Summary: Who is the "strong man" in Jesus' parable? Who's kingdom was Jesus speaking about? Was it Christ's Kingdom... or someone else's? I invite you to read the greatest sermon I never preached.
On June 16, 1858 more than 1,000 delegates met in the Springfield, Illinois, for the Republican State Convention, and they chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. That evening Lincoln delivered this address to his Republican colleagues and the main focus of his remarks were on the issue of slavery:
“Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention. If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, NOT ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand."
"A house divided against itself cannot stand." That's a powerful sentence! Did Abraham Lincoln come up with that phrase all by himself? No. Well, where did he get it? That’s right … he was quoting Jesus.
Every week I meet with several preachers and we plan out our sermons months ahead and when we started working on this sermon series on the Math of God I got to thinking about Accounting, Adding and Subtracting… and DIVIDING. And from the moment we decided on that series, I just knew what text I was going to use for today’s sermon (Mark 3:22-27 (quickview) ) and I just knew I would build the sermon around that phrase: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
I already knew how this sermon ought to be preached. It was going to be a GREAT sermon. It would be powerful and insightful, and inspirational and life changing! I was going to talk about the dangers of division in the local church and how evil it is. A church divided against itself cannot stand… it cannot succeed in its objective.
I knew if I could preach on that topic, this was going to be a real barn burner of a sermon.
And this IS a topic worth preaching on. Divisions and splits have plagued the church for centuries.
ILLUS: I read about a church that had grown to the point of needing a new building. After the building was completed, a disagreement arose about which side of the auditorium they should put the piano. Words were exchanged, tempers flared, and the church ultimately split. The side that “won” kept the building, but they no longer needed the extra seating and could not afford to pay the mortgage … so they had to sell it.
(Tim Seevers, in The Pleasantviewer June 2000)
ILLUS: And I also have read about another church down in Texas where folks go so mad at each other that the church split and then they fought over the property. Each group filed lawsuits against the other group. During a hearing, it was discovered that the conflict had begun years before at a church dinner (pause) when an elder was served a smaller piece of ham than the child seated next to him.
(Jim Belcher, 10/12/09 Sermoncentral.com article)