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20and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27But 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; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30for 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. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


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The Calling of the Apostles.

13 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.   14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,   15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:   16 And Simon he surnamed Peter;   17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:   18 And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphæus, and Thaddæus, and Simon the Canaanite,   19 And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into a house.   20 And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.   21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

In these verses, we have,

I. The choice Christ made of the twelve apostles to be his constant followers and attendants, and to be sent abroad as there was occasion, to preach the gospel. Observe,

1. The introduction to this call or promotion of disciples; He goes up into a mountain, and his errand thither was to pray. Ministers must be set apart with solemn prayer for the pouring out of the Spirit upon them; though Christ had authority to confer the gifts of the Holy Ghost, yet, to set us an example, he prayed for them.

2. The rule he went by in his choice, and that was his own good pleasure; He called unto him whom he would. Not such as we should have thought fittest to be called, looking upon the countenance, and the height of the stature; but such as he thought fit to call, and determined to make fit for the service to which he called them: even so, blessed Jesus, because it seemed good in thine eyes. Christ calls whom he will; for he is a free Agent, and his grace is his own.

3. The efficacy of the call; He called them to separate themselves from the crowd, and stand by him, and they came unto him. Christ calls those who were given him (John xvii. 6); and all that the Father gave him, shall come to him, John vi. 37. Those whom it was his will to call, he made willing to come; his people shall be willing in the day of his power. Perhaps they came to him readily enough, because they were in expectation of reigning with him in temporal pomp and power; but when afterward they were undeceived in that matter, yet they had such a prospect given them of better things, that they would not say they were deceived in their Master, nor repented their leaving all to be with him.

4. The end and intention of this call; He ordained them (probably by the imposition of hands, which was a ceremony used among the Jews), that they should be with him constantly, to be witnesses of his doctrine, manner of life, and patience, that they might fully know it, and be able to give an account of it; and especially that they might attest the truth of his miracles; they must be with him to receive instructions from him, that they might be qualified to give instructions to others. It would require time to fit them for that which he designed them for; for they must be sent forth to preach; not to preach till they were sent, and not to be sent till by a long and intimate acquaintance with Christ they were fitted. Note, Christ's ministers must be much with him.

5. The power he gave them to work miracles; and hereby he put a very great honour upon them, beyond that of the great men of the earth. He ordained them to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils. This showed that the power which Christ had to work these miracles was an original power; that he had it not as a Servant, but as a Son in his own house, in that he could confer it upon others, and invest them with it: they have a rule in the law, Deputatus non potest deputare—He that is only deputed himself, cannot depute another; but our Lord Jesus had life in himself, and the Spirit without measure; for he could give this power even to the weak and foolish things of the world.

6. Their number and names; He ordained twelve, according to the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. They are here named not just in the same order as they were in Matthew, nor by couples, as they were there; but as there, so here, Peter is put first and Judas last. Here Matthew is put before Thomas, probably being called in that order; but in that catalogue which Matthew himself drew up, he puts himself after Thomas; so far was he from insisting upon the precedency of his consecration. But that which Mark only takes notice of in this list of the apostles, is, that Christ called James and John Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder; perhaps they were remarkable for a loud commanding voice, they were thundering preachers; or, rather, it denotes the zeal and fervency of their spirits, which would make them active for God above their brethren. These two (saith Dr. Hammond) were to be special eminent ministers of the gospel, which is called a voice shaking the earth, Heb. xii. 26. Yet John, one of those sons of thunder, was full of love and tenderness, as appears by his epistles, and was the beloved disciple.

7. Their retirement with their Master, and close adherence to him; They went into a house. Now that this jury was impanelled, they stood together, to hearken to their evidence. They went together into the house, to settle the orders of their infant college; and now, it is likely, the bag was given to Judas, which pleased him, and made him easy.

II. The continual crowds that attended Christ's motions (v. 20); The multitude cometh together again, unsent for, and unseasonably pressing upon him, some with one errand and some with another; so that he and his disciples could not get time so much as to eat bread, much less for a set and full meal. Yet he did not shut his doors against the petitioners, but bade them welcome, and gave to each of them an answer of peace. Note, They whose hearts are enlarged in the work of God, can easily bear with great inconveniences to themselves, in the prosecution of it, and will rather lose a meal's meat at any time than slip an opportunity of doing good. It is happy when zealous hearers and zealous preachers thus meet, and encourage one another. Now the kingdom of God was preached, and men pressed into it, Luke xvi. 16. This was a gale of opportunity worth improving; and the disciples might well afford to adjourn their meals, to lay hold on it. It is good striking while the iron is hot.

III. The care of his relations concerning him (v. 21); When his friends in Capernaum heard how he was followed, and what pains he took, they went out, to lay hold on him, and fetch him home, for they said, He is beside himself. 1. Some understand it of an absurd preposterous care, which had more in it of reproach to him than of respect; and so we must take it as we read it, He is beside himself; either they suspected it themselves, or it was suggested to them, and they gave credit to the suggestion, that he was gone distracted, and therefore his friends ought to bind him, and put him in a dark room, to bring him to his right mind again. His kindred, many of them, had mean thoughts of him (John vii. 5), and were willing to hearken to this ill construction which some put upon his great zeal, and to conclude him crazed in his intellects, and under that pretence to take him off from his work. The prophets were called mad fellows, 2 Kings ix. 11. 2. Others understand it of a well-meaning care; and then they read exeste—"He fainteth, he has no time to eat bread, and therefore his strength will fail him; he will be stifled with the crowd of people, and will have his spirits quite exhausted with constant speaking, and the virtue that goes out of him in his miracles; and therefore let us use a friendly violence with him, and get him a little breathing-time." In his preaching-work, as well as his suffering-work, he was attacked with, Master, spare thyself. Note, They who go on with vigour and zeal in the work of God, must expect to meet with hindrances, both from the groundless disaffection of their enemies, and the mistaken affections of their friends, and they have need to stand upon their guard against both.

The Blasphemy of the Scribes.

22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.   23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?   24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.   25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.   26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.   27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.   28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:   29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:   30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

I. Here is, The impudent impious brand which the scribes fastened upon Christ's casting out devils, that they might evade and invalidate the conviction of it, and have a poor excuse for not yielding to it. These scribes came down from Jerusalem, v. 22. It should seem they came this long journey on purpose to hinder the progress of the doctrine of Christ; such pains did they take to do mischief; and, coming from Jerusalem, where were the most polite and learned scribes, and where they had opportunity of consulting together against the Lord and his Anointed, they were in the greater capacity to do mischief; the reputation of scribes from Jerusalem would have an influence not only upon the country people, but upon the country scribes; they had never thought of this base suggestion concerning Christ's miracles till the scribes from Jerusalem put it into their heads. They could not deny but that he cast out devils, which plainly bespoke him sent of God; but they insinuated that he had Beelzebub on his side, was in league with him, and by the prince of the devils cast out devils. There is a trick in the case; Satan is not cast out, he only goes out by consent. There was nothing in the manner of Christ's casting out devils, that gave any cause to suspect this; he did it as one having authority; but so they will have it, who resolve not to believe him.

II. The rational answer which Christ gave to this objection, demonstrating the absurdity of it.

1. Satan is so subtle, that he will never voluntarily quit his possession; If Satan cast out Satan, his kingdom is divided against itself, and it cannot stand, v. 23-26. He called them to him, as one desirous they should be convinced; he treated them with all the freedom, friendliness, and familiarity that could be; he vouchsafed to reason the case with them, that every mouth may be stopped. It was plain that the doctrine of Christ made war upon the devil's kingdom, and had a direct tendency to break his power, and crush his interest in the souls of men; and it was as plain that the casting of him out of the bodies of people confirmed that doctrine, and gave it the setting on; and therefore it cannot be imagined that he should come into such a design; every one knows that Satan is no fool, nor will act so directly against his own interest.

2. Christ is so wise, that, being engaged in war with him, he will attack his forces wherever he meets them, whether in the bodies or souls of people, v. 27. It is plain, Christ's design is to enter into the strong man's house, to take possession of the interest he has in the world, and to spoil his goods, and convert them to his own service; and therefore it is natural to suppose that he will thus bind the strong man, will forbid him to speak when he would, and to stay where he would, and thus show that he has gained a victory over him.

III. The awful warning Christ gave them to take heed how they spoke such dangerous words as these; however they might make light of them, as only conjectures, and the language of free-thinking, if they persisted in it, it would be of fatal consequence to them; it would be found a sin against the last remedy, and consequently unpardonable; for what could be imagined possible to bring them to repentance for their sin in blaspheming Christ, who would set aside such a strong conviction with such a weak evasion? It is true, the gospel promiseth, because Christ hath purchased, forgiveness for the greatest sins and sinners, v. 28. Many of those who reviled Christ on the cross (which was a blaspheming of the Son of man, aggravated to the highest degree), found mercy, and Christ himself prayed, Father, forgive them; but this was blaspheming the Holy Ghost, for it was by the Holy Spirit that he cast out devils, and they said, It was by the unclean spirit, v. 30. By this method they would outface the conviction of all the gifts of the Holy Ghost after Christ's ascension, and defeat them all, after which there remained no more proof, and therefore they should never have forgiveness, but were liable to eternal damnation. They were in imminent danger of that everlasting punishment, from which there was no redemption, and in which there was no intermission, no remission.

The Family of Christ.

31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.   32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.   33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?   34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!   35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Here is, 1. The disrespect which Christ's kindred, according to the flesh, showed to him, when he was preaching (and they knew very well that he was then in his element); they not only stood without, having no desire to come in, and hear him, but they sent in a message to call him out to them (v. 31, 32), as if he must leave his work, to hearken to their impertinences; it is probable that they had no business with him, only sent for him on purpose to oblige him to break off, lest he should kill himself. He knew how far his strength would go, and preferred the salvation of souls before his own life, and soon after made it to appear with a witness; it was therefore an idle thing for them, under pretence of his sparing himself, to interrupt him; and it was worse, if really they had business with him, when they knew he preferred his business, as a Saviour, so much before any other business.

2. The respect which Christ showed to his spiritual kindred upon this occasion. Now, as at other times, he put a comparative neglect upon his mother, which seemed purposely designed to obviate the prevent the extravagant respect which men in aftertimes would be apt to pay her. Our respect ought to be guided and governed by Christ's; now the virgin Mary, or Christ's mother, is not equalled with, but postponed to, ordinary believers, on whom Christ here puts a superlative honour. He looked upon those that at about him, and pronounced those of them that not only heard, but did, the will of God, to be to him as his brother, and sister, and mother; as much esteemed, loved, and cared for, as his nearest relations, v. 33-35. This is a good reason why we should honour those that fear the Lord, and choose them for our people; why we should be not hearers of the word only, but doers of the work, that we may share with the saints in this honour, Surely it is good to be akin to those who are thus nearly allied to Christ, and to have fellowship with those that have fellowship with Christ; and woe to those that hate and persecute Christ's kindred, that are his bone and his flesh, every one resembling the children of a king (see Judg. viii. 18, 19); for he will with jealously plead their cause, and avenge their blood.