This morning I preached from Mark 3:20-30. Jesus has been healing people, including healing them of evil spirits, and the powers that be have accused him of using the power of Satan to do this work. This is a ludicrous charge and Jesus paints several verbal pictures that point this out. In verse 29 he gives the last of the pictures, saying,
"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."
What Jesus is saying here is that Satan is a strong man, and that no one can take things from a strong man without first tying him up, or putting a limit onto his ability to use his power. Satan's own power cannot be used against him, meaning that in order for Jesus to drive evil spirits out of people he must both have the ability to overpower Satan, and he must use that ability. Which is precisely what Jesus has done.
But as I thought a bit more about this verse this afternoon I realized it shows us a bit more than the point Jesus was making to the Jewish religious authorities. The image of verse 29 is an image we can also see at work today.
In the death and resurrection of Jesus, Satan has been bound. The power that he has as a "strong man" is clearly shown to be weaker than the power of Jesus. He still fights against God, as he always has, but he knows the ending just as clearly as anyone who reads the Bible with faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord does.
Luther said it well in the third verse of his great hymn:
"And tho' this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thro' us.
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him,
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure:
One little word shall fell him."
In Christ, Satan has been bound. His house is being plundered. All to the glory of God.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.