Jesus Accused of Using Satan’s Power and Defines His True

by The Most Reverend Sean Alexander, DD, OSB

Title: Jesus Accused of Using Satan’s Power and Defines His True Family
Scripture: Mark 3:20-35

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. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 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.

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.”

The True Kindred of Jesus

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters[a] are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today, I want to share a profound and significant message from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, verses 20 to 35. This passage, a pivotal moment in Jesus’ ministry, addresses the accusations he faced and redefines the concept of family. As we delve into this scripture, I invite you to open your hearts and minds and actively engage with the profound wisdom and love that Jesus imparts to us.

Let us begin by setting the scene. Jesus has been performing miracles and teaching with authority, drawing large crowds. His popularity has grown so much that he and his disciples can’t even find time to eat. Can you imagine the buzz and excitement that must have surrounded Jesus at this time? People came from far and wide to hear his teachings and to witness the incredible work he was doing. The air must have been electric with anticipation and wonder.

But amidst all this excitement, we encounter the first challenge to Jesus’ ministry. And it comes from a surprising source—his own family. Mark tells us that Jesus’ family, hearing about the crowds and the demands on his time, goes out to restrain him. They fear that he’s gone out of his mind, that the pressure has become too much for him.

Let’s pause here and consider this for a moment. How must Jesus have felt, facing this kind of misunderstanding from those closest to him? It’s a painful experience that many of us can relate to. Perhaps you’ve had a time in your life when you were following God’s call, but your family or friends didn’t understand or support you. Maybe they thought you were making a mistake or losing your sense of perspective.

If so, take heart from Jesus’ example here. He doesn’t abandon his mission or change course because of his family’s doubts. He stays true to the path God has set before him, even in the face of misunderstanding and opposition. It’s a powerful reminder that our ultimate allegiance must be to God, even when it means going against the expectations or desires of those close to us.

However, the opposition to Jesus doesn’t stop with his family. The scribes, the religious leaders of the day, come down from Jerusalem with a serious accusation. They claim that Beelzebul, the prince of demons, possesses Jesus and that it’s by the power of this demon that he casts out other demons.

Let’s unpack this accusation a bit. The scribes are not just questioning Jesus’ methods or teachings; they’re attacking the very source of his power. They’re suggesting that the miracles Jesus is performing, the demons he is casting out, are not the work of God but of Satan himself. It’s a shocking and blasphemous claim, one that strikes at the very heart of Jesus’ identity and mission.

In essence, the scribes say, “The spirit that is at work in Jesus is not the Holy Spirit, but an unclean spirit. The power he wields is not divine, but demonic.” It’s hard to overstate how serious this accusation is. If it were true, it would undermine everything Jesus has said and done. It would make him not the Savior but a deceiver, a servant of the very evil he claims to oppose.

But Jesus, in his wisdom, responds to this accusation with a parable. He asks, “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.”

There’s a lot of wisdom packed into this response. Jesus is exposing the logical flaw in the scribes’ accusation. He’s saying, in essence, “Think about what you’re suggesting. Why would Satan work against his interests by casting out his demons? That would be like a king waging war against his kingdom or a homeowner tearing down his house. It makes no sense.”

But Jesus is also making a more profound point here. He’s affirming the unity and integrity of God’s kingdom and of his own mission. The power at work in Jesus is not divided or conflicted. It is singular, focused, and utterly opposed to Satan’s works. Jesus casts out demons not because he is in league with them but because he has come to destroy their power and set their captives free.

This is a crucial truth for us to grasp, especially in a world where God’s works are often misunderstood or maligned. When we see Jesus working in ways that challenge our expectations or confront the powers of this world, it’s tempting to question the source of his authority. But Jesus reminds us here that the hallmark of God’s kingdom is not division but unity, chaos, order, destruction, and restoration.

So, if we see Jesus casting out demons, healing the sick, and setting the oppressed free, we can be sure that this is the work of God’s Spirit, not the spirit of the enemy. Even if it provokes opposition or misunderstanding, upsets the status quo, or challenges the powers that be, we can trust that Jesus is always working in alignment with God’s purposes, always advancing God’s kingdom of light against the kingdom of darkness.

But Jesus doesn’t stop with this parable. He goes on to make a sobering statement about the seriousness of the scribes’ accusation. “Truly I tell you,” He says, “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.”

This heavy word has caused much discussion and debate among theologians over the centuries. What does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit? Is this an unforgivable sin? And how do we avoid committing it?

While the full meaning of this passage may remain a mystery this side of eternity, I believe we can draw some important insights from Jesus’ words here. First, Jesus affirms the reality and seriousness of sin. He reminds us that our words and actions have consequences and that there is such a thing as guilt before God.

But he’s also pointing to the incredible scope of God’s mercy. “People will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter,” Jesus says. That’s an astonishing statement of grace. No matter what we’ve done or how far we’ve wandered from God, forgiveness is available to us through Christ.

However, Jesus singles out one sin as uniquely serious blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Based on the context in Mark 3, this sin seems to involve not just speaking against the Holy Spirit but actively attributing the Spirit’s work to Satan. It’s a deliberate, persistent rejection of God’s grace, a willful confusion of light and darkness, good and evil.

Why is this sin so serious? I believe it represents a hardening of the heart against God’s love and truth. If we persistently reject the work of the Spirit, if we insist on calling good evil and evil good, we put ourselves in a dangerous place spiritually. We cut ourselves off from the very source of life, hope, and healing.

But let me be clear—this is not a word of condemnation but a word of warning and invitation. None of us is beyond the reach of God’s grace. None of us has committed an unforgivable sin. If we turn to Jesus in repentance and faith and open our hearts to the work of his Spirit, we will find mercy and new life.

But we must be careful not to harden our hearts or persist in patterns of sin or unbelief that lead us away from God. We must diligently discern the work of the Spirit and align ourselves with God’s purposes, even when it’s difficult or costly.

This brings us to the final part of this passage, where Jesus redefines the very concept of family. When told that his mother and brothers are outside asking for him, Jesus looks at those around him and says, “Here are my mother and brothers! Whoever does God’s will be my brother, sister, and mother.”

This is a radical statement for Jesus’ time and culture, where family ties were paramount. In that context, a person’s identity and place in society were primarily determined by their family lineage, clan, and tribe. To suggest that there was a bond that trumped even these blood ties was scandalous, even heretical.

But that’s exactly what Jesus is doing here. He’s creating a new kind of family, a spiritual family defined not by genes but by obedience to God. “Whoever does the will of God,” Jesus says, “is my brother and sister and mother.”

Think about the implications of this. It means that our primary identity is not found in our ancestry, nationality, or social status. It’s found in our relationship with God and with his people. It means that the barriers that often divide us—race, class, gender, and age—are relativized, considering our shared call to follow Jesus.

In Christ, we are all equals, all beloved children of God. We are united not by our sameness but by our common faith and shared mission. This is a beautiful and challenging vision of community, one that has the power to transform our relationships and our world.

But it’s also a vision that comes at a cost. To be part of Jesus’ true family means to do God’s will. It means aligning our lives with God’s purposes, even when they’re difficult or unpopular. It means being willing to face misunderstanding or opposition, just as Jesus did, for the sake of the Gospel.

This is not a call to a life of ease or comfort. It’s a call to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus, wherever he may lead. It’s a call to love sacrificially, to serve humbly, to speak truth boldly, to pursue justice relentlessly. It’s a call to live as citizens of God’s kingdom, even as we sojourn in this world.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, as we reflect on this rich and challenging passage from Mark’s Gospel, I invite you to consider what it means for you personally to do God’s will. What does it look like for you to align your life with God’s purposes in your family, your work, and your community?

How are you stewarding the relationships and resources God entrusted you? Are you using them to advance God’s kingdom, bless others, and bear witness to Christ’s love? Or are there areas where you need to repent, realign, and seek God’s grace and guidance?

These are not easy questions, but they are essential for us to grapple with as we seek to follow Jesus faithfully. We need the Spirit’s wisdom to discern God’s will, the courage of the Spirit to obey it, and the power of the Spirit to live it out.

But the good news is that we don’t do this alone. We are part of a global family of faith, a community of brothers and sisters who share our joys, sorrows, struggles, and hopes. We have the promise of God’s presence, provision, guidance, and grace.

So let us draw strength from one another and from the One who calls us his own. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And let us hold fast to the hope that one day, all of God’s children will be gathered in perfect unity in a kingdom where there is no more division or darkness, no more sin or sorrow, but only the radiant light and love of our Savior.

May that hope sustain us, may that vision inspire us, and may that love to transform us until faith becomes sight and we see our King face to face.

Let us pray.

Gracious God, we thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, who came to reveal your will and to redeem your world. We thank you for the gift of your Spirit, who empowers us to live as your faithful witnesses and beloved children.

Forgive us, Lord, for the times when we have misunderstood or maligned your work when we have confused light with darkness, good with evil. Cleanse us from all unrighteousness and renew the right spirit within us.

Give us discernment to recognize your hand’s work, even when it challenges our expectations or confronts the powers of this age. Please give us the courage to align our lives with our purposes to do your will, even when it’s costly or countercultural.

And give us grace to love one another as you have loved us, to forge the bonds of spiritual kinship that transcend all earthly divisions, to live as citizens of your kingdom and members of your household.

We pray in the firm name of Jesus, our Savior, Lord, and Brother. Amen.

Now, as we go forth from this place, may we do so with a renewed commitment to God’s will and way. May we find our identity in Christ, our true family among his followers, and our true purpose in unfolding his kingdom.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and forever. Amen.