Summary: Jesus takes on the strong man (the devil) and plunders his stronghold demonstrating his power of the enemy and mutual victory through Christ.
It was June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo. The French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the Allies (British, Dutch, and Germans) under the command of Wellington. The people of England depended on a system of semaphore signals to find out how the battle was going. One of these signal stations was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral. Late in the day it flashed the signal: "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N---D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D- -." Just at that moment one of those sudden English fog clouds made it impossible to read the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war.
In a moment, I am going to say a word. When I say the word, I want you to think of a person. Okay, are you read? The word is “captive.” Do you have a person in your mind? A person all bound up and in captivity or in prison?
One of the most exciting stories in the Bible occurs in the OT book of Judges. The story is told of a man who had supernatural strength from God. He could lift huge metal gates effortlessly, rip ropes tied around his wrists, kill lions bare handed, and defeat overwhelming foes. It could be said that Samon is truly one of the strong men of the OT.
Recently, the world’s finest athletes assembled to participate in the ultimate competition: the Olympics. In Olympics, all of the abilities of the athlete are put to the test. Only the best and the bravest athlete will go home with the prize. On a worldwide scale, the Olympics is the ultimate strong man contest.
Today lets read about another strong man contest found in the gospel of Mark and in chapter 3:22-27. Lets read.
22 “And the scribes the ones from Jerusalem after coming down were saying, "He has Beelzebub" and "By the ruler of demons he drives-out the demons." 23 And he after calling them in parables he was speaking to them, "How is Satan able to drive out Satan?" 24 "And if a kingdom upon itself might be divided, that kingdom is not able to stand." 25 "And if a house upon itself might be divided, that house is not able to stand." 26 "And if Satan rose upon himself and has been divided, he is not able to stand but he is terminated. 27 "But no one is able into the house of the strong after he entered to plunder his vessel, if not first he bound the strong man.”
I.RECEIVING THE ACCUSATION (22)
In the middle ages, the flickering lights of marsh gas were to many people fairies or goblins; fireflies were the souls of unbaptized dead infants. Many thought sorcerers and ghosts manipulated human lives. Astrology was used to explain things. For example, the University of Paris concluded that the bubonic plague of 1340s-50s was due to the conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.
Long before the middle ages, in the small corner of the world called Palestine, Emissaries from the Great Sanhedrin had come to determine if Capernaum was indeed a “seduced city” under the influence of a magician. This group of investigators sought to uncover whether or not speculation abut this Jesus of Nazareth was true. Reports went out that Jesus could perform incredible miracles. But it was also reported that he taught things contrary to the law and scribal tradition. The emissaries arrive in Capernaum and come face to face with their sorcerer.
“You are possessed by Beelzebub and you cast out demons by the ruler of demons” is the accusation against Jesus. Their accusation lingers in the air: Jesus is possessed by Beelzebub.
The thunder of this accusation has been lost over several hundred years. To say someone is of Beelzebub today does not contain the same meaning? But in those days it was a deadly insult.
So who is this Beelzebub? Well that’s a good question. The word itself comes from the ancient world of the Cannanites. Literally it is translated as the “lord of the flies” or perhaps “lord of the heavens” depending on whether the word is Beelzebub or Beelzebul. It was a derisive term to the Jewish people. Beelzebub was the god of the Philistines. He was the god of Ekron.
This was the God that King Ahaziah had sought, when he had fallen from the lattice work in 2 Kings 1:1-18. Sending out messengers to find out from Beelzebub if he would survive, the messengers were intercepted by a mysterious man. Dressed in strange clothing, he spoke to the king’s messengers: “Is it because there is no God in Israel that the king has done this? Because he has done this he will not survive–but die.” The messengers so startled by the news immediately turned around and reported what they heard to the king. The king enquired of this man. They told him of his strange clothes. Instantly the king named the mysterious man. It was Elijah the Tishbite. King Ahaziah commanded that fifty men be sent to bring Elijah back. But when they got to the prophet, fire descended from heaven and consumed them. A second envoy was sent, and they too were consumed. Finally the last group arrived, and their leader begged for mercy. God had pity on the man, and ordered Elijah to go with him. Elijah arrived in the King’s palace. He stood before King Ahaziah and said: “Is it because there is no God in Israel you have sought out Beelzebub? Because of this you will not survive, but you will die.” First Kings chapter one verse seventeen says that indeed the king died.