Jesus & The Crowds
After the events in the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus and his followers retreated to the less populated parts of the coast of the sea of Galilee. Apparently, Jesus was trying to create space to move around while the crowds following him grew. At home in the city, he would be trapped in the house and unable to move around or to address the whole group. The crowd was so large that Jesus had a boat prepared for him in case he needed to escape to the sea to avoid being crushed. (9)
This group included people from many different places. It included Jews from Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. It also included people from Idumea, south of Judea, a mix of Jews and Gentiles.
There were people from east of the Jordan, likely Jews and Gentiles from the Decapolis area. There were also Gentiles from north of Galilee, the region of Tyre and Sidon. Those cities were originally Phoenician, but had been conquered by the Romans.
In Isaiah 49:6, God says his servant, the Messiah, would be a light for the nations (Gentiles) that his salvation might reach the whole world.
The crowd had grown large and aggressive because thy had learned that Jesus could heal the sick. They pressed upon him, wanting to touch him and be healed. (10)
Jesus even had the disciples prepare a boat so he could avoid being crushed by the crowd.
Jesus also encountered unclean spirits, or demons. When they saw him, they caused the people they possessed to fall down before him and acknowledge him as the Son of God. (11) They knew who he was and acknowledged his authority over them since they fell down before him.
But they acknowledge it in the sense that they knew he could cast them out. They did not follow him or worship him.
He strictly ordered them not to make him known, as he did not want to be witnessed to by demons. His ability to order them also shows his authority and superiority.
Appointing the Apostles
There were many who followed Jesus. Many were spectators. Some were disciples. We know that Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias were there, as they were candidates to replace Judas. (Acts 1:21-23)
There were women who followed him, inlacing Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome (15:40)
Jesus picked 12 men from the larger group of disciples and appointed them as apostles. An apostle is one who is sent off with a message. It is from the Greek “apostolos”.
We see here that Simon\Peter is listed first as he emerged as the spokesman and leader of the apostles. James and John are listed next. Those three become the preeminent apostles. They are the ones who witness Jesus’ transfiguration. (Mark 9:1-13) They are the ones Jesus took into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. (Mark 14:32-42)
Judas, as you would expect, is listed last with the tag “who betrayed him”. (19) Robert Estienne, who was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555, even makes the mention of Judas a separate verse, further isolating him from the other apostles.
Jesus appointed them to preach and empowered them to cast out demons. (14-15)
Jesus returned home, which was Capernaum. He could not escape the crowds. They filled the house so much that Jesus could not even eat.
Mark here inserts a disturbing note. Jesus’ family went to the house to seize Jesus. They evidently wanted to take him home and shut him up. They said he was out of his mind, that he was crazy. That had to hurt.
It shows us that following Christ can create hostility among your friends and family members. This is what Jesus meant when he said he came not to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)
The Scribes Attack
The Scribes went on the attack again. They came to town and saw Jesus cast out demons. They could not deny that he did. So, they accused him of being possessed by and casting out demons by the power of Satan. They called him “Beelzebul”.
They seem to mean Satan by this term as they also call him the “prince of demons”. (22) Also, Jesus responds by using the name Satan.
Jesus confronted the accusation by showing it to be illogical. Satan would not cast out his own soldiers because a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Jesus also added information about his authority over the demons and over Satan himself. He said no one can enter a man’s house and plunder it unless he first binds the strong man. (3:27)
The implication is that Satan is the strong man and Jesus has bound him. Therefore he can plunder his house by casting out demons and claiming the delivered people for his own.
Remember that the book of Job shows Satan as roaming the earth, but also able to enter the presence of God. (Job 1:6) He is subject to God, as shown by his need for permission to torment Job. (Job 1:12) But he has the ability to come into God’s presence.
Revelation 12 shows us a picture of a war in heaven. Satan, portrayed as the dragon, was defeated. He and his followers were thrown down to earth. The heavenly voice explained that the kingdom of God and the authority of his Christ have come.
Jesus, in his earthly ministry exercised authority over Satan’s demons and resisted Satan himself in the wilderness. Then, a further binding of Satan occurred at the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus, by his death on the cross, disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them. That is why, after his death and resurrection, Jesus could tell his disciples all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. (Matthew 28:18)
In that authority, the disciples could fulfill the commission from Jesus to make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19)
And in that authority, the church can continue to fulfill the commission as we spread the gospel all over the world.
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