By the time we hit Mark 3 Jesus had already shown significant signs of possessing some kind of divine power.
People were healed.
Demons were cast away.
His teaching carried authority.
And people were absolutely blown away.
In the midst of all of this, in Mark 3:20 we find Jesus being accused by the Scribes and Pharisees and religious leaders of casting out demons by the power of Satan.
In other words ...
Because Jesus was doing things that the church didn’t like.
And doing things that the church considered unorthodox.
And doing things that the church itself was unable to do up to that point.
They got on His case and told everyone He was tapping into dark powers, leading people astray, and partnering with the Devil.
“Jesus is a heretic.” And they called Him a heretic, really, because He was breathing NEW life into ancient and long-held teachings and beliefs that rocked the boat of mediocrity and ushered in a NEW kingdom that would forever change the world.
And so I imagine Jesus chuckling before turning to tell them how ridiculous their accusation was because why in the world would Satan cast out Satan?
“How can Satan cast out Satan?!”, he asked.
Like, that makes sense - if Satan is casting out Satan then Satan is trying to take down his own kingdom and any kingdom, says Jesus, “that is divided against itself cannot stand.”
Common sense, really.
Then Jesus says something very interesting. He says ...
“No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.”
Normally when we read that or hear this story in church we assume that ...
The strong man is Satan.
And the stronger man who ties up the strong man is Jesus.
... And so we assume Jesus is saying that no one can take down the Kingdom of Darkness without first tying up the Kingdom’s leader, Satan, which Jesus Himself has done thus making it possible to cast out demons and take down evil.
That’s a logical explanation, but what if it means something else? Like, what if there’s another way to understand it? Another layer of meaning? What if we turn the diamond of this story a little bit more so that the light hits it a little bit differently, revealing a deeper Truth?
In his commentary on Mark, ‘Binding the Strong Man’, Ched Myers says that the Greek term that Mark used for ‘goods’ refers to ‘utensils of various materials’. The only other time this word appears in all of Mark is later in chapter 11, verse 16 when Jesus cleansed the Temple and drove out all of the money changers and their ‘goods’.
This, says Myers, isn’t an accident - Mark knew that he used that word in those two places and in ONLY those two places. And so what if that word “goods” is the key to understanding Jesus’ words?
Like, what if instead of Jesus saying that He’s tied up Satan so that He can plunder his evil ways and cast out his demonic workers, what if Jesus is (instead) saying something a little more shocking?
What if He’s saying that He has come to tie up the voices of the Temple leaders - the scribes, the Pharisees, the pastors and teachers of His day - so that He can cast their goods, their evil words of ...
... out of the Temple?
Follow me here.
The goods that He cleansed the Temple of in 11:16 were goods that people had to buy in order to make sacrifices to God that would appease His supposed anger, earn His forgiveness, get on His good side, etc. This ticked Jesus off because religious leaders were in a sense making a decent amount of money by playing on people’s exaggerated fear of an angry God who would get them if they didn’t offer the right sacrifice.
“Enough of this”, Jesus said, and then He made a whip, flipped over the tables, and threw them all out.
And so, again, what if the strong man that Jesus is tying up is this idea being spewed by the Temple that people need to earn God’s love?
That they need to earn God’s forgiveness?
That they need to do the right things, say the right things, believe the right things, make the right sacrifices in order to be loved and accepted and welcomed and included as part of the “IN” group?
And what if Jesus did that way back then so that you and I would have a model to follow in doing the same thing in 2018?
What I wanted to tell you today is that Jesus has bound the strong man. The voices in your life and in your head and in your heart or in your family or in your church or in your circle of friends or on your Facebook page ... the ones that scream and shout that you aren’t good enough and that because of what you did last night or last year or when you were younger you aren’t accepted or loved or welcomed by God - they are all lies, and Jesus has bound them so that you and I can plunder them and not be held prisoner by their words.
Yes, Jesus has BOUND the strong man. He has BOUND the voices. He has BOUND the lies. And now you and I are free to plunder his evil goods and throw them out of our lives, out of our hearts, out of our minds just as He threw them out of the Temple some 2,000 years ago.
Another thing that I wanted to tell you is that you are free to not only do this for yourself, but are called to do the same for others.
Guys, there is a whole world of people out there who don’t feel welcomed by the church.
Whether it’s the LGBTQ community.
The woman down the street who has been divorced 4 times.
The guy who committed adultery.
The kid who’s addicted to drugs.
The husband who comes home from the bar every night at 2am.
... There’s an entire world of people who for one reason or another have caved to the voices of the strong man - the voices that tell them they aren’t good enough, aren’t accepted, aren’t included, and aren’t part of the “WE” that is loved and accepted by God, but are part of them “THEM” that God is upset with, mad at, fed up with - and you and I have been given the authority of Jesus Himself to march into the Temple of their minds, throw out those evil goods, tell them they are loved and accepted and included, and invite them to come into the presence of their ever-loving Creator just as they are, no strings attached.
Yes, there’s a world of thirsty people out there who’s hearts and minds are parched from the desert heat of condemnation and you and I have the Living Water of the Savior, Jesus, who can make sure they are filled up with love and acceptance and grace so that they Never. Thirst. Again.
Go fill somebody up today.