But Jesus spoke up, and said to the men, “Have you come out, as if after a robber, with swords and clubs, to take me?
let’s hear it
for rhetorical questions
setting up our
your escalated response
only shows how right
I’ve been all along
demons recognize me
reveals their weakness
to rely on strength
and eventual failure
at best they can keep
the top at the top
of every category
that doesn’t matter
will reveal the dullness
This is a second image of thieves. The first was in the Temple when Jesus identified it as a Den of Thieves. There is yet one more time to come when thieves are mentioned.
Jesus began the teaching part of his ministry with a parable about robbing a house and the need to bind a strong man before robbing his house (3:23–30). If you have not already read it, Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus is a must read to assist in moving beyond a personalistic reading.
The thief here is Jesus breaking into the strong collusion of country, clan, and cult that makes an idol out of present power structures. The symbol of this becomes the entry into Jerusalem to “beard a lion in their own den”.
Subsequent uses of “thief” identify such as Satan. In Jesus’ next parable (4:2–20) the thief is Satan, stealing a word of creation from the lives of people.
In this concluding part of Mark we come to three references: Den of Thieves (11:15–18); accusation of Jesus being a thief (here); and crucifixion between two thieves, placing Jesus as the King of Thieves (15:26–27).
The imagery of who is a thief and what of value is being stolen ranges widely in differing episodes. The Reader needs to take care to not push them all together in one meaning. Stealing power from the powerful is not the same as the powerful stealing more and more from those subject to them.
Here we have to ask the same question Jesus did. Of all the arrest scenarios, does this reflect well or badly on those doing the arresting? What does this say about the strength of their position?