mark 3:20–30

Jesus is a controversial figure in our society. Jesus was also a controversial figure in the first century. Mark sets forth three different opinions that first-century Jews had about Jesus.

Skeptics (20–22)

Jesus entered a house and a large crowd gathered inside. The family of Jesus claimed that Jesus had mental issues. “He’s out of his mind.” The Jewish religious scribes affirmed that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul, a name for Satan meaning “lord of the flies” or “lord of the dung heap.” The Jewish scribes, therefore, claimed that Jesus was in league with Satan. Rather than being mere skeptics, the Jewish leadership claimed Jesus was evil. The Irish author C.S. Lewis stated that there are only three options people may have about Jesus because of his claims of deity. Jesus is either a liar, lunatic or Lord. I would add one classification — the deceived.

Strong Man? (23–27)

Rather than attacking his family and Jewish religious leaders for their false understanding, Jesus told a parable that illustrated the illogical nature of the conclusions of both Jesus’ family and the religious leaders. The claim that Jesus was possessed by the ruler of the demons is not only a false claim but also an illogical claim, which Jesus argued by using three illustrations.

First, can or would Satan cast out a demon from a man? If Satan’s kingdom is divided, then Satan’s kingdom will not stand or last. Second, if Satan opposes himself, then Satan and his kingdom are finished or defeated. Third, Jesus claimed to be the strong man able to enter the arena of Satan’s kingdom and plunder Satan’s possessions, such as demon-possessed people or individuals who do not belong to the Kingdom of God.

Within the Gospel of Mark, Jesus performed four exorcisms (1:21–28; 5:1–20; 7:24–30; 9:14–29). The Gospel accounts remind us that Satan is already a defeated foe. We await the return of Jesus when the King declares, “Checkmate!”

Warning (28–30)

Jesus first taught the good news. “People will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies they utter.” This statement preceding the warning is an incredible promise and should provide encouragement. As a pastor, several Christians have asked for private counsel. These individuals feared they had committed the unpardonable sin. I responded, “Your fear you may have committed the unpardonable sin is an assurance you have not committed the unpardonable sin.” The unpardonable sin is a condition of the heart more than an individual act of sin.

What then is the unpardonable sin? The context of this passage helps us to understand. Jesus addressed religious leaders claiming that Jesus was able to cast out demons because Jesus had an “unclean spirit.”

The blindness of the religious leaders was what caused them to claim Satan’s kingdom was involved in a civil war. The real issue is that the religious leaders were guilty of ascribing the power of Jesus to Satan. People with this understanding live in ultimate spiritual darkness.

By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida

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