Jesus is the Deliverer and Rescuer of the world.
The scribes who came from Jerusalem were saying of Jesus “He is possessed by Beelzebul, by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 3:22-23.
“How can Satan cast out Satan?” – Jesus begins the logical argument of how and why would Satan cast out Satan? For one, it doesn’t make any sense and Satan fighting against himself would make his throne significantly weaker.
Jesus explains it in a parable:
“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 its coming to an end.”
Jesus elaborates further on his point about Satan casting out Satan: kingdoms and homes, divided against each other, cannot stand. This is both logical and historical. We see throughout history the validity of this parable in our experiences. When there is mutiny in the camp, or on the boat, disaster soon follows. The same is true here. Jesus cannot logically be of Satan, because Satan divided would be weaker.
Verse 27 can be confusing for interpretation. But I say with confidence that the strong man is referring back to Satan. It reads “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.”
If Satan in fact is the strong man, Jesus is telling his adversaries his intentions to bind Satan and free the world from its slavery to sin. I don’t know that his audience realizes this initially.
We can draw at least two conclusions come from this parable. Jesus is not in collusion with Satan and Jesus is the deliverer and rescuer of the souls of humankind.
A question we may be asking is how and when does Jesus tie the hands of the strong man? Jesus ties the hands of Satan when he goes to the cross and offers us forgiveness of sin. Satan’s grip on humanity is our addiction and slavery to sin. Jesus on the cross provides atonement for that sin and frees us from it all at the same time.
I think its important to realize what enables Jesus to forgive us and free us.
How Jesus bound the hands of Satan was when he was tempted in the wilderness and later in the garden of Gethsemane facing temptation. When Jesus faced the temptation of the evil one and remained faithful he overcame the ploys of the evil one. Satan’s ploys have captured every man before and after Jesus. But it didn’t work on Jesus because Jesus is more powerful than Satan. Jesus overcame the temptation of the evil one and showed that Satan had no power over him. Jesus was human in every way and remained faithful to God. Jesus' faithfulness puts him in a unique position to go into the house of Satan, bind his hands and feet and take for his Father the spoils of victory, the souls of men.
What matters most from this text is this: Jesus has provided for humanity a way out of the grips of the evil one. Satan’s hands are still tied and the name that binds them is the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus may overcome the most powerful of demons. The name of Jesus frees men and women enslaved to the evil one because of their sin. The name of Jesus is the name of deliverance. That’s the point. Jesus is the forgiver of souls and redeems and saves humankind. All people may be saved and be reconciled back to their heavenly Father because Jesus is more powerful than the evil one.
Jesus isn’t satisfied with only tying the hands of the strong man; he ransacks his house and saves us. Call on the name of Jesus, for he is the Savior of the world.
Heavenly Father, you have made possible through your Son, Jesus Christ atonement and freedom from sin. I know that every person to ever live sinned, except for one, my deliverer, Jesus. I praise you and thank you for him. may my life make known to others that freedom and eternal life made available in him. I ask this in the powerful name above all names, Jesus, amen.
Mark 2 - Four Faithful Men
I can tell already that this is going to be difficult to write through the book of Mark. Mark is going through the life of Christ at an almost staggering pace that offers plenty to reflect on. There is a lot to talk about from Chapter 2, like the concern over the Sabbath, Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors and even the old wineskin discussion. But my heart always goes to the four faithful men who did whatever they had to, to get their friend to Jesus.
I am enamored by their faith and gumption to go through a crowd of people, dig through a roof and lower their friend down to Jesus. Never mind what people may have thought. Never mind how much work it was going to be to carry and lower the paralyzed man as they did. Never mind all of the reasons why they shouldn’t go through what they did, they did it anyways.
I love this story of faithful men; it offers an incredible challenge to me. Am I willing to do whatever it takes to get people to Jesus? No matter what the obstacles are, am I willing to do what I need to get people to Jesus? An even more difficult question might be, do I believe that it is Jesus that people actually need? When I see the struggles of people around me, do I immediately think that Jesus is what they need most or is what they need most is a warm cooked meal?
A warm-cooked meal may help you lead people to Christ, don’t get me wrong, my point is this though; sometimes we do what we think is most important and forget who offers New Life. People come to me all the time with physical needs, and the root of the problem is almost always a spiritual need. They, of course, only want for me to meet that physical need and want me to leave the sin problems swept under the rug. Jesus saw the same situation, a man presented to him with a physical need, and instead he offers the spiritual help the man truly needs, the forgiveness of his sins.
The four faithful men responded to the need for the paralyzed man to be healed. They brought him to Jesus. They knew where to go for help and the response of the Helper could never have been predicted.
Perhaps that is where I am heading with all of this, we need to get people to Jesus and let the real physician do the work of healing people where they need the most healing.
I don’t always know what that looks like. It’s easy to make a statement like “we need to get people to Jesus” and not put it into application.
I imagine, it’s a community of people making it a priority of their own to go before Jesus and seek forgiveness and healing for themselves. What might work best is an example of faithful people, faithfully seeking Jesus frequently.
Or it might be people being Jesus to others, offering forgiveness and love to the people around them. I’m sure we all have love and forgiveness that needs distribution.
It might be simply praying for people to come to Christ. What I like about the four faithful men is they saw a need, they saw the answer, and they responded.
The next time you see a person in need, remember that it is Jesus they need, and do whatever it is you have to do to get them to Jesus.
The Good Samaritan might be the best illustration of seeing a need and meeting it in a loving way.
Are we introducing our world to its loving Savior, Jesus Christ?
Prayer – Heavenly Father, I do not always consider your Son the answer to pains and struggles of this world. For that, I repent and ask for forgiveness. When the needs and hurts of others are before me, may I respond as the four faithful men did, who were willing to go through significant obstacles to get the paralytic to your Son. As they were faithful, may I be faithful in bringing people to the healer and great physician of our souls, Jesus Christ. As your servant, I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.
Mark 1 - The Gospel in 140 characters or less
After reading through the book of John and then Acts, the writing style is noticeably different in the book of Mark. Attention to detail seems to be lost on Mark’s Gospel, his job is to get to the point, as quickly as possible, conveying only the most essential information concerning Jesus. You could almost call it the Twitter Gospel. Mark writes as though he has limited space and is going to say everything you need to know about Jesus, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This has me thinking, what if you could have only one Twitter update to describe the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Would you mention sin, the cross, or the need for atonement from that sin? Would you simply describe it as “Good News”? Would you reference John 3:16? In a few words, a twitter of facebook update, how would you describe the Gospel?
Mark 1:14-15 captures the Gospel here, “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”
That’s 132 characters if you care. Just enough for a twitter update or a facebook news feed.
While Mark is lacking in flowery description and elaborate story, he covers the essentials of Jesus’ life with precision. When it came to writing about the Gospel, Mark chose Jesus’ sermon that began with these words, “The kingdom of God has come near.”
It wasn’t until college that I really understood the Gospel as the in-breaking kingdom of God. This changed how I viewed my life in Christ. My life as a follower of Christ took on a whole new meaning because of more developed understanding of the Gospel. At least three convictions come from this perspective of the Good News. As a follower of Christ then, 1) I announce the availability of the kingdom of God where Jesus reigns. 2) I show people the way of the kingdom by following Jesus’ teaching and example. And 3) I also give the world a taste of what God’s Kingdom will be like by belonging to body of believers in Jesus Christ who live out the way of the kingdom together, known as the Church.
The Gospel in a few words is this: God’s Kingdom is now available and brought near because of Jesus Christ, through his life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension.
Our response to the nearness of God’s kingdom is to do what Jesus says, “Repent and Believe the Good News!”
A good practice for you might be to write out how you understand the good news in a short, concise statement, that is easy to remember. Publish the Gospel message to twitter, to facebook, or just go down to the coffee shop and share it with a friend!
Prayer – Heavenly Father, I praise and thank you for sending your Son. Through him there is forgiveness and new life, in your kingdom. I long for the day your kingdom will come in full. Until then, I ask for strength by the encouragement of your Spirit to live a faithful life that brings you both honor and glory. Father, forgive me of my sins, lead me in the way of Truth, and most of all, let Your kingdom come and Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven, in Jesus name, Amen.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.