“And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.’ And he called them to him and said to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.’” – Mark 3:22-27
You wouldn’t necessarily know it from reading this passage of Scripture, but the scribes were intelligent men who knew their Scriptures very well. They had spent their lives studying the law, then transcribing that law, and even writing documents stemming from that law (certificates of marriage, divorce, property, etc.). Even intelligent men can have logical breakdowns when it comes to Jesus. These verses in Mark are a clear demonstration of that logical breakdown. The scribes have heard about all that Jesus has done – the teachings, healings, and the driving out of demons. Logic would have them see the fulfillment of Scriptures as these were the very things that had been prophesied about the coming Messiah of Israel (Isaiah 35:5-6, 61:1). The problem with this kind of education is that it can lead to intellectual and spiritual pride. Many of the Pharisees and scribes we encounter throughout the ministry of Jesus exemplify this pride. Due to their education and knowledge of the Torah, they often put themselves in the position to judge Jesus.
Since there was no explanation outside of the Spirit of God working in and through Jesus, the scribes provided the only explanation they could muster – Jesus was possessed by Beelzebub and was casting out demons by the prince of the demons. Jesus responds to this strange explanation with a logical question: “How can Satan cast out Satan?” Why would Satan cast out Satan? One does not build a home only to then destroy it. There simply was no way that a demon would drive out another demon. What a stretch to associate the work of God to Satan!
Jesus went on to refer to Satan as the strong man who has had all these people in bondage. All those who had been healed by Jesus were held by either physical bondages of illness and infirmity or spiritual bondages through oppression. As foretold by the prophet Isaiah, the Messiah would come to set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1). While Jesus came to heal and restore God’s people, the scribes seem to want them to stay in their bondages. Instead of rejoicing at the works of God, these scribes were threatened by this miraculous work. While there had been some healings throughout the Old Testament by the prophets and the prayers of people like Hannah and Aaron, there had never been healings of men born blind or those suffering from paralysis. Jesus was performing works that the scribes and Pharisees could not perform. He was acting independently of the Jewish authorities and establishments. What these authorities would not or could not perceive is that the person of Jesus Christ was the one true authority under which all these other authorities and establishments had been created.
Jesus was binding Satan, the strong man, who had held God’s people in bondage for far too long. Thus, the power of Jesus far surpassed that of Satan. There was a battle raging between the kingdom of God that Jesus was ushering in and the kingdom of this world that Satan had controlled. The final victory over Satan and his kingdom was won through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. It was an unusual victory for sure. God simply does not work according to the plans of people and in the ways of the world. Nevertheless, for those who put their trust in this work of Jesus, the victory over sin, death, and Satan is secure.
While the battle here on earth can still feel fierce, we have the stronger one living in us and there is no battle that we cannot win through his power. The Spirit of God can do what we could never do in our own flesh. Are we looking to this Spirit? Are we pressing into his power to win the war against temptations and every form of bondage? There is nothing the Lord cannot do.
Reflect & Respond:
Have there been times in your life that you have missed the power of God by your desire to maintain control or to understand? How could you surrender deeper into the power of the Spirit dwelling in you? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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