A notorious Australian

Mark 3:20-35


Chopper Reed is a notorious Australian who Wikipedia tells us:

StMarksWas born on 17 November 1954 to a former army father and a mother who was a devout Seventh-day Adventist. He was placed in a children’s home for the first 5 years of his life. He grew up in the Melbourne suburbs of Collingwood, Thomastown, Fitzroy and Preston. He was bullied at school, claiming that by the age of 15, he had been on the “losing end of several hundred fights and that his father, usually on his mother’s recommendation, beat him often as a child. Read was made a ward of the state by the age of 14 and was placed in several mental institutions as a teenager, where, he later claimed, he was subjected to electroshock therapy.

When he was still young, Read was already an accomplished street fighter and the leader of the Surrey Road gang. He began his criminal career by robbing drug dealers, based in massage parlors in the Prahran area. He later graduated to kidnapping and torturing members of the criminal underworld, often using a blowtorch or bolt cutters to remove the toes of his victims as an incentive for them to produce enough money so that Read would leave them alive.[1]

Read spent only 13 months outside prison between the ages of 20 and 38, having been convicted of crimes including armed robbery, firearm offences, assault, arson, impersonating a police officer and kidnapping.[2]

Later in his life he claimed to be involved in the killing of 19 people and the attempted murder of 11 others. In an April 2013 interview with the New York Times, Read said “Look, honestly, I haven’t killed that many people, probably about four or seven, depending on how you look at it.”[6]

In today’s Gospel we have the revelation of the unforgivable sin where in verse thirty-one we are told: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. [32] And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

We may think it strange to hear Jesus telling the Pharisees of the unforgivable sin in a Gospel text, but in reality what he shows us is the depth’s and heights to which the grace of God searches to bring salvation.

But here in this passage, what exactly had these Pharisees done that would cause Jesus to say that they could “not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come?” The word “blaspheme” literally means “to speak against.” The scribes and Pharisees were guilty of “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” because they were attributing the work of the Spirit to Satan. But is to simply “speak against” the Holy Spirit enough to bring about irrevocable eternal condemnation?

Let’s look at the facts.
The apostle Paul was himself, guilty of that sin. He writes, “Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; [14] and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:13).

Paul had been guilty of saying the exact same things — and worse — as the other Pharisees, before he met the Lord on the road to Damascus. We often hear the name of God or Jesus being used in vain or blasphemous ways, even today. How can God forgive words spoken against His Son, and yet not forgive the words spoken against His Spirit?

Obviously there is something deeper implied, than simply speaking against the Spirit; if not then the beloved Apostle Paul would have been lost eternally as well. So what is meant by “blasphemy against the Spirit?” Let’s consider some of the sinners we read about in the New Testament.

The “tax-collectors and sinners” were acknowledge by others and admitted by themselves to be notorious transgressors of God’s Law. Yet, when they came to Jesus in Luke 15:1

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. read more »

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by Permission of Biblica, Inc.® All rights reserved worldwide.

, they certainly found more than enough grace to forgive their sins.

Take the case of the sinful prostitute in Luke 7:36-50 who was scorned by the apostles when she washed Jesus feet with ointment and tears.

Or the woman who was got caught in bed with a man not her husband in John 8:11 and who the Pharisees demanded be stoned only for Jesus to renounce their actions.

Does God forgive such scandalous behavior? Yes! Both found that Jesus had grace enough to cover their fleshly sins.

What about a traitor — one of the inner circle who forsook the Lord “with his eyes open,” even after he had been warned? Peter was all these; he denied his Master three times the night that the “Friend of Sinners” most needed a friend. He cursed and swore that he did not even know the man. Could God forgive such a one? Yes. Jesus forgave Peter and gave him a place of honor as the “key-note speaker” on the Day of Pentecost.

What about murderers? Surely there is no sin worse than killing another person. And yet, the Apostle Paul, again, had been involved in murder. Even those on whose hands God saw crimson stains that matched His Son’s blood type were told: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

Even murder — even the murder of Jesus Christ — could be forgiven.

All of these sins, in fact every sin that a person commits, can be forgiven. But even so, the Pharisees had not done any of these things; so none of these could be the sin against the Spirit. What sin had they committed that meant they could not be forgiven!?

Understand that Jesus did not condemn His enemies because of what they said or because of any single act. Rather, He denounced them for their obstinate hardness of heart. Their words gave evidence of the evil in their hearts. The sin against the Holy Spirit is not a matter of speech; the words spoke are only “fruit” from a sin-filled heart. That is why Jesus states very clearly: [34] “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” How had the scribes and Pharisees reached such a deplorable condition? By constantly and consistently refusing to accept the Spirit-created evidence that proved Jesus to be the Messiah.

So what is “blasphemy against the Spirit?” It is the final and complete rejection of Jesus Christ. This sin is a denial of the Spirit’s message and rejection of the Lord’s deity. Jesus made it clear that all sins can be forgiven. Adultery, murder, blasphemy, and other sins can all be forgiven; they are not unpardonable. But God cannot forgive the rejection of His Son. It is the Holy Spirit who bears witness to Christ and convicts the lost sinner.

So when it comes right down to it: The only sin, for which there is no forgiveness, is the sin for which no forgiveness is wanted. The Pharisees had so hated and hardened their hearts against Jesus, that they were guilty of an Unforgivable Sin. Salvation is denied them, not because it is not offered, but because they have permanently rejected it.

So what of us. Should we try not to sin? Absolutely. Try to be more charitable and better people? Absolutely.

Will we ever be good enough or do enough to not need Christ as the door to salvation. Never. As never will the door to salvation be closed to those who throw themselves at the feet of Christ desiring mercy.

At the introduction to this message I talked of the life Chopper Reed. Now here at the conclusion I add that in March 2008 he revealed he only had two to five years to live and required a liver transplant. However, he refused to agree to the procedure, stating that while a transplant would save him, he did not want one when an organ could be provided to someone else.[14

Did he lead a sinful life? Yes. Did he die an honorable death? It would seem so. Will he be in heaven chatting to the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther and the Wesley Boys? We don’t know because we don’t know if he committed the unforgivable sin which is to reject Christ’s forgiveness.

And quite simply it’s none of our business to wonder because our business is towards the still living and whether that be to those of Choppers ilk or the saintly lady in here twilight years, it is to bring or remind them of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Christ that we need to know for others when the world judges, and the Gospel for ourselves that we too must hear again and again as we too smell the stench of our own sins.

The Gospel of Christ not twisted, distorted or confused.

But the living Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.  Amen.