Crowds Press and Demons Proclaim Him

SYNOPSIS - The crowds welcomed Jesus because of his miracles, but only demons recognized who he was – the Son of God – Mark 3:7-12.

Galilee Photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash
The third chapter of Mark describes several incidents that occurred while Jesus was proclaiming the gospel in and around the town of Capernaum. At one point, the crowds, eager to see and experience his healings, thronged Jesus so it became necessary for him to speak from a boat anchored along the lakeshore. In the middle of his preaching, demons began to declare that he was the “Son of God.” - [Photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash].

After a confrontation with the Jewish religious authorities about the healing of a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, Jesus departed the local synagogue to minister to the crowd. His fame had become more widespread than that of John the Baptist; therefore, he posed a growing threat to the Temple authorities. John had drawn crowds from Jerusalem and Judea, but Jesus attracted people from as far south as Idumea (Edom) and as far north as the (largely Gentile) cities of Tyre and Sidon. This geographic range covered most of the land of Palestine.

Idumea was approximately 195 kilometers south of Capernaum and populated by mixed races of Jewish and Gentile origins. The former city-states of Tyre and Sidon were 80 kilometers to the north and populated by Hellenized Gentiles, many of Phoenician stock. The region east of the Jordan River was populated also by Gentiles. Even at this early stage, Jesus ministered to Gentiles when the opportunity arose.
  • (Mark 3:7-12)  - “And Jesus with his disciples retired unto the sea; and a great throng from Galilee followed, also from Judaea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and beyond the Jordan, and around Tyre and Zidon, a great throng, hearing whatsoever things he was doing, came unto him. And he spake unto his disciples that a little boat might attend him, because of the multitude — that they might not be pressing upon him. For he cured many, so that they were besieging him, that they might touch him — as many as had plagues; and the impure spirits, as soon as they beheld him, were falling down to him and crying aloud while he was speaking, Thou art the Son of God! and sternly was he rebuking them, lest they should make him manifest” – (The Emphasized Bible - Parallel passagesMatthew 4:24-26, Luke 6:17-19).
The gospel of Mark is the only one of the three synoptic gospels that recorded that the crowds came from as far away as Idumea, the homeland of Herod and his ancestors. Most likely, ‘Mark’ included this information because of the mention of the “Herodians” in verse 6.

The Greek verb rendered “pressing” or “thronging” is thlibō, a word related to the noun often translated “tribulation” elsewhere in the New Testament - (Or thlipsis – Strong’s - #2346 and #2347). It means “to press, to crush, to press in.” While the crowd was not hostile, what occurred resembled a mob scene with people pushing to gain access to Jesus. In previous incidents, he “touched” those in need – Now the crowd pressed in to “touch” him.

Some demons present that day caused their human host to fall prostrate before Jesus and declare him to be the “Son of God!” The Greek verbs used to describe this scene are in the imperfect tense, denoting ongoing action in the past. That is to say, this was not a one-time occurrence but happened frequently, at least on that day.
Like the religious authorities from Jerusalem, demons followed Jesus in order to interfere with his ministry. Their declarations distracted people from his message and helped to discredit his deeds. Thus, it was necessary for him to silence them.
Note well that Jesus did not engage in elaborate rituals, “binding” formulas, or lengthy prayers to silence the demons. He simply commanded them to keep quiet - Demonstrating his authority over demonic forces.

As elsewhere in Mark, only the demons recognized who Jesus was, not the religious leaders from the Temple, the crowds, not even his closest disciples - (Mark 1:24, 3:11, 3:21, 5:7, 8:27-38).

While the crowds welcomed Jesus because of his miracles, only the demons recognized that he was the “Son of God.” Above all, it was in response to this declaration that Jesus “sternly rebuked them, lest they should make him known.”

This raises the question - Did Jesus not wish to be identified at this point as the Messiah of Israel, or was he concerned more with how others perceived the nature of his ministry?


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