“In Slavery by Their Fear of Death”

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Mark’s Gospel starts with Jesus preaching and doing miracles. He preaches repentance due to the in-breaking kingdom of God. Jesus does miracles – healing paralysis, casting out demons, and even forgiving sins.

There is confusion over exactly how Jesus does these things. No one is denying that he is doing it, not even his enemies. The question is where does his power come from. There are only two options: God’s power or Satan’s power. Those are the only two beings with authority over all that Jesus is exerting authority over.

We are let in on a conversation in Mark 3 that gives us insight into the spiritual forces and warfare going on in Jesus’ mission and ministry that have repercussions on our lives today.

First, we get the accusation,

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” – 3:22

Next, we get Jesus’ response. In responding to this accusation Jesus gives a one line parable that illustrates what is going on behind the scenes,

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.” – Mark 3:23-27

Jesus has come into this world to bind up the strong man and rob him of what he possesses. Jesus demonstrates the strong man is still bound every time he casts out a demon, heals a person, calms a storm, and raises the dead (as he will do in Mark 4-5). What we see in the physical realm is only the tip of the iceberg. Jesus has bound up the strong man because Jesus is stronger than the strong man. Jesus has greater authority than Satan. That is the only explanation for Jesus’ ability to overpower the work of Satan in the world and bring restoration to all areas of life and creation.

Hebrews 2 contains some of the most powerful words ever penned and it is on this very topic,

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

The ultimate act of binding the strong man and freeing his prisoners (robbing his house) is the death and resurrection of Jesus. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus “broke the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil” to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

Jesus has overpowered the greatest power, person and obstacle to ever stand between us and our Father. He has been disarmed. He has been bound. His sting has been removed. We can breathe a sigh of relief.

We are free.

Free from tyranny…free from fear.

The strong man has not just been bound up. The strong man has been defeated, completely.

So don’t let fear have mastery over you. The one who is with us is greater than the one who is in the world. Any fear you still possess is not the product of reality but of deception, which Satan is a master at. When you are in Christ, there is nothing to fear.

When you have a moment read the end of Mark 4 through Mark 5 and contrast faith and fear. The ultimate outcome of life in the Lord is a life of faith and freedom, especially freedom from fear.

So don’t be afraid.

Be free.

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