Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
The Society for the Promotion of Madness Among the Respectable Classes
Anyone who goes against the grain of acceptable society has a good chance of being considered mad. Jesus was said to be crazy, Paul was called mad, Francis of Assisi, William Carey – many people who were singularly focused on Christ and His mission will always be going counter to what the culture holds as acceptable. We as the church today are too respectable, too cautious, too normal – Jesus is considered mad, because he pushed against the accepted norm.
The Crowds Gather (vv. 7-12)
7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
(v. 9) Mark doesn’t tell us if he uses the boat or not, but for the first time in the gospel we are getting the idea that there are so many people that it is dangerous; there is a concern of literally being crushed to death by people pushing in to touch Him.
The word for crush used here “means to press hard or to squeeze into a tight place. It was used of pressing grapes in order to extract the juice,” so he wanted a boat so that they could push off from the shore and get some distance.
(v. 10) “all who had diseases” – the word that’s used for diseases is same word for plagues, meaning a widespread disease such as influenza. Many thought that by just touching him, they would be healed, so they were pressing in, pushing to touch him.
(v. 12) uses the imperfect tense four times meaning that something keeps on happening. “The unclean spirits keep on beholding,” Jesus. They kept on falling down before” him. And they kept on crying out,” You are the Son of God,” and Jesus kept on rebuking them that they should be quiet.
Jesus Selects the Twelve Disciples (vv. 13-19)
13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
This is the second time so far that have a sense of crisis in Jesus’s ministry. Luke (6:2) tells us that Jesus went up on the mountain to pray, and that this time of prayer went all night. Emerging from this time of prayer and from the group he had invited “up the mountain,” He then chose from them 12 – that he called “apostles.”
Apostle – a title denoting a commissioned messenger or ambassador. In Israelite history during the Diaspora, apostles were sent out to collect taxes. They usually traveled in pairs, these men sometimes preached or taught in synagogues, but their commission ended with their return to Jerusalem. The rabbinic term for such agents was shaliah.
In the OT, the term shaliah is used for four figures; Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and Ezekiel, in the sense of God’s agent by reason of power committed to them to perform miracles on God’s behalf. Jesus is going to send out the apostles as His agents (Son of God), with His authority to preach His message, and to exercise power by casting out demons (overthrowing Satan) and preaching the gospel.
Mark tells us that there were three purposes given for Jesus choosing the 12, “so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons”— They would not be ready to be sent out, until they had been with Jesus for some time and had been trained by Him, (1) to be with him (2) to preach and (3) to cast out demons.
There is an order given here; the disciples/apostles are to be with Jesus, before they go out to preach and cast out demons. They needed to know Jesus, to know the truth of the gospel before they can have any meaningful ministry on His behalf. Jesus says, “Come,” and then “Go.”
“This double ministry of preaching and healing was to mark their work.” Jesus is gathering the apostles and will eventually be sending them out on mission. We will also see below that Jesus’s enemies are gathering to bring Him and His ministry to an end. There are two forces with a strategy, intentionality, drive, etc.
Jesus will continue to preach and teach the multitudes, but now we see He begins to focus a lot of effort on this group of 12. Isaiah 60:22 says “The least one shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation;” one trained and dedicated disciple becomes far mightier than a thousand casual hearers.
Attributing Good and Evil (vv. 20-27)
20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” 22 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.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 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.
Jesus’s Family Attributes His Behavior (vv. 20-21)
The crowds lingered while Jesus and his select group were up on the mountain. They return to Jesus’s home and the crowd forms again. There are so many people in the house that they can’t rest, can’t sleep, they can’t even eat, and we don’t see Him preaching here (again perhaps because there are just so many people pressing in.)
Erasmus believes that the “so that they could not even eat” is a reference to the crowd – that there are so many people gathered, in such a short period of time, that food is running out for everyone. It could also mean, that so many people were in the house that they could not prepare a meal (in the kitchen).
Jesus’s family are concerned about his health – he’s not eating, not sleeping, staying up all night praying, he’s physically tired and exhausted. So, they are looking for Him to physically seize him (this word also means to arrest) to take care of Him. They are saying, “all this has gone too far, we are concerned about you and your health, you need to take a break from all this. You need to stop.”
It is possible to love someone and want to see that they are healthy, happy, safe – and be working against the plan that God has for them. Here Jesus’s family don’t understand what He is called to do, so they are inadvertently working against God’s plan. Remember they have traveled from Nazareth to Capernaum to seize him.
Jesus’ Enemies Attribute his Behavior (vv. 22)
(v. 22) begins with “And” – Jesus’ own family are hunting for him to seize him, to make him stop “and” now the scribes are back. They’ve been talking, and planning, and scheming, and now are seeking to discredit Jesus by making the claim that His power to heal is from Satan. Remember, Jesus had not just cast out one or two demons but many, and “they fell down before him and cried out.”
“It is possible that they were official emissaries from the Great Sanhedrin who came to examine Jesus’ miracles and to determine whether Capernaum should be declared a “seduced city,” the prey of an apostate preacher. Such a declaration required a thorough investigation made on the spot by official envoys in order to determine the extent of the defection and to distinguish between the instigators, the apostles, and the innocent.”
(v. 22) “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul” The intention of what Jesus is saying is not immediately obvious in English, but the name Beelzebul means “lord of the heavenly dwelling” or “lord of the heavenly house.”
Jesus is asserting that by casting out demons He had entered into the strong man’s house (Beelzebul, “lord of the flies” or the “lord of the heavenly house”) and had spoiled his goods! He was able to do this because He was stronger than the “strong man” and bound him. If Satan cannot cast our Satan, then one greater and stronger than Satan must be present! The only one greater than Satan is God himself!”
Jesus’s argument goes like this, “I have just cast out demons. Now if I am doing it by Satan’s power, then Satan is actually working against himself. But that would be absurd. Just as a house (v. 25) or a kingdom (v. 24) cannot stand if it is divided against itself or opposes itself, so Satan will bring about his own destruction by working against himself (v. 26). Furthermore, in order to enter the house of a strong man and plunder it, one must first tie up the strong man (v. 27).”
How can Satan be overcome by the use of Satan’s methods and power? How can we accomplish good ends by evil means? Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech “A House Divided” says, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
Their accusations now brand Jesus’ work as unlawful, and he is consigned to the category of a magician. He will continually be charged with sorcery.
Jesus’s Warning to Those That Get It Wrong (vv. 28-30)
28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
This is meant to be understood as a solemn statement, “I tell you the truth.” Forgiveness is available for all sins and blasphemies of men, except one, the “blasphemes against the Holy Spirit.” and Jesus goes on to say that it is an eternal sin – the unpardonable sin.
“Ascribing to Satan what is perhaps the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit, that of rescuing those who are in Satan’s power.” One who does this not only rejects moral values but reverses them. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit denotes the conscious and deliberate rejection of the saving power and grace of God released through Jesus’ word and actions. When Jesus released a person from the stronghold of Satan it was a revelation of the Kingdom of God and this revelation called for a decision.
The scribes were so set on rejecting Jesus and his message of forgiveness or sin, and their rejecting that the miracles prove that He was the Son of God – that they lost the ability to discern good from evil. There will be people who are so set on rejecting Jesus, in favor of their own sin, that they can no longer see sin for what it is. Hobbs says, that with the Holy Spirit moved out, “No conviction, no repentance; no repentance, no faith; no faith, no salvation. Thus the unpardonable sin.”
Family Tension (vv. 31-35)
31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
There are many believers who have faced this tension in their lives. Jesus said, Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus calls us to be His disciple, and in that we distance ourselves from our biological family. This not a battle with hate, but with love. Missionaries who leave their families behind for the sake of sharing the gospel to a lost people group have to have this battle.
Love for biological family can put up walls, close highways, and stop the calling of a person. “A family should be a harbor from which the ship leaves to sail the sea, and not a dock where it ties up and rots.”
Life for me has almost come full circle. I left my home at 20 to pursue a calling into ministry (which is by far easier), and now the ships are leaving our harbor to sail upon life’s sea.
“And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him.” They are asking Jesus to stop his ministry, because they want what they feel is best for Him (safety, health, provision, stability, etc.) at the expense of the greater need for the salvation of others.
 George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1980) 691.
 Herschel Hobbs, An Exposition of the Four Gospels, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1970) 57.
 George Arthur Buttrick, Dictionary Editor, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Volume A-D (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1980) 171.
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1930) 280.
 This is the first occurrence of the word parable in the book of Mark, a parable “is a unique literary device consisting of riddles, metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech, even at times allegory.
 Alexander Balman Bruce, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Grand Rapids Book Manufacturing, Inc. 1967) 360.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 644.
 William L. Lane, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdsmans Publishing, 1974) 141.
 James McGowan, Twenty-First Century Biblical Commentary Series, The Gospel of Mark (Chattanooga, Tennessee; AMG Publishers, 2006) 40.
 Gaebelein, 645.
 Lane, 145.
 Hobbs, 65.