Mark 3:7-12 – Demons Confess Yeshua to be the Son of God

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POSTED 04 NOVEMBER, 2017

“Yeshua withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’ And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.”

reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume I

Yeshua the Messiah widely attracted crowds of people, who hearing of various miracles and mighty deeds performed by Him, wanted to see Him, seeking answers and resolutions to their life questions and physical maladies. In the record of Mark 3:7-12, because of the massive crowd wanting to encounter Him, Yeshua directed His Disciples to have a boat on hand, so He could speak to, and interact with, a large audience from just off the shoreline. Some factors are to be considered from the common demonic response to the presence of Yeshua, as noted by Mark 3:11: “And the foul spirits, whenever they saw Him, threw themselves down at His feet, screaming out: ‘You are the Son of God’” (Weymouth New Testament).

The typical response of the unclean spirits or demonic entities, when encountering Yeshua the Messiah, is stated by Mark 3:11 with, prosepipton autō kai ekrazon legontes hoti su ei ho huios tou Theou, “fell down before him and cried out saying, ~ ‘You are the Son of God!’” (Mounce and Mounce).[1] The verb of interest, prospiptō, has been variably defined as, “to fall down at another’s feet, prostrate oneself” (LS),[2]to fall forward, to fall down, prostrate oneself before, in homage or supplication” (Thayer),[3] “Of persons, to fall down to or before someone, i.e., at his feet or knees as a suppliant or to reverence” (AMG).[4] While the verb prospiptō does not seem to have the same significance as proskuneō or “worship,” that some kind of veneration of one party toward another is seen in Mark 3:11, is fair to recognize.

Advocates of either a high or low Christology will conclude that the demonic response to the presence of Yeshua, “You are the Son of God!”, indicates that Yeshua is some significantly, supernaturally empowered figure. The Messiah is no mere mortal, and the demons recognize this. That Yeshua is honored by them with the title “the Son of God,” reflects on His Divine nature. But why does the narrative state, “But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was” (Mark 3:12, NIV)? Commentators of the Gospel of Mark tend to conclude that the intention of Yeshua silencing the demons on who He was as either the prophesied Messiah, the Son of God, the Holy One of God, or some other significant designation, was so that the humans who encountered Him would be able to come to their own conclusions, based on the actions they witnessed:

  • R. Alan Cole: “Note the steady refusal of Jesus to accept demonic testimony to His person or work, though such testimony would have been irrefutable. The reason for this refusal is not given by Mark, but it seems reasonable to suppose that Jesus wanted others to find out who He was by listening to His words and by watching His deeds. This is made clear in His reply to the puzzled disciples of the imprisoned John, who were sent to ask bluntly whether Jesus was the Christ or not. ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard’ (Lk. 7:22). Here were messianic signs in plenty; but it needed the eye of faith to interpret them.”[5]
  • James R. Edwards: “In addition to the Father (1:11), the demons are the only other party so far in Mark to confess Jesus’ divine Sonship (1:24; 3:11; 5:7). Their doing so in the presence of the disciples in this instance accentuates the incompleteness of the disciples’ knowledge of Jesus…”[6]

If Yeshua’s silencing of the demons regarding His identity was so that His Disciples, and those who encountered Him, could come to their own conclusions, what might be communicated to us as Bible readers? Would it not be fair for us to conduct a detailed inquiry from Holy Writ about His statements, teachings, and actions—to conclude whether or not the Messiah is a supernatural but created agent sent from Heaven by God, or the eternal and uncreated Son of God who is integrated into the Divine Identity? Noting the verb epitimaō, “to express strong disapproval of someone, rebuke, reprove, censure also speak seriously, warn” (BDAG),[7] in Mark 3:12, Edwards makes the strong observation,

“Characteristic of Jesus’ divine authority over evil is Gk. epitiman (‘he gave them strict orders’). Used in the OT of the word of God that prevails over both natural (Ps 106:9) and demonic (Zech 3:2) forces, epitiman represents the sovereign command of God to rebuke and subdue evil (1:25; 4:39; 9:25). Jesus’ authority over the demonic realm is total. Demonic forces are left with no other choice than to confess his sovereignty by their subjection.”[8]

To examine what the Septuagint has for Psalm 106:9 and Zechariah 3:2, in employing the verb epitimaō, it is witnessed,

  • “And he rebuked the Red Sea [kai epetimēsen tē eruthra thalassē], and it became dry, and he guided them in the deep as in a wilderness” (Psalm 106:9, NETS).[9]
  • “And the Lord said to the slanderer, ‘The Lord rebuke you, O slanderer! And the Lord who has chosen Ierousalem rebuke you! [epitimēsai Kurios en soi diabole kai epitimēsai Kurios en soi ho eklexamenos tēn Ierousalēm] Behold, is not this like a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2, NETS).[10]

Recognizing these significant actions performed by the LORD or YHWH, Kurios in the LXX, involving the verb epitimaō—it is justified for us to wonder from Mark 3:12 whether the Lord Yeshua is to be regarded as being integrated into the Divine Identity, as He rebukes the demons quantitatively indifferently than what is seen in Psalm 106:9 or Zechariah 3:2. While not definitive, further investigation and deliberations are required, regarding the actions of Yeshua, as His nature is evaluated.


NOTES

[1] Mounce and Mounce, 138.

[2] LS, 696.

[3] Thayer, 549.

[4] Zodhiates, Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 1235.

[5] R. Alan Cole, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 135.

[6] James R. Edwards, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 104.

[7] BDAG, 384.

[8] Edwards, Mark, pp 104-105.

[9] “Thus He rebuked the Red Sea [v’yigar b’yam-suf] and it dried up, and He led them through the deeps, as through the wilderness” (Psalm 106:9, NASU).

[10] “The LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! [yigar YHWH b’kha haSatan v’yigar YHWH b’kha haboheir b’Yerushalayim] Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’” (Zechariah 3:2, NASU).


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