Proper 5, Year B: Mark 3:20-35: Calling Good Evil and Calling Evil Good

You can see all the lectionary readings for Proper 5, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Mark.

Today’s passage can seem kind of weird. Jesus is in his hometown and he’s surrounded by so many people that he and his followers can’t even eat. Then his family head to get him because people are saying he is crazy. Meanwhile some teachers of the law from Jerusalem claim he is using the power of Satan to cast out demons. Jesus points out what a nutty idea that is–saying there’s no way Satan would cast out demons–it would be like fighting against himself.

“I want you to know that people can be forgiven for all the sinful things they do. They can even be forgiven for the bad things they say against God. But anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. They will always be guilty of that sin.” 

Mark 3: 28-29 (Easy-to-Read Version)

Forgive me for mentioning both politics and Facebook (sometimes there is just too much of both), but my politics are deeply informed by my being a follower of Jesus, so I can’t help that they sometimes intersect. I recently posted this on Facebook, and it seems relevant to this scripture passage.

I’ve been thinking about blasphemy. As a young evangelical, I thought blasphemy was putting a cross in urine or maybe dressing up like Jesus and doing the polka. But now I believe blasphemy is to proclaim God while doing evil–like Jeff Sessions smirking as he quoted the Bible to defend yanking children from their parents. I also remember that “taking the Lord’s name in vain” seemed to mean you shouldn’t say “Goddamn” or “Oh my God!” (Honestly it was still hard to type that.) But taking the Lord’s name in vain is more likely to mean saying God is on your side when you are oppressing people and trampling the poor.

I had forgotten that I just heard this in the Gospel reading a couple weeks before I wrote that, but maybe that was part of why it was somewhere in my mind.

So here in the original passage it was that the teachers of the law were calling the good Jesus was doing in the name of God evil instead. I still think the reverse is also true–doing evil and calling it good and Godly.