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  • John Bryant

Mark 3:20-35: With Every Consistent and Tender Offer of Self, We Plunder the Household of Satan

Updated: Jan 1

20 Then he 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.”


The passage begins with a household, Christ’s family, thinking he is out of his mind. If he is going to say what he’s going to say, if he’s going to do what he’s gong to do, then he is not, it seems, part of their household.


The pharisees, seeing Christ exorcise a demon, accuse Christ of being a part of Satan’s household. But Christ is clear. Satan is not divided against himself. The only thing that would explain what Christ is doing (the healing of the wounded, the casting out of demons) would be that Satan’s household, his administration, his dynasty, his way of doing things, his lineage, his legacy, his inheritance, his future is being plundered and ruined by Christ.


These three weeks I’ve been haunted by the word household.


I said to a friend, weeks ago, “People do not heroes, saviors, they need villages, they need households. We must learn that we are important but we are not the point.”


Back in those days, people thought of themselves as households first, then individuals. Their survival was tied to the survival of families, their lineages, their dynasties, their inheritances. In times of plague, famine, war, disease, a household was how people understood they had a future that was meaningful.


My wife and I live with another couple and their son. There is something powerful that happens when you begin to experience yourself not in terms of your individual likes and dislikes, but in terms of the survival of your village. You begin to learn that you are important but not the point. You begin to make to experience yourself as something more than yourself. You feel smaller, yet your identity stretches out past yourself. You begin to experience yourself as a collective, a body.


I've been thinking of households a lot.


I think of Christ here, plundering Satan’s household.

I think of Christ saying that to blaspheme the Spirit, to misread God’s purposes so profoundly that one calls Evil good and Good and evil, is to not have your sins forgiven, presumably because the one who blasphemes the Spirit doesn’t believe there are any sins to be forgiven. And to Christ, There is no future without the forgiveness of Sins.


I have thought Christ will not simply forgive our sins: He will offer himself as the forgiveness of Sins. His whole earthly ministry, all earthly pardons, healing, exorcism, will be fulfilled in His Death, where he offers Himself as the Forgiveness of Sins.

I have thought of the body and blood, the bread and wine, taken in church, God’s household, God’s people. I have thought how the Forgiveness of Sins is a household meal.


I’ve thought how the Forgiveness of Sins is the plundering of Satan’s house, and the foundation of Christ’s.


Too often we look at the poor, the marginalized, and believe they only have the future we can provide them, rather than the future offered in the Forgiveness of Sins, rather than the future provided by Christ’s household meal.


If we to make a difference in this world, we must forsake being important, forsake even such things as just trying to help.


We must plunder Satan’s house by way of hospitality. We must begin to make the simple offer of ourselves, the simple offer of our time, food, and bodies to those we do not know, simple household meals. Because with every consistent and tender offer of self, we are, with Christ, plundering Satan’s household and building Christ’s.




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