God’s Word for You
Mark 3:20-22 A strange pulpit
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, February 12, 2022
Jesus Has Power to Drive Out Demons
20 They went into a house. A crowd gathered again so that they were not even able to eat a meal. 21 When his own people heard this, they went out to take control of him, because they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” 22 The experts in the law who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He drives out demons by the ruler of demons.”
Luke tells us that this encounter, or one very much like it with the same accusation, took place after Jesus had driven a demon from a man who had been made mute by the demon, and who could now speak. Mark takes note of four groups gathered around Jesus almost like the four winds (Mark 13:27; Daniel 7:2), some quiet and some blustering and blowing hard. First there is Jesus and his apostles (the “they” of verse 20), here just trying to have a quiet meal. Second is the massive crowd gathered all around, making the quiet meal impossible (imagine trying to sit and eat a meal from a plate with silverware and a cup of wine on a crowded schoolbus in which people keep jostling around to touch you, grabbing at your clothes and hair so that they might be healed, shouting your name). Third, “his own people.” This group was speaking, trying to “take control of him” either by getting him away from the crowd or getting the crowd away from him. This group would have included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and other women (Luke 8:1-3) as well as the wives of the apostles, along with some others such as Matthias and Joseph Justus (Acts 1:23). Fourth, the lawyers, experts in the Law of Moses, who were growling as they walked along: “He is possessed by Beelzebul!”
Beelzebul (Βεελζεβούλ) is the Greek form of Baal-Zebul, “Prince Baal” or “Exalted Baal.” The name was mocked by the Jews as Beelzebub, “Lord of the Flies” (2 Kings 1:2-3,6), and it was sometimes used as a nickname for Satan.
These experts in the Law, in Moses, couldn’t imagine a world in which anyone had power over demons. But Christ has power over all (John 17:2; Romans 9:5). The difficult moments such as this one we must recognize as a part of his state of humiliation, in which our Lord conducted his ministry on earth “with much trouble, inconvenience, and danger.” Yet here, God be praised. The opponents of Jesus raise an accusation which will be easily answered by our Savior and which will help us to better understand the nature of unseen things: angels, demons, and the Son of God. David said, “O Lord, lead me in your righteousness because of my enemies—make straight your way before me” (Psalm 5:8). Jesus took the accusation of these skeptics and turned this crowded, jam-packed house into a strange but effective pulpit. Here was a moment to teach, so he seized the moment and taught.
Demon? Devil? Prince of demons? This is not Jesus. But to anyone who rejects Jesus, what will he seem to be? We must see how great God is, to allow skeptics to attack the Savior during his ministry, since we are taught such marvelous things whenever those moments arise. We will have strange pulpits, too. Airplane seats, backyard fences, picnic tables at family reunions, jampacked school buses, and perhaps, like Paul and Jesus, the witness stand in a courtroom. “Since you mention my faith, your honor, I will be happy to tell you about my faith, which begins with the resurrection of the dead…”
Pastor Timothy Smith