“Et tu, Brute?” Shakespeare’s haunting words uttered by Julius Caesar seconds after his best friend thrust a knife into his back paint a picture similar to Jesus’ dealings with his closest companions. Caesar’s best friend Brutus betrays him at his weakest moment. Similarly, Jesus endures false accusations from those who should have known Him best.
Conflict On All Sides
Immediately after calling His twelve disciples, Jesus faces a confrontation sandwich with his family (vv. 20–21 and 31–35) flanking the religious Scribes (vv. 22–30). His kinfolk—those who spent years watching Jesus live a perfect life—think He is raving about like a lunatic. The Scribes ratchet up the accusations calling Him both demon possessed and one who casts out demons by the power of the Enemy. One can understand the Scribes’ frustrations with Jesus as they stand to lose their religious power in light of Jesus’ kingdom. However, seeing Jesus’ own family confuse the Messiah for a madman begs the question, what made Jesus seem crazy to those who knew Him best?
A quick glance at the Old Testament reveals Yahweh as powerful. After all, He creates the universe with the breath of His mouth (Genesis 1–2), destroys the Egyptians through natural calamities (Exodus 6–12), and rains down fire on false prophets (1 Kings 18). It follows then that if Jesus is in fact the Messiah— the Savior of His people—He’d better demonstrate power as well. In just the few short chapters in Mark, we have already seen that Jesus is more powerful than demons, leprosy, sickness, paralysis, and even sin. This sort of power has a polarizing effect on people: they either run toward Christ or reject His authority.
Sadly, in Jesus’ case, many choose the latter. The Scribes accuse Jesus of two self-contradictory claims. They argue a demon possesses Him while also asserting that Jesus, by the power of the Enemy, casts out demons. Jesus, speaking in a parable, explains they can’t have their devil’s food cake and eat it too.
The Scribes and all those listening learn that only a more powerful person successfully exorcises a demon and keeps it from returning. Although speaking in a somewhat veiled manner through the parable, Jesus clearly communicates that His ability to drive out demons demonstrates that His power supersedes that of the Enemy. However strong the Enemy and his demons might be, Jesus is stronger.
Jesus’ polarizing effect on people carries forward today, and we have to ask ourselves, “Do I trust that Jesus is more powerful than whatever I am facing?”
Insiders Versus Outsiders
After Jesus faces false accusations from the Scribes, the bread in His accusation sandwich comes looking for Him. Although His family probably felt entitled to come inside to Jesus, they learn a valuable lesson about insiders versus outsiders in God’s kingdom. With the great power Jesus possesses, He could make insiders out of the religious elite like the Scribes or favoring those in his immediate family through nepotism. Instead, in God’s kingdom insiders are those who see Jesus’ power and run toward Him instead of rejecting Him. Jesus welcomes you on the inside.
Jesus demonstrates power over and over again. What does this reveal about Him? Do we believe Jesus is powerful in our lives? Why do we doubt Jesus’ power?
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