11.14.08, Mark 3:20-30

Jesus and Beelzebub

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. 28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”

Us Against Them

We know from earlier passages that the Pharisees are now on a mission to find fault with Jesus, a fault great enough to execute him for.  They know he is a miracle worker, having healed people right in front of their face, so they try to use this against him, accusing him of sorcery and witchcraft, that it was by Satan’s power that he did all these great miracles.

Jesus uses this moment to reveal an important and uncomfortable spiritual truth – that there are only two sides to spiritual life: God’s and Satan’s.  He uses three different and difficult images to paint this stark picture – first, the “kingdom divided against himself”, that Satan cannot drive out demons by his own power.  Secondly, he talks about the strong man being bound, making reference to the fact that he, Jesus, has entered into Satan’s realm to bind Satan and his power.  And lastly, and most unsettlingly, he reveals that there are sins that are unforgiveable – namely, rejection of the Holy Spirit.  We see then a conflict between two sides, with no middle ground.

We’d like to think that there is wide spectrum of how we stand before the Lord, and that there are many neutral stances and actions in our lives that have no spiritual consequence.  We try to strike balances between the world and God, between who we were and who we want to be, one foot in two different boats.  But Jesus lifts the veil and reveals the truth, that there is no middle ground in spiritual life – it is an “either/or”, “with me or against me” situation, Satan OR Jesus.  For our lives, this reminds us of a few practical truths – first, that there is a real spiritual battle going on.  Yes, Jesus has come and bound the strong man (Satan), especially through his death and resurrection, but that strong man is trying to take as many down with him as possible.  We need to realize that there is an enemy at work in our lives, but more importantly, that we serve a Savior far stronger than our enemy.

Also, it reminds us of an uncomfortable and absolute truth: that those who do not know Jesus Christ are not saved.  There are no other options.

Questions:

1. In what ways have seemingly “neutral” actions and positions in your life had a negative effect on your spiritual welfare?

2. Given the urgency that Jesus presents here, who in your life really needs to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?

3. in what ways is this passage a wake-up call for your life?

4. In what ways have you been trying to live both in the world and with God?

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5 thoughts on “11.14.08, Mark 3:20-30

  1. “How can Satan drive out Satan?”
    Does this mean, how can someone who is not of God drive out evil? You wrote that Satan cannot drive out demons by his own power, and my immediate reaction was, why would Satan even want to drive out demons when they’re already on the same side? Or… maybe that’s the point, that Satan cannot drive out demons by his own power precisely because he wouldn’t want to?

    yup, nail on the head – Jesus is pointing out the very obvious, which is Satan wouldn’t drive out demons, so Jesus can’t be using witchcraft and sorcery to drive these demons out and to heal these people – his power must find its source elsewhere. this is a direct response to the accusation of witchcraft that the pharisees were leveling at him.

  2. I think I understand the second point: the strong man first needs to be bound in order to then carry off his possessions, and Jesus is the one who has first bound Satan, in order that we may “carry off his possessions.” Is “possessions” supposed to allude to something else that is in Satan’s control? Or does “possessions” translate generally to beating Satan?

    those “possessions” are…US! before Jesus came, we were slaves to sin and death and the evil one. Jesus came into the world, which was ruled by Satan, in order to bind him and carry us out of bondage. we are those possessions that Jesus came to take away from the evil one!

  3. “Part of the reason why I’m confused with this passage is because I know that the book of Mark is a historical account, so we shouldn’t necessarily be looking for metaphors or allusions. It’s supposed to be literal, which is okay for the other parts of the text, but doesn’t really make sense where Jesus is talking in parables…in which case, you should be looking for metaphors…?”

    hm, just because something is in the format of historical text does not mean that a figure within that historical account can’t use a parable! does that make sense? in other words, if someone writes a biography about me, and i tell a parable to a friend, that doesn’t mean that the biography is not longer historical. you must read the parable as a metaphor, but still within the greater framework of a historical account. haha.

    parables are not meant to be confuse – they are meant to clarify. the word parable means “to throw alongside of”, meaning comparing two things in order to understand a difficult concept. Jesus doesn’t speak in parables in order to confuse us, but to try to explain the unexplainable – the Kingdom of God.

    therefore, wisdom is not needed to interpret a parable – sure, it helps, but the whole reason Jesus uses parables is that no one has enough wisdom to grasp who God is and how he works. parables are an attempt at explanation, Jesus describing the Kingdom in terms that people can understand. that’s why he speaks about such everyday mundane things: sheep, coins, weddings, buying real estate, analogies that anyone could understand.

    try not to over-analyze. that’s the whole problem with academia, that they are looking for insights and paradoxes and whatever, things that are worthy of writing a thesis about, instead of seeing what’s in front of their face.

  4. “Also, what is meant by “blasphemy”? What would be required from us to commit such a flagrant act?”

    i’m no expert on blasphemy, but i think in modern Christian parlance, it can be seen as rejecting Christ. the gospel and evangelism are basically Holy Spirit driven activities, meaning that it is really the Holy Spirit that prompts someone with a decision for Christ.

    so when someone hears the gospel, and rejects it, they are rejecting both Jesus and the Holy Spirit at once. and if they do so, their sins will not be paid for, and there will be literal hell to pay…

  5. I too have trouble understanding the “unforgivable” sin. Haven’t we all rejected the gospel or Christ at one point in our lives? We are changed though… is our previous blaspheming still condemning?

Comments are closed.

11.14.08, Mark 3:20-30

Jesus and Beelzebub

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. 28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”

Us Against Them

We know from earlier passages that the Pharisees are now on a mission to find fault with Jesus, a fault great enough to execute him for.  They know he is a miracle worker, having healed people right in front of their face, so they try to use this against him, accusing him of sorcery and witchcraft, that it was by Satan’s power that he did all these great miracles.

Jesus uses this moment to reveal an important and uncomfortable spiritual truth – that there are only two sides to spiritual life: God’s and Satan’s.  He uses three different and difficult images to paint this stark picture – first, the “kingdom divided against himself”, that Satan cannot drive out demons by his own power.  Secondly, he talks about the strong man being bound, making reference to the fact that he, Jesus, has entered into Satan’s realm to bind Satan and his power.  And lastly, and most unsettlingly, he reveals that there are sins that are unforgiveable – namely, rejection of the Holy Spirit.  We see then a conflict between two sides, with no middle ground.

We’d like to think that there is wide spectrum of how we stand before the Lord, and that there are many neutral stances and actions in our lives that have no spiritual consequence.  We try to strike balances between the world and God, between who we were and who we want to be, one foot in two different boats.  But Jesus lifts the veil and reveals the truth, that there is no middle ground in spiritual life – it is an “either/or”, “with me or against me” situation, Satan OR Jesus.  For our lives, this reminds us of a few practical truths – first, that there is a real spiritual battle going on.  Yes, Jesus has come and bound the strong man (Satan), especially through his death and resurrection, but that strong man is trying to take as many down with him as possible.  We need to realize that there is an enemy at work in our lives, but more importantly, that we serve a Savior far stronger than our enemy.

Also, it reminds us of an uncomfortable and absolute truth: that those who do not know Jesus Christ are not saved.  There are no other options.

Questions:

1. In what ways have seemingly “neutral” actions and positions in your life had a negative effect on your spiritual welfare?

2. Given the urgency that Jesus presents here, who in your life really needs to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?

3. in what ways is this passage a wake-up call for your life?

4. In what ways have you been trying to live both in the world and with God?

5 thoughts on “11.14.08, Mark 3:20-30

  1. “How can Satan drive out Satan?”
    Does this mean, how can someone who is not of God drive out evil? You wrote that Satan cannot drive out demons by his own power, and my immediate reaction was, why would Satan even want to drive out demons when they’re already on the same side? Or… maybe that’s the point, that Satan cannot drive out demons by his own power precisely because he wouldn’t want to?

    yup, nail on the head – Jesus is pointing out the very obvious, which is Satan wouldn’t drive out demons, so Jesus can’t be using witchcraft and sorcery to drive these demons out and to heal these people – his power must find its source elsewhere. this is a direct response to the accusation of witchcraft that the pharisees were leveling at him.

  2. I think I understand the second point: the strong man first needs to be bound in order to then carry off his possessions, and Jesus is the one who has first bound Satan, in order that we may “carry off his possessions.” Is “possessions” supposed to allude to something else that is in Satan’s control? Or does “possessions” translate generally to beating Satan?

    those “possessions” are…US! before Jesus came, we were slaves to sin and death and the evil one. Jesus came into the world, which was ruled by Satan, in order to bind him and carry us out of bondage. we are those possessions that Jesus came to take away from the evil one!

  3. “Part of the reason why I’m confused with this passage is because I know that the book of Mark is a historical account, so we shouldn’t necessarily be looking for metaphors or allusions. It’s supposed to be literal, which is okay for the other parts of the text, but doesn’t really make sense where Jesus is talking in parables…in which case, you should be looking for metaphors…?”

    hm, just because something is in the format of historical text does not mean that a figure within that historical account can’t use a parable! does that make sense? in other words, if someone writes a biography about me, and i tell a parable to a friend, that doesn’t mean that the biography is not longer historical. you must read the parable as a metaphor, but still within the greater framework of a historical account. haha.

    parables are not meant to be confuse – they are meant to clarify. the word parable means “to throw alongside of”, meaning comparing two things in order to understand a difficult concept. Jesus doesn’t speak in parables in order to confuse us, but to try to explain the unexplainable – the Kingdom of God.

    therefore, wisdom is not needed to interpret a parable – sure, it helps, but the whole reason Jesus uses parables is that no one has enough wisdom to grasp who God is and how he works. parables are an attempt at explanation, Jesus describing the Kingdom in terms that people can understand. that’s why he speaks about such everyday mundane things: sheep, coins, weddings, buying real estate, analogies that anyone could understand.

    try not to over-analyze. that’s the whole problem with academia, that they are looking for insights and paradoxes and whatever, things that are worthy of writing a thesis about, instead of seeing what’s in front of their face.

  4. “Also, what is meant by “blasphemy”? What would be required from us to commit such a flagrant act?”

    i’m no expert on blasphemy, but i think in modern Christian parlance, it can be seen as rejecting Christ. the gospel and evangelism are basically Holy Spirit driven activities, meaning that it is really the Holy Spirit that prompts someone with a decision for Christ.

    so when someone hears the gospel, and rejects it, they are rejecting both Jesus and the Holy Spirit at once. and if they do so, their sins will not be paid for, and there will be literal hell to pay…

  5. I too have trouble understanding the “unforgivable” sin. Haven’t we all rejected the gospel or Christ at one point in our lives? We are changed though… is our previous blaspheming still condemning?

Comments are closed.