Affections: Disordered by Nature – Reordered by Grace

I ought to begin this by defining first what an affection is, and second what my affections are as a human made in the image of God. First, an affection is a feeling or emotion. Secondly speaking then, the affections of mankind are the feelings or emotions of man, given by God for our good and His glory, wherein we find the seat of the soul’s activity. This leads directly to the conclusion that man was made by God to feel greatly. But sadly due to our fall in Genesis 3 we must admit that we do not feel as we were intended to, or as we ought to. We too often find a strong feeling toward that which we should feel little for, and a small feeling toward that which we should feel largely for. Or I could say it like this, we have disordered affections, and must believe that part of my sanctification will be the ongoing progressive work of God’s grace in my soul to reorder my soul. We ought to be glad for such work. Though we do not find it so, most of us do find that we deeply desire to feel the right way about right and wrong things. On one hand we want to deeply delight in God, His nature, His ways, His Word, His Son, His Spirit, and His Church. On the other hand we want to deeply hate sin, of all kinds, especially the kinds that affect me the most. The more God does this in me the more useful I’ll be for Him, for my family, and for His Church.

After the second giving of the Law in Deuteronomy 5, v1-2 of chapter 6 reveals the greatest of commandments or decrees of God. What is it? That I and my family ought to fear the Lord. This is where we begin in thinking over our affections, with the fear of God. This is not servile fear or having a fright of God but maintaining and seeking a proper reverence toward Him. How long are we commanded to this fear? All the days of my life. Why are we commanded to this fear? So that our days may be long. This notion of land to Israel is a reference to their time in Canaan. Does this apply to us? Yes and no. No, we are not physical Israelites looking to cross into a physical Canaan. But yes, we are spiritual Israelites and true descendants of Abraham from our faith in Abraham’s Descendant Jesus Christ (Gal. 3), and we are wandering through the wilderness of this present evil age, awaiting the greater Canaan. As Israel was told we are told, fear the Lord, all the days of my life, not that our life would be long (length of days isn’t promised me) but so that our life would be full and abundant here (John 10:10, 15:11).

So what does it mean to fear God rightly? At it’s most basic it means honoring God as God, recognizing His exalted state and nature, His supremacy, His Lordship…while simultaneously recognizing my low condition as man, and fallen at that. He deserves all praise and is worthy of it. This fear is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7), I should serve the Lord with fear (Ps. 2:11), the fear of the Lord is clean (Ps. 19:9), from fearing the Lord I will turn away from evil (Prov. 16:6), the fear of the Lord is safe (Prov. 29:25), and fearing the Lord is part of what brings my holiness to completion (2 Cor. 7:1). Since fearing God is all of these things, not fearing God is the beginning of folly, impure, an entrance into sin, arrogant and dangerous for my soul, and the increaser of corruption in me.

After being asked which commandment was the greatest Jesus responds in Mark 12:30 by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Does this go against my definition of affections as the seat of the soul’s activity? No, I take heart, soul, mind, and strength here in v30 to be synonyms all referring to the activity of the soul (or heart). We may truly love many things in this life, but above them all must be our love for God. If this is absent we begin in the wrong place and that wrong beginning will naturally overflow into wrong action. So if we want our lives to be lived accordingly we ought to keep first things first, and the first thing above all other things is to love God over all things. Not just for the sake of living a well ordered life but for the sake of God, who is in Himself beautiful and worthy to be the cream of our delights and well of our joys. I do not think there needs to be a contrast between fearing God and loving Him, I also take these to be synonyms speaking of the same reality because I do not rightly fear Him if I do not love Him and visa versa. We must admit though, we can only love God because He has loved us in Christ first. So at the root of this ability of mine to rightly fear and love God, lies the gospel grace that changes our hearts and gives us the ability to do so.

So I see these things this morning. I was created with affections, with the capacity to feel deeply, and this is a good thing. But I am a fallen man who doesn’t feel as I ought to. So God must command my disordered affections to feel deeply about Himself as part of re-ordering my affections. He commands me to do this through the gospel, as a reaction to how He has loved me greatly in Christ. I must submit to this command, and when I do, I find that to fear God is to love God. If this beginning is present and active in me, many good and beautiful flowers will blossom in the garden that is my heart.

Killing Jesus!

In the concluding chapter of the Book of Mark we are introduced to Jesus’s rejection and eventual execution by the hands of the Romans, but what is so interesting about the text is the fact that He stands alone. Throughout the course of some 18 hours Jesus goes from having a crowd of merry men to no one. He goes from being a celebrated possible messiah to an executed rebel. As the story unfolds in the Gospel texts we see His followers fall away and as they do those who stand opposed to Jesus become more emboldened, but have you ever stopped to think how these same attitudes that existed with Jesus in the presence of his disciples still exists within us.

It is easy to say that if Jesus was alive today we would stand and defended him, but that is the very thing peter Said before Jesus told him of his eventual desertion. Why do we somehow think we are more spiritual or better than those who have gone before us, in the concluding narrative of Mark’s Gospel (14:43-15:15) we are introduced to a series of events, each feature a rejection or desertion, and each coming from a variety of motives; So today I would like us to briefly examine theses six groups and how their attitudes can infiltrate ourselves and the church.

His Betrayer: In Mark 14:43-46 we see the betrayal of Jesus by one of the Twelve; Judas. Now of course none of us would like to think of ourselves as Judas, who would; there is a reason no one names there child this. However, If you think about it, the attitude of Judas can often be seen in the church by those who feel they are being disenfranchised, by the church. Here in lies an attitude that believes that the church owes them something and as long as the church is doing what they believe to be filling there needs then everything is awesome, but when the church “changes course” or no longer meets their expectation they take it as a personal affront and attack on themselves. We betray Jesus when our own mission and goals supersede, to the point of division, His mission of reaching the lost and making disciples through the church

Those Who Have Fled: Now many of us may not associate ourselves with Judas, but the other 10 who flee may hit a little closer to home. After Jesus is arrested the remaining disciples (aside from Peter) flee into the unknown for fear that they too may be arrested. Here we see an attitude that is tough on the surface about faith and trust in Christ, but when the pressure mounts it is easy to fall away and flee. While you won’t deny the faith you won’t take a stand for it either. In a modern context this would be to say that your faith is a Private faith. In fear of facing the cost of standing strong for Jesus when it could cost us something we shrink back out of fear. We flee from Jesus when we fear what the world might think about us.

The Denier: The next major event in the abandonment of Christ is the outright denial by the very one who first stated that Jesus was the Christ, Peter. In the gospel of Mark we see that Peter didn’t immediately flee with the others, he followed behind the crowd and traveled to the court of the High priest. What seemed like a victory for standing with Jesus soon turns sour when he is confronted about his relationship to Jesus. Unlike those who simply fled Peter goes on the defensive, at first by feigning to not understand the question to outright attack as he swears curses upon himself. Here we see a perfect illustration of one who stands strong in the company of brothers and sisters, but when the world presses in with its own accusation, they deny the whole truth. This is an attitude that creeps in to the church where we love to be bold on Sunday mornings but Monday through Saturday the faith seems to not exist.  We Deny Jesus when we reject who He is openly to a dying world for fear of what they think about us.

While the first three groups were made up of those that should have followed Jesus the concluding three groups are made up of those who by nature are hostile to Jesus, just as we once were when we lived apart from Him, but these attitudes as well can find themselves re-rooting themselves in our own hearts at time.

Religious Leaders: The religious leaders in the text see the teachings of Jesus as a threat to their power and stability. He defies their religious understandings of the Torah and seems to pose a threat to their very way of life, as he offered hope and salvation to the Gentiles, as well as the Jews. In our modern context we see this is in every major religion (including the segments of the Christian faith). Those who prefer their way of truth and righteousness apart from Christ. This is saddest when it is seen in the context of the church. For when these attitudes take hold in the church we see a shift from turning people’s hearts and minds to Christ and on to ourselves. It is a shift that tells people they can earn their salvation, not that they are in need of a savior. It teaches that the way to truth is through morality and self-discipline, not through the cross of Christ alone. We can become like the religious leaders when our faith becomes solely about us and not about Christ and the Cross.

Pilate: Many look at Pilate in the text and see a conflicted man, on the one hand he clearly sees that the religious leaders are simply trying to kill an innocent man out of envy for his crowing support and his challenging of their way of life, but on the other hand he also has a country to run and a people to keep pacified. He was man who chose to do what was expedient, rather than what was just. This happens all the time when we reach out to an unbelieving world. They may clearly see the reality of who Jesus is, but also see the pressing realities of what it will cost them to act on the truth. Pilate doesn’t kill Jesus because he wants to, but because the alternative seems to high a cost. He even attempts to bargain his way out of the situation to no avail. There is no bargaining with Jesus, He is an all or nothing God. We become like Pilate when we feel the pressures of the world as more demanding then our faith in the righteousness of Jesus, and choose to give up the truth for the sake of expediency.

The Crowd: The crowd is the one group that will always get a lot of flack, and rightfully so, but what is so interesting when we stop and look at the crowd is that there overall goal seems to be to receive their “true messiah.” When they demand the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion Jesus we see that the crowd was once again rejecting Jesus because he wasn’t the messiah they wanted. The wanted a strong military leader, one who would overthrow Rome and return to them power and freedom. The people didn’t like the freedom from sin and death that Jesus offered they wanted power and military freedom from Rome. In this group we see a desire to create our own messiahs out weigh the truth of the Christ who offers true freedom. We become like the crowd when we would rather follow a messiah of our own creation then the Christ given to us by God who sets us free from sin and death.

WE ARE BARABBAS!

The second greatest figure in this gospel narrative, after Jesus, is Barabbas. Not because of who he is or what he had done, but because of who he represents. In that moment on that day he was set free from the bondage of prison and given a pardon from execution, because Jesus took his place. This is one of the greatest realizations for any of us, when we see that we are Barabbas. A sinner who deserved the just punishment due us, one who stood against God and the truth of His word, one who did not deserve another to stand in our place, and yet by the intervention of God we have been set free. We no longer carry the charges against us, we no longer carry the punishment that was due us, we have been set free because he has taken our place. We are Barabbas when we repent and believe and put our faith in Christ who takes our place!

Giving to Caesar and Giving to God

After giving Jesus presumptuous and bogus flattery they posed their question to Him in Mark 12:14, ‘Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?’

The first half of His answer in 12:17 is, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…” Do you realize how startling this would have been to a Jewish audience? Jesus, in this one phrase, told Jews that it was ok to pay taxes to an idolatrous government with an idolatrous coin. This is more than just a clever answer that saved Jesus from the trap set for Him. Many people think that in this phrase Jesus not only created but validated what we now call the separation of Church and State. I don’t disagree with that, I just think that there’s much more going on that the separation of Church and State. There are larger things happening here. Not only is Jesus saying that paying taxes to Caesar is ok, but by saying that paying taxes to Caesar is ok He is also saying that the Roman government is a legitimate government. You know what that means? A pagan government that rejects the one true God, according to Jesus, is a legitimate government.

Mark Dever helpfully comments here saying this means two things:

Christians should be good citizens, and in order to be good citizens Christians are to give to the existing government what they are due.

Government, according to the Bible is seen as a good thing ordained by God that Christians can and should be a part of while recognizing that it doesn’t have to be Christian in order to be good. So every government, pagan or Christian, reflects an innate authority based in God’s authority alone. Yet because of the fall of man in Genesis 3 we now know that all governments do not properly reflect authority, but rather tend to reflect the abuse of that authority. So even though authority is by nature a good thing, we recognize that not all authority is used for good. Within the words of Jesus here we find that even though all governments have been affected by the fall, rather than rejecting government and seeking to establish our own, we must work at government so that it more reflects proper justice and authority. This means Christians are to be law-abiding people, tax-paying people, and people who pray continually for those in working within governmental offices. This is how we give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

Christians are not only to be good citizens, but we’re to be globally good citizens.

Think about it. Jesus could have required that those who follow Him to only obey and pay taxes to earthly governments that recognize and submit to the one true God, but He didn’t. Rather because Jesus taught a submission to and the legitimacy of the pagan Roman government, this becomes a principle that is to be followed by every Christian in every nation. Think of how it was in Old Testament: one people, one nation, one God. It was a theocracy, where all citizens were expected to follow and love God. Now, Jesus says, for His followers it’s no longer this way. His followers are no longer to be looking to build one nation or one earthly kingdom but are to be good citizens of the earthly governments we find ourselves under. Why? Jesus’ “Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Because of this no earthly kingdom should ever be identified with God’s people. Here me loud and clear: Americans are not God’s chosen people. Modern Israelites are not God’s chosen people. Modern day Jamaicans are not God’s chosen people. No, God’s people are a global people. Redeemed men and women who do life in every nation, language, people, and tongue as good citizens showing forth the good character of God in whatever nation they happen to live in.

Now, Jesus could’ve stopped here in His answer and would’ve successfully navigated the crafty question meant to trap Him. But He continued to make another point clear. Not only should we render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but the second half of His answer in v17 is, “…render to God the things that are God’s.”

Notice here what Jesus is saying. The Denarius He was holding had an inscription on one side that said Caesar was the ‘son of divine Augustus’ which was meant to convey that Caesar was a god. This is also held up in other historical literature where we read the phrase ‘Caesar Kurios’ (Caesar is lord) was a common motto in first century Greco-Roman culture. By saying ‘give to God what is God’s’ Jesus is contradicting the coin He’s holding. The coin said Caesar was a god, yet Jesus clearly makes a distinction between Caesar and God, which ultimately means Caesar is not god. Because Caesar is not god, and God is God, the extent of a government’s authority and the extent of God’s authority are different. Governments really do have authority in the lives of their citizens, but their authority is not a universal authority. It has borders and boundaries. Whose authority is universal? Whose authority transcends all of man’s limitations? God’s. So Christians are to obey the government, but Christians are never to worship the government or its leader. Our duty to earthly governmental authority is limited, because we have a greater allegiance to God, and whenever we find these two authorities (of God and government) clashing, we go with God every time…no matter what. This means when the government commands us to do something that is morally wrong, we as Christians, are called to disobey those authorities and obey God instead because God’s holds a higher authority over us.

These things are played out for us in Acts 4. The authorities in place told the apostles not to speak or preach in the name of Jesus Christ and it was Peter and John who responded in Acts 4:19-20 saying, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” So in their example we see obedience to authorities but we see a greater obedience to God. A more modern example is found in Washington D.C. Capitol Hill Baptist Church is a historic church in Washington D.C. When they were founded in 1878 they labored to put Jesus’ teaching about government into their statement of faith, and this is what the came up with, “We believe civil government is of divine appointment, for the interest and good order of human society, and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed, except in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience and the Ruler of the kings of the earth.” Today 138 years later they still hold to this paragraph. They did well, and we would do well to heed it.

Before we finish note one final implication, again from Mark Dever. Because the ultimate allegiance of Christians belongs to God and no nation or government, it is therefore problematic to say that any one nation on earth is a Christian nation. For us, just because the principles of Christianity influenced the founders of our nation, and just because we have had some presidents who were Christians, this does not mean that most Americans are Christians, that most government employees are Christians, that the Christian worldview is the American worldview, or that one has to be a Christian to be an American. No, America is not God’s country. No earthly nation is God’s country. His country is our heavenly country that is already here but not yet fully here.

As Christians, we are dual citizens. We are citizens first and foremost of the city of God, and secondly we are citizens of the city of man. We enter into the city of God by faith in Christ’s work on our behalf, and show our faith in Christ within the city of man by our good works done for our fellow man. Therefore, because we’re concerned with the commission we’ve been given by God to help people find their way to and do life within the city of God (even though many political options and opinions abound in our nation and our own congregation) this is why you’ll never hear an endorsement of any political candidate or political party at my church.

This is where I want to leave you today. Our duty to our government is very important but it is limited. Our duty to God is more important and all-encompassing. Yes, pay your taxes, obey the government, pray for President Obama, and pray for whoever gets elected in November. But even more, trust in Christ, obey Him, and remember that in the end of all things you and I will ultimately stand or fall, be welcomed into glory or cast out into hell not before any government or earthly king, but before God.

A Politically Charged Game of Cat & Mouse

When it comes to religion and politics there seems to be more questions than answers.

For example: does the separation of Church and State mean that the church shouldn’t get involved in politics? If not, to what degree should churches get involved? Is there one Christian position on politics? Does the Bible line up with more with liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans? Does the Bible teach us how to vote? Does God redeem institutions or nations as well as men and women? Should the government compel religion or exclude it? Is the government good or evil? If good, how should Christians support it? If evil, should the Church begin a revolution and take it over?

Different Christians throughout history have responded to these questions in different ways. Some have been so fearful that they’ve run away from the state wanting nothing to do with anything political while others have been so eager to jump in that they’ve run towards the state by seeking governmental office or seeking change by campaigning for various presidential candidates. The rest of us seem to be caught in the middle not really sure how to think about politics in relation to our faith. So wherever you are in this discussion it would do us all very much good (especially taking into account our current political climate) to ask one question: how does Jesus teach us to think about these matters?

For today, turn to Mark 11-12.

It had only been two days since Jesus had entered the city on a donkey, where crowds of people were triumphantly cheering and shouting His name. Ironically now began the terrible game of ‘cat and mouse’, the endless Pharisaic and Roman maneuvering that will end in the death of Jesus. Perhaps it was the incident with the Fig Tree or the moment when Jesus turned over the tables in the temple that moved them to question Him, but in 11:27 we see it was the chief priests, the scribes, as well as the elders of the people who challenged Him directly. Asking about where His authority comes from and how He can do what He does. Jesus asked them questions in return and from being too afraid of the crowds they refused to answer Jesus, so Jesus refused to answer them. After telling them a parable which clearly laid blame on these Jewish leaders for refusing to believe in the Messiah, they grew so angry with Him that they sought to arrest Him, but again being too afraid of the crowds, they changed their plans and sought to trap and humiliate Him in public.

Now we have come to our text for today, Mark 12:13-17.

It’s unusual to see in v13 that the Pharisees and the Herodians were working together. The Pharisees, of course, being the Jewish religious leaders who opposed the Roman rule and supported Jewish liberty and the Herodians being servants of the Roman king Herod who opposed Jewish liberty and supported Roman rule. They were natural enemies that never collaborated on anything due to their rival interests, yet here they are, united in their opposition to Jesus. It’s ironic what brings people together isn’t it? These two groups now form the ‘they’ we read of in every verse of our passage. ‘They’ got together, formed a plan, came up with a question and sent some of their own to trap or catch Jesus in His teaching. This was nothing less than a carefully planned ‘ambush.’ After giving Jesus presumptuous and bogus flattery they posed their question to Him in v14, ‘Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?’

On the surface of things this question may seem small but to this culture and time the question was explosive to say the least.

You see, there were many taxes, tolls, and other charges Rome commanded on their people, but the imperial tax was required only of subject peoples, not Roman citizens. So for all Jews the same sum was required from rich and poor alike. When this tax was paid to Caesar they paid it with a Denarius (a coin worth a days wage for the common person then, worth about 16 cents in our currency today). This coin, on one side had an image of Caesar and on the other side had an image glorifying his rule with the words ‘son of divine Augustus’ over it. By paying this tax, one was in essence proclaiming the glory of Caesar’s rule and their submission to it. More so, because all the coins in circulation belonged to the Caesar, paying the tax was in essence giving back to Caesar money that was rightfully his. So each time a Jew had to pay this tax it was a reminder that they were a conquered people. This was very unpopular with Jews, most of them viewed it as idolatrous because paying it implied that Caesar, not God, was king.

In asking this question to Jesus they were trying to show that He was one of two things. He was either a fraud (a weak Messiah who had no plans to save the Jews from Roman oppression) or He was a political revolutionary (a military Messiah who was going to oppose Rome). This is a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ kind of question. Depending on His answer either He loses His popularity among the Jews, or He loses His life from the Romans who don’t allow revolutionaries to live. This question had been well thought out. It was carefully crafted, sneaky, and totally unfair. But Jesus saw through their shallow hypocrisy. He knew their true malice toward Him and that with their mouths only they were showing this honor to Him. Matthew Henry comments here saying, “Hypocrisy, though ever so artfully managed, cannot be concealed from the Lord Jesus.”

So Jesus responded to them, and did so in such a way that made them marvel at His wisdom. On Wednesday we’ll look at His answer…

Want Some Good News?

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ…” (Mark 1:1a)

Do you ever watch the evening news? Man, is it a downer, sometimes. Within the first five minutes you hear about a double homicide, a kidnapping, a terrorist attack, and some corrupt politician who has been caught doing something shady. And then on top of all that, you find out it’s going to rain all weekend. It just seems like the world is full of bad news. I think that is why we have the saying, “no news, is good news” because so much news is bad news.

Well, the word “gospel” in the verse above literally means “good news.” And in a world full of bad news, we need some good news. This news that Mark speaks of is not just good news, it’s the best news we could ever hear. It’s the good news of Jesus Christ! And the reason that news is so good is because we are sinners who have rebelled against God and as a result His wrath hovers over us. We have offended a holy God with our sin. And left to ourselves, there is no way that we can make this right.

Imagine if you were given the task of counting every single grain of sand in the world.  Do you think you could do it? Of course not, it is literally impossible. And as impossible as it is, the chances of you counting every single grain of sand in the world is far more likely than you being able to remove the wrath of God that rests upon you because of your sin. It can’t be done. On our own we cannot appease God, we cannot make right what we have made wrong. We have sinned against God and we deserve punishment and there is nothing we can do to fix that.

But the good news of the gospel is that

Christ has done what we could never do.

He lived the perfect life that we were supposed to live but failed, and died in our place taking the death we deserve, and then three days later He rose again. And in doing so, He has removed the punishment off of those who trust in Him. Our sin, our shame, and our punishment has all been nailed to the cross, and we have been forgiven because of Christ’s sacrificial work. The good news is that all those who turn from their sin and turn in faith to Jesus will be saved and will spend eternity with Him.

That is the good news. That is the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Sheep Without a Shepherd

“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” – Mark 6:34

Turkish shepherds watched in horror as hundreds of their sheep followed each other over a cliff, say Turkish reports. First, one sheep went over the cliff edge, only to be followed by the whole flock, according to the reports. More than 400 sheep died in the 15-meter fall – their bodies cushioned the fall of the next 1,100 others who followed. (BBC News)

Sheep are not the brightest animals in the world. They are dumb, prone to wander, and fairly defenseless. Tim Challies says this about sheep, “Left to themselves, sheep will not and cannot last very long. Just about any other domesticated animal can be returned to the wild and will stand a fighting chance of survival, but not sheep. Put a sheep in the wild and you’ve just given nature a snack.”

So without a shepherd sheep are in trouble. In fact, sheep are hopeless without a shepherd. And that is what Jesus is saying here about the people in Mark chapter six. Without a shepherd, they were lost; they were hopeless. This was true of the crowd that Jesus interacted with and this is true of everyone today who is not a believer. This was also true of you and me before we came to the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Humanity apart from Christ is like a sheep without a shepherd. Humanity apart from Christ is lost and hopeless. Jesus is our Shepherd, our only hope and means of salvation.

Jesus has compassion on these people and out of His compassion for them, what does he do? Look the end of verse 34. It tells us, “And he began to teach them many things.” The result of his compassion for these people was to teach them. He gave them what they needed most – himself!  He gave them information about himself!  He gave them the words of God. He taught them the things of God. His compassion for them resulted in him teaching them about God.

It is God that has the power to bring the dead to life spiritually. And it is the Word of God that nourishes the believer spiritually. Let’s be sure to teach, and share God’s Word with each other as we share with the world around us, because in the teaching and preaching of God’s Word, the dead come to life spiritually and the spiritually alive grow in the faith.

Jesus’ Lesson in Thievery

Mark 3:27 says, “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his property.”

We must do two things here.  First I must tell what this does not mean, then I’ll tell you what Jesus does mean here.  Jesus, in this verse, is not giving a thievery 101 class here, as if He were telling us how to properly rob someone’s household possessions.  What is He doing then?  Good question!

Jesus is telling us about His own work as the Son of Man in this verse.  Notice two characters here?  The strong man and the one stealing the strong man’s stuff.  The strong man in the verse is the Devil, Satan, who Paul calls the “ruler of this world.” (2 Cor. 4:1-6) The One stealing the strong man’s possessions is Jesus!  What?  Here me out: Jesus came to earth to die on the cross, and by dying on the cross Jesus disarmed Satan for good by putting him to a public shame (Col. 2:13-15).  It is in this manner that Jesus has “bound” the strong man.

What then does that make the house and the possessions inside it?  The earth is the house being referred to here, and we are its possessions!  Jesus is therefore proclaiming that He is the long-awaited One who will bind the strong man and steal his possessions out from under his nose!

So when it comes down to it, I guess we really do have a lesson on thievery here in Mark 3:27, its just that it’s a thievery done by God Himself!  Praise God that we’ve got a Savior who’s stronger than the devil, rescue us from darkness, who can steal us out of Satan’s grip, and secure us in His own.  Amen!