In Mark 3, Jesus is confronted by the Jewish leaders.
They see the works Jesus is doing and they ascribe these to the Great Evil One:
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. (Mar 3:22-27 NRS)
Yes, there is a world of spiritual realities making itself known in Jesus’ exorcisms. But his is not the presence of the Evil One. Jesus’ mighty acts are a show of power that is binding Beelzebul.
The kingdom of Satan is being plundered. The rule over the earth is passing from the Satan to the Christ.
In Matthew and Luke, this passage is introduced by a healing. The “demon possession” is indicated by a person’s being blind and mute:
Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” (Matt 12:22-23)
The binding of the Strong Man is not only about “spiritual possession,” but about an enslaving power that manifests in sickness and other physical ailments and “abnormalities.”
The people are more precocious than their leaders: they wonder aright if the great spiritual power at work in Jesus indicates that great king David’s greater son is, at last, on the scene.
But a fourth layer is added, however subtly, in Luke’s Gospel.
No only is Jesus exercising power over the demons through exorcism (Mark). And not only is Jesus exercising power over the demons through healing of various physical ailments (Matthew and Luke). And, not only is this seen as binding of Satan so as to take what belongs to the Great Strong Man (all three Gospels).
In Luke, the plundering of what belongs to the strong man is for the purpose of redistribution. Poverty, it seems, is one facet of the Strong Man’s rule, and the plundering of his house is finds its goal in the redistribution of his wealth to the poor.
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.” (Luke 11:21-22)
The stronger one has come! The house is plundered! And now, it’s time for the redistribution to begin!
Or, if you prefer Mary’s Song:
He has filled up the poor with good things,
but the rich he has sent away empty.
Robin Hood, anyone?