A Better Question about Sides

Then Jesus 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.

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.”

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.” – Mark 3:20-35

Hitch III | Galveston Railroad Museum | August 2020

My foray into sports was in my early twenties at seminary. It was short-lived and not particularly stellar. I did manage to save a few goals as goalie for our sem soccer team; though I was switched to fullback when we played better teams. And my experience playing pick-up basketball was a one-off. I didn’t like the shirts-skins uniform drill. But everyone knew who was on his team and who wasn’t. 

Raise the stakes infinitely higher and the question of whose team Jesus is on becomes much more impactful. The pharisees accused Jesus of being on team Beelzebul:  a corruption of ‘Baal-Zebul’ and may refer to the god of Ekron (2 Kings 1: 2 f.) (Oxford Biblical Studies Online). They were accusing Jesus of being a tool of Satan. If Jesus is Satan’s tool then he can not only be dismissed, but opposed and thwarted on legitimate religious grounds.

Only trouble with this accusation is that Jesus is ruling Satan’s house. He is casting out demons. He is exerting his power and authority over Satan. He is robbing Satan of his illegitimate power and sway. He is freeing captives from Satan’s grasp. He is replacing death with life. He is rebuilding his kingdom. He is rescuing people from the one who steals, kills, and destroys. He is not Satan’s tool; he is Satan’s undoing. 

Interestingly enough Jesus undoes Satan by taking on the false accusations of the Accuser (Satan literally means Accuser). This is not the first time Jesus has been accused of evil. This will not be the last time. And he will take it all upon himself, offering various defences, but in the end being crucified because of the false accusations against him. 

There is so much irony here. When Jesus is crucified a sign was hung over his head: King of the Jews. The Pharisees told Pilate that the sign should have said, “He said he was king of the Jews.” And that was exactly their accusation. They accused him of false claims: Son of God, King of the Jews, Savior, Messiah – all of which were actually true. This is who Jesus is.

On this occasion he points out the folly of their accusation:  “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand,” he says.

Sometimes we want to make sure God is on our side. That’s not totally wrong, though a dangerous question to ask. The better question is whether or not we are on God’s side. Jesus is God in the flesh. He is not opposed to his own mission to seek and save the lost. Our calling it to be on his side, seeking and saving lost people however we may, and rejoicing that God really is on our side: he came to seek and save us. 

1 comment
  1. I really LOVE THIS phrase – so much goodness and power packed into it… “He [Jesus] is replacing death with life. He is rebuilding his kingdom. He is rescuing people from the one who steals, kills, and destroys. He is not Satan’s tool; he is Satan’s undoing.” 

    It caused me to think…
    1. Be a Jesus-doing not a Jesus- undoing
    2. Be a Satan-undoing not a Satan-doing
    … we can be, by faith in the power of the Holy name of Jesus.
    … i am caused to think of my outward actions, posture, words etc in these categories and ask the question, “What are others seeing or hearing, an undoing or a doing and of whom… Jesus or Satan!
    Very good faith exercise! 😇Thank you 🙂

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