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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 2/23/2016

Robert Chen

Dear Church:

MARK 3:19B-35

19bThen he went home; 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."

31Then 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."

Even a cursory reading of the Gospels reveals that the world that Jesus inhabited was filled with spiritual beings -- angels and demons. Why so many spiritual beings? The presence of angels makes sense since the oldest angelology in the Old Testament associates angels with the divine council that attends the heavenly court. Where the divine sovereign is, so are the angels that attend Him. Why the presence of so many demons? It's not because Jesus attracts the demons; it's because Jesus threatens the demons because of who He is; and the demons in turn can't help themselves but "freak" out, out of fear of being exposed and cast out. 


This particular aspect of demonic exposure and binding so unnerves the religious scribes that they accuse Jesus of being demonic himself. That somehow with all this devilish dervish of activity surrounding Jesus, it is Jesus who is the cause of the demonic displays.


Simple logic now comes into play. Jesus asks, "Are you serious?" OK, He doesn't quite say those exact words, but He's thinking it when He asks, "How can Satan cast out Satan?" Where's the logic, the logic that you find anywhere you look? A divided house cannot stand, a divided kingdom cannot last, a divided anything will fall apart. It makes no sense whatsoever for Satan to expel himself. Some other power and authority is obviously at work, if only the scribes would allow themselves to see the obvious. But they refuse to. 


Switching metaphors, Jesus invites His listeners to consider this scenario: pretend you want to plunder the contents of a house, pretend that in the house is a strong man who'll knock you silly if you attempt to get grab a hold of anything valuable, wouldn't you make sure the strong man is subdued before you attempt to take anything out of the house? If you understand this scenario, then you can understand what Jesus is doing. Jesus is the one who wants to plunder the house. The strong man is the devil or demons. Jesus subdues or binds the strong man so that the plunder can take place. It's a strange metaphor since in this unique case, the plunderer or thief is Jesus and the strong man is the devil. The point isn't who's who in the story but the requisite actions of plundering a house: (1) binding of the strong man and (2) plundering of household contents. To translate to human life: (1) binding of demons and (2) releasing those bound by demons.


What's presumed in the above case is the power and authority that Jesus has to bind the strong man in the first place. Simply put, Jesus has the requisite authority and power to bind every strong man. That power and authority reside in Jesus because of Who He Is. To confront and destroy the work of the devil is actually stated as a reason for the coming of Christ. 1 John 3:8 says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work."


By our relationship to Jesus, we too are authorized to exercise this Sonship's authority and power. (The book I recommend for you to read in this area is Charles Kraft's I Give You Authority.


This authority we have to bind the strong man in our lives is a wonderful gift of God for us. The gift is actually part of our spiritual inheritance, meaning it is part of what we receive by being a son or daughter of God. Praise God! Let's exercise this authority everyday as the need arises!


Let's pray: Lord Jesus, thank you for the power and authority to bind the strong man, i.e., the demonic, in our lives. Thank you for such power that comes from the Holy Spirit in your name and thank you for the authority that is in your name. May we discern the spiritual dimension of reality with greater sensitivity and with greater confidence. And may we exercise our inherited power and authority for the sake of your love and for freedom of people whom you love. In your name, amen.