A Divided House Cannot Stand

a divided house

Mark 3:7-27 is a little long to include on here, so I’ve just posted the link this time. Verse 13 brings us to where Jesus walked up the mountain side with the 12 that He wanted to appoint as His close 12, which He named Apostles. These 12 were to be by His side, be sent out to proclaim the message, and have the authority to cast out demons (His 12 are then named).

Afterwards, it says that Jesus went home. I know, foxes have holes but the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to lay His head. Jesus went “home”, to the place where His family lives…as we adults say when we’re visiting or staying at our parents’ house, “we’re going home”. So Jesus went home. But the crowd gathered again, and so many people that Jesus and His 12 couldn’t even eat. When His family heard of it, they went out to restrain Him, for people were saying that Jesus has gone out of His mind. Then the Scribes who came down from Jerusalem said that Jesus has Beelzebul, and that it’s by the ruler of the demons that He casts out demons.

This is where Jesus controlled the crowds. He calmed them down and spoke to them again in parables, asking, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, it won’t be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand. But his end has come.”

“No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man. Only then can the house be plundered.”

If you’ll look at the 12 and their backgrounds, you’ll first notice that some were brothers, such as Simon (Peter) and Andrew, also James and John. Some had similar backgrounds (the same 4 were all fishermen working for their dads’ businesses), but others were very much different from the rest. For instance, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John were fishermen, but they were also competing companies. So there could have been some conflict there. Plus, James and John had tempers so great that Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”; Judas Iscariot was a thief (and yet Jesus put him in charge of the money); Levi was a previous tax collector (scum of the earth, traitor to the Jews because he worked for the Romans and often swindled more money from traders to get a bigger cut for himself), and Simon the Canaanean, who belonged to a Jewish patriotic group called Zealots.

And all throughout the gospels, we even read of times when they really didn’t get along with the others. For example: James and John had their mom go and ask Jesus to let them sit at His right and left sides in the Kingdom of Heaven; the 12 often argued about who was closer to Jesus, or His “favorites”; when Jesus was crucified, many split off in different directions (not something you’d expect from 11 guys who spent every day together for 3 years).

So they were different, often didn’t get along, argued about who’s “higher in rank” or who should be leader among them, or second in command to Jesus, so to say, and had every reason to, really. But the one thing that kept them together, the one similarity among them all was their close relationship with and respect for Jesus.

“If a house is divided against itself, it won’t be able to stand.” I think this is a good example of the Church, for even a single congregation that’s not divided is difficult to find (not impossible, just difficult). In my experience and observation of many churches, a church will joyfully call a Pastor in to lead them, but down the line, for whatever reason, some will want something else and fight for the change. Soon, the Pastor’s fired and the church is now in a worse state than before. Some churches in such a mess will even become likethe synagogue in Chapter 2, where the matter continues to worsen and demons are able to dwell comfortably within their walls.

Understand, I’m not talking about a situation where the Pastor has gone AWOL in their theology, or done something to deserve firing. I’m talking about different people within a body of believers dividing in their understanding or preferences in the mission of the (or their) church, and creating more conflicts and divisions in order to have their way. And so they become like Judas in that they quickly betray their leader and get him/her out of the picture. They have taken on Satan’s tactic of divide and conquer. By doing so, they have created a division in their spiritual house. And with such a division, it will not be able to stand…it will crumble. I have seen and continue to see this happen in churches today.

Jesus’ 12 had no reason other than Jesus to get along with each other. Just the fact that many took off after Jesus’ crucifixion shows that even after 3 years together, day and night, they still did not fully get along with each other. But they made it work, because Jesus was the glue…the parent of the household, if you will, who kept them in check and in line. Even though they often wanted such, none were Ixnayed from the group, and therefore, their “house” continued to stand. “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man. Only then can the house be plundered.”

Reflection:

  1. Who is the “strong man” in your church? In your faith? What makes them the “strong man”?
  2. Like Jesus’ 12 Apostles, we Christians are to be by His side, are sent out to proclaim the message, and have the authority to cast out demons. But we can’t cast out demons if we’re allowing them to take over our churches; we can’t proclaim Jesus’ message if we’re divided; and if all this has occurred, then we’re obviously not all by Jesus’ side. In fact, it’s when we leave Jesus’ side that all this is able to happen (division, failure, crumbling, etc.). So if the strong man has been tied up, what needs to be done to untie him?
  3. We continue to hear that the Church is full of sinners who are all different, want different things out of the church, and so don’t always get along. That’s fine, as long as Jesus is the One thing that keeps us together. What are some ways that you can think of that we, as Christians, and members of Christ’s Body, can manage conflict among each other? How can we prevent divisions among Christ’s Body? What are some ways that we can strengthen our bonds with one another?

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