Looking West from The Jump Up, north of Itjinpiri on the way to Amata, 1995

What is truly evil?

Mark 3:13 He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 16 So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Then he went home....

 

We speak of mountain top experiences because we know there is something special about high places. They are what some people call "thin places," places where another reality seems to break into our own. So a mountain top is a suitable place to have Jesus call his disciples. People listening to the book being read have just heard him called the Son of God. Of course the Son of God will be on the mountain to hear God- just like Moses and Elijah!

in the original gospels there is no punctuation and so it can be difficult sometimes to be clear when one thought ended and another began or if a phrase was at the end of one sentence or the beginning of another if you get what i mean you will see an example in mark 3:20

Then he went home. At the end of the choosing of the twelve, high up on the mountain, he simply went home. This is real life. Even the great and holy have to go home.... A life which wants greatness without the mundane is only a dream. True greatness comes when we are faithful through the mundane, and despite the mundane.

Or perhaps the point, with different punctuation, is that there is no mundane. The work will follow us everywhere. Being like Jesus means that sometimes there is not even time to eat. It costs us the regard of our family who are too anxious to see our calling. And leads to bitter hatred and slander from those who resent us.

3:20 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. 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 issue of family is difficult. Our mums and dads never cease to worry! They do have wisdom about life that we can learn from. As the young we typically don't listen! As the young we also have some new insights. We can teach our parents some new things. But, now I am older, I realise I had much less new knowledge than I thought, and could have listened better.

We should probably all go a little slowly, and not let the naysayers in our community and in our church, spook us into restraining members of our family whose only problem is that they are right! For "family" here, we could also read "church family."

What does the world do when someone is too popular , and too right? Lie. Spread evil rumour to the point of death. He casts out evil by the spirit of evil. Being good, or even godly, is no defence against hatred and evil from others. Indeed, as much as godliness is a welcome refreshment for some, and deeply attractive, it seems also to attract hatred. Those who are exposed by it will not often repent. More likely, they will seek to destroy what has exposed their short-comings. Would be disciples, be warned! Goodness will have you hated. Being right is no defence against those who are wrong, or evil.

There is a rich thumbnail sketch of what is truly evil in this text. 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." To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is truly evil. In a Reality where every other thing will be forgiven, one thing is not; to call what us truly Good "evil," is unforgivable.

There is a great warning here. To resist someone by slander and libel, to paint what is Good as bad, is to skirt the edges of irredeemable evil. For those who opposed Jesus by essentially calling him the Devil, there was no going back. When we let our fear, our anger, or our hatred drive us this far against our opponents, we are truly lost.

Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 


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