Crowds Press, Demons Confess

The crowds welcomed Jesus because of his miracles, only demons recognized him as the Son of God - Mark 3:7-12

Fishing Boat - Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
Mark describes several incidents that occurred while Jesus was teaching in Capernaum. Eager to see his healing powers, the crowd thronged him to the point it became necessary for him to speak from a boat just off the shoreline. But in the middle of his preaching, demons began to declare that he was the “Son of God.” - [Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash].

After a confrontation with the religious authorities over healing a man's hand on the Sabbath, Jesus left the synagogue to minister to the multitude that had gathered outside. His fame was becoming more widespread than that of John the Baptist. This meant he posed an increasing threat to the Temple authorities.

John drew 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, a geographic range that covered much of the region.

Idumea was populated by mixed races of Jewish and Gentile origins, and the cities of Tyre and Sidon were populated largely by Hellenized Gentiles, including many of Phoenician stock. The region to the east of the Jordan also included many Gentiles. Even at this early stage, Jesus began to minister 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 to him. And he spoke to his disciples that a small 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 unclean spirits as soon as they beheld him were falling down to him and crying aloud while he was speaking: You are the Son of God! And sternly was he rebuking them, lest they should make him manifest” – (Parallel passagesMatthew 4:24-26, Luke 6:17-19).
Mark is the only one of the three synoptic gospels that noted 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, which is related to the noun often translated “tribulation.” It means “to press, 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. Here, people juggled among themselves to “touch” him.

Some demons caused their human host to fall prostrate before Jesus and declare him to be the “Son of God!” The Greek verbs that describe the scene are in the imperfect tense to denote ongoing action in the past. This was not a one-time occurrence but happened rather frequently, at least on that day.

Like the religious authorities from Jerusalem, demons followed Jesus in order to interfere with his ministry. Their confessions distracted people from his message and could easily have discredited his deeds. Thus, it was necessary for him to silence them.

But Christ did not engage in elaborate rituals, “binding” formulas, or lengthy prayers to silence them. Instead, he simply commanded demons to remain silent, thus demonstrating his authority over them. And as elsewhere in Mark, only the demons recognized who he was, not the religious leaders from the Temple, the crowds, nor even his closest disciples - (Mark 1:24, 3:11, 3:21, 5:7, 8:27-38).

While the multitudes welcomed Jesus because of his miracles, only demons recognized him as the “Son of God.” And it was in response to their confessions 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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