Thoughts on Mark 3:19b-27

I heard this text preached last night (here’s a link to it), and it sent my mind off in a somewhat different direction (sorry, Curtis–I did like what you said!).  Jesus is accused by his opponents of casting out demons using the power of Satan.  Now I don’t know about you, but I suspect that most folks, if they were accused in such a way, would immediately defend themselves, and point out all the ways in which it would be ridiculous to see them using the power of Satan.  Certainly, with all the good that Jesus was doing, it wouldn’t be at all hard for him to take this approach.

But he doesn’t do this at all.  Instead, he uses a surprising sort of argument, that comes to an unexpected conclusion.  Essentially, he says something like this:  “Let’s assume that what you are saying about me is true, that I’m casting out demons by the Prince of demons.  If that is true, then Satan is divided against himself, and his time of power is coming to an end.  Therefore, if what you say is true, then what I am saying is also true, that the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

What strikes me is Jesus’ complete absence of defensiveness about himself.  He never even bothers to refute the charge.  He simply tries to help them to see that even if they think they are right, Jesus’ message must still be taken seriously, even if they want to write him off personally.

Wow.  That’s an amazing teacher.  Start with the framework of your opponents.  Don’t even try to disprove them directly.  Help them to see that their own framework will lead them into surprising places, and let them live with the ambivalence that will create.  I can see why the disciples remembered this one.


3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Mark 3:19b-27

  1. Thanks for pointing this out, Jim.

    I just finished writing a Lent devotion on Mark 15:1-15 – Jesus before Pilate. That text also presents Jesus not defending himself.

    When you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life, it’s apparent that the effort and energy and words that would otherwise be used for an earthly defense can be used for a Kingdom Offense.

    The Apostle Paul took this approach to heart. His confidence was not in what he could do for himself to defend (justify) his standing before God but in what Christ had already done for him.

    Jesus was an amazing teacher. And Paul learned his lessons well.

  2. This is a great insight! Thank you for sharing. It brings me back to Pastoral Care and Counseling class where I learned the importance of a non-anxious presence. The message we bring is not about *us* and attacks we receive cannot be internalized. When we internalize, we become defensive and lash out in ways that are unbecoming to the gospel. The truth has a way of defending itself if we get ourselves and our egos out of the way.

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