June 9, 2024: Vanquishing Your “Strong Man”

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Vanquishing Your “Strong Man”

Today’s Gospel story centers around “the strong man.” Jesus uses a parable to teach something vital. He is confronting false statements that religious leaders are making about him. Parables operate like word puzzles; they reveal layers of truth and spiritual insight that unfold the more you mull them over.

Jesus has returned to the home base of his ministry (a house in Capernaum), which has been overrun by a large crowd seeking his presence. His family hears about it and arrives to rescue him, because they think he is in danger. Just after this passage, his family tries again to rescue him from the crowd and the condemning religious leadership.

Who is the “strong man”? This teaching refers to breaking into a house where a strong person lives—a person so strong no one would consider breaking in unless they could tie up the strong man. Is Jesus recommending robbery as a good thing? Or is this “strong man” so sinister that tying him up is needed to free others?

Is the strong man Satan? The authoritative order? Judgmentalism? Lack of faith? Denial of God? Maybe all of the above. The “strong man” is a reference to powers that hold us or others captive. The greater point is the impossible feat of having power over all that the “strong man” represents.

Jesus is inviting the audience to pay attention to what’s unfolding: the power of God through grace and repair! In the story arch of this Gospel, this serves as an invitation to note the power of God’s grace unfolding through the ministry of Jesus, which is more powerful than any “strong man.” Who or what holds you in captivity? Are you willing to invite God to vanquish your “strong man”?

Cornelius “Neil” Routh, president, Southern Province
Provincial Elders’ Conference