Sermon by Pastor Tom Brown · Jun 12, 2022 · Mark Series


A major theme of the book of Mark is the struggle taking place as Jesus confronts the forces of evil in the world.

We’ve already seen the account of the extraordinary synagogue service in chapter 1 where Jesus was teaching and out of nowhere an otherworldly voice cried out to challenge Jesus. The whole room was shocked when Jesus commanded the spirit to leave and they saw the man’s body convulse on the floor and the spirit shrieked as it left the man.

In his summary of Jesus’ early ministry, Mark tells us three times us that Jesus was casting out demons. (1:32, 1:39, 3:11)

Let’s read Mark 3:20-35.

Christus Victor

What is revealed to us in Mark is the reality of Jesus that theologians call Christus Victor. That’s a Latin phrase, which simply means Christ the Victor.

We often hear of Christ the lamb, the sacrifice for our sins. We often hear that Jesus came to die as a substitute for our sins, he died to satisfy the wrath of God and make sinners acceptable to God. Praise God for that!

But there’s more. He came to triumph over the forces of evil and set people free from bondage!


“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”

1 John 3:8


He defeated Satan’s temptations in the deserts, slipping out of the chains Satan sought to wrap around his neck.

One by one he cast out unclean spirits and set oppressed people free.

On the cross he triumphed over the spiritual world and destroyed the authority of Satan.


“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

– Colossians 2:15


Since that time spiritual evil is active in the world, an army that has been defeated, yet remains and still fights a desperate war of resistance.

After the resurrection Jesus gave authority over the spiritual world to all Christians as they fulfill the Great Commission.

Martin Luther, fighting for the clarity of the gospel, understood the need to take up that authority.

“the devil came and led us into disobedience, sin, death, and all misfortune. As a result, we lay under God’s wrath and displeasure, sentenced to eternal damnation, as we had merited it and deserved it. There were no resources, no help, no comfort for us until this only and eternal Son of God, in his unfathomable goodness, had mercy on us because of our misery and distress and came from heaven to help us. Those tyrants and jailers have now been routed, and their place has been taken by Jesus Christ, the Lord of life, righteousness, and every good thing and every blessing. He has snatched us, poor lost creatures, from the jaws of hell, won us, made us free, and restored us to the Father’s favor and grace. As his own possession he has taken us under his protection and shelter, in order that he may rule us by his righteousness, wisdom, power, life, and blessedness”

“a victory over the Law, sin, our flesh, the world, the devil, death, hell, and all evils; and this victory of his he has given to us. Even though these tyrants, our enemies, accuse us and terrify us, they cannot drive us into despair or condemn us. For Christ, whom God the Father raised from the dead, is Victor over them, and he is our righteousness”

“takes away the law, kills my sin, destroys my death in his body, and in this way empties hell, judges the devil, crucifies him, and throws him down into hell. In other words, everything that once used to torment and oppress me Christ has set aside; he has disarmed it and made a public example of it triumphing over it in himself”

As huge crowds gathered around Jesus and he delivered many from unclean spirits, it must have been an extraordinary scene. A wild scene. In our passage we are going to see that not everyone responds in the same way to the demonstration of Jesus’ power. In the responses of this text we will see that we must be very careful how we respond to Jesus.

Those who know Jesus the most are the most in danger of missing him.

The consequences of misjudging Jesus are eternal.

Christus Victor requires total allegiance.

Those who know Jesus the most are the most in danger of missing him.

The passage begins with Jesus family. They have heard about his recent activities and they are concerned.

‘What he’s doing is a danger to himself. His religion is too extreme, it’s a threat to his physical health. Maybe he’s a danger to the family name. We don’t want to be associated with this kind of thing.’

They sent some of his brothers to get him and bring him home. The NIV says they wanted to “take charge of him.”

Listen you don’t take charge of the Lion of Judah.

It doesn’t go well.

We see that in Jesus response in verses 33-35 “who are my mother and brothers?” “here are my mother and brothers” “whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother”. That had to hurt.

They loved Jesus. They sought his good. But their version of good was different than God’s version.

Peter experienced that didn’t he? (Matthew 16:21-23.)

Jesus told the disciples that God’s will for him was to be killed. Peter, looking out for Jesus’ interests, pulled him aside to rebuke him. Never Lord!

Do you remember what Jesus said?

“Get behind me Satan.” Ouch. Peter’s concern was not God’s concern.

You don’t take charge of the Lion of Judah.

You don’t pull him down into the world of your design that is safe and rational and controllable.

He won’t do it.

(Side note: parents, it’s easy to want to take charge of your children. You want the best for them. We must be careful not to assume that our version of the best is always the same as God’s.)

The consequences of misjudging Jesus are eternal.

Mark moves from Jesus’ family to the scribes. Mark tells us that these particular scribes were sent down from Jerusalem. Word about Jesus spread to the highest halls of authority. A delegation was sent down to investigate.

‘What he is doing is a danger to our tradition. He’s a threat. He’s not under our authority. He’s not supporting our cause. He’s a maverick. He’s out of control. His religion is a threat to stability and the honor of our religion. We don’t know what his endgame is. He’s a threat to our power.’

The scribes wanted the best for their tradition. But their best was not God’s best.

They should have known Jesus best. They were the experts in the prophecies. They should have known what the Messiah would come to do. They should have recognized the signs. They should have handed the keys to him.

They were blinded by their devotion to their tradition and to their own power.

They could not deny his power. They denied his goodness. ‘This is evil. He’s deceiving you.’ They accused him of casting out demons by a demonic spirit.

Beelzebul is an interesting name. Beelzebub was a Palestinian god, scholars haven’t settled the exact meaning of the name, but there are two options. One is that the name means Lord of the Flies. The other option is Lord of the Temple or Baal’s Abode. In the time of Jesus, Beelzebub was the chief rival to YHWH in Jewish thought. Jesus equated him with Satan.

Jesus calmly and rationally explained to them that they are on the verge of eternal judgment.

These words of Jesus have caused concern for many people. The thought of an eternal or unforgiveable sin is frightening. What if I commit that sin?

The good news is that the unforgiveable sin is not a vague, undefinable act. It is very clear.

The gospels tell us that Jesus came in the power of the Holy Spirit. It was by the Holy Spirit that he cast out demons.

In calling out the spirit behind Jesus’ power as demonic, it was not Jesus, but the Holy Spirit who was blasphemed or insulted.

If you do not recognize that Jesus is Lord you will not be forgiven.

Forgiveness can only be found by yielding to Jesus as Lord. If you have accepted Jesus as Lord you don’t have anything to worry about.

“There is no forgiveness here because such an attitude is incapable of seeking it” -English

Their crime is not that they asked questions, or that they doubted. “Their sin is that, in the presence of God’s grace in action, they have not only rejected it but ascribed it to the devil. This is their fixed position. No wonder they will not find forgiveness.” – Donald English

This passage is deadly serious, but the warning comes with a promise of grace. All the sins of men can be forgiven. You just have to recognize Jesus as the Spirit empowered source of forgiveness.

As long as you deny the Spirit in Jesus you cannot find that forgiveness.

“Anyone who is worried about having committed the sin against the Holy Spirit has not yet committed it, for anxiety of having done so is evidence of the potential for repentance. There is no record in Scripture of anyone asking forgiveness of God and being denied it!” -Edwards

Sidenote on faith:

Faith and unbelief are not just matters of proof or evidence. Underlying the rational is the emotional. Some people don’t believe because they don’t want to believe. Some people don’t accept the evidence because they are unwilling to see the evidence. Some people can’t accept the story of Jesus because they are committed to their own story.

If you have studied Christian apologetics you may have noticed something familiar in this passage.

There are three responses in Mark to the claims and the evidences of Jesus:


  1. He’s crazy – he needs to be controlled.
  2. He’s evil – he needs to be exposed and eliminated.
  3. He’s lord – we need to be humbled and awed.


A preacher by the name of John Duncan in the 1800s called this the trilemma: Jesus deceived others by conscious fraud, he himself was deceived or he was divine.

C.S. Lewis made it famous in his radio addresses on Mere Christianity: Lord, liar or lunatic.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. (Mere Christianity, 55-56)”

Christus Victor requires total allegiance.

Mark moves from family to scribes and now back to family.

Usually family is on the inside and the more distant conne

ctions on the outside. It’s the other way around here. Jesus looks at those on the inner circle with him – “these are my family.” This unsettles the privileged and uplifts the dejected. Anyone can join the family of Jesus. He is redefining family. Allegiance to Jesus has cost many people their family relationships. (Ferguson – is your relationship to Jesus natural or spiritual?)

“There are only two kinds of people: those who sit on the inside at Jesus’ feet and those who stand on the outside with false assumptions” -Edwards

Jesus adds sisters (giving equal honor to women), does not include father (because Joseph has died or because that role can only go to God?)

Anyone can be an insider who sits at Jesus’ feet and does the will of his Father, and no one can be an insider who does not. -Edwards

The people who had the best access to Jesus – his family through years of relationship and the scribes through years of study of the Scriptures – the ones who should have been the first to acknowledge him end up on the outside.

What this means for families – it’s central to God’s plan. But it is not God.


“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

Matthew 10:37


Christ’s victory is an all out war which creates a new order that demands our total allegiance.

We can rejoice in his victory. We can join him in battle over captive souls.

Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown