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The Basin and Towel

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The Formational Pastor

Mark 3:20-30 – The sin against the Holy Spirit?

A post from The Formational Pastor

For June 10, 2012 (Proper 5 / Second Sunday after Pentecost)

The against the Holy Spirit is said by Jesus to be the one sin that is unforgivable.  But why?

The classic answer is that it involves stubborn and persistent resistance to the work of the Holy Spirit, resulting in terminal unbelief for the individual.  But that’s only one aspect of this sin.  There are at least two more, which we might infer from the rest of the story.

Aspect #2:  Imagine you are one of the crowd sitting around Jesus, hearing this exchange.  Imagine you are someone from whom He has cast out demons – maybe Mary Magdalene, from whom He cast out seven demons.  Your life has been turned upside down – you’ve been totally transformed – and now all you want to do is to follow this Jesus and devote everything you are and have to Him in love.  Now there come some people from Jerusalem and say to you, in effect, “The demons you had were like some gang of local punks, but this Jesus is the head of a ruthless cartel.”  Would that shake your faith foundation?  Would that cause you to doubt or wonder?  Whether it would or not, that kind of tactic from those men has no other purpose than to undermine your faith in Jesus, and that is part two of the sin against the Holy Spirit who has been working hard to strengthen that faith day by day.  Empowered living, lies and distortions, re-wounding

Aspect #3:  The fact that Jesus begins His response to these men by saying “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand” means that He views this not simply as an issue of personal faith, but ultimately as an issue involving the clash of the Kingdom of Heaven with the kingdom of Satan.

Pericopes for June 17, 2012 (Proper 6 / Third Sunday after Pentecost)

From The Formational Pastor

Ezekiel 17:22-24 – The Cedar Tree

Core longings: Significance (the shoot on a lofty mountain); purpose (the splendid cedar bears fruit and gives shelter)

Emotional upheaval / dysfunctional behaviors: We might respond to the pain from wounds of belittling or marginalizing by retreating further into insignificance; or we might respond to the pain of perceived insignificance with a manufactured sense of purpose. How wonderful it would be to be a tall cedar, standing on a mountaintop to be admired by everyone! But only Jesus, who is Lord of all, can restore true significance by restoring life and fecundity to those who are wounded. And perhaps the purpose of the Lord is not what we would have imagined, yet vastly more important – my purpose for you, He might say, is to give gentle shelter from the raging elements to some of my tender creatures who might otherwise be destroyed in the storms.

2 Cor. 5:1-17 – Present tents

Empowered living: As we progress along the healing journey the episodic encounters with Jesus, the truths that replace the lies, and the peace that passes all our understanding give us a new perspective on everything that we are going through. We don’t have to build walls anymore – the secure building is in heaven. We don’t have to live in shelters anymore – the flimsy tent of the body is shelter enough. The energy that we have devoted to building defenses for ourselves can now be directed to the healing of others.

Mark 4:26-34 – Preaching to the right side of the brain

Notice how Jesus “did not say anything [publicly] without using a parable” but instead taught to the right side of the brain. He allowed the picture to paint the point, and the imagination to draw the conclusions. More than “sermon illustrations” that prove the point, the parable IS the point. Can we preach only in parables as Jesus seems to have done, or do always we have to make the left-brain / right-brain connections for our hearers?


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