Jesus had been out speaking to the multitudes. He and the twelve return by boat. Jesus heads back to the house where he is staying. He sits down to eat with friends. The towns people, hearing that Jesus is there, begin to fill up the house. He recounts stories of the day. Soon there are so many people in this house, that those who were eating can no longer raise their bread to their mouths. Jesus’ family hears of this gathering and squeezes their way into the house to take Jesus away. His brothers shout, “He’s out of his mind, people. Let us through so this crowd can be dispelled.” His kin were not the only ones who wanted to discredit Jesus. Scribes appeared in the house as well. “He is not out of his mind, rather he is possessed by a demon. By Beelzebub. For he who drives out demons could only be a demon himself.” Christ then stands, calms his family, and addresses the scribes in parables. “How is it that Satan can drive out Satan?” Then turning their conventional wisdom upon them he says, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. AND (addressing his family members) if a house is divided against itself that house will not be able to stand. AND if Satan rises up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand but comes to an end.”
There is a lot going on in this passage. There’s a lot going on. Jesus returning. Hoping to finish out his day with a quiet meal and conversation with his friends. But what he gets instead is more of what he’s encountered already that day. People anxious to connect, to hear what he has to say, to be healed by his hands, to cast the demons out of their lives and experience life anew in Christ. And because of this they come in droves–filling up the place where he is. His family shows us. They think he’s nuts. And while Christ loves his family, his heavenly position and duty to God take precedence. Then we have scribes (always a pleasant bunch) who have come to chastise him. They seek to cast doubt into the hearts of the crowd. [Remember this was a house packed wall-to-wall with people by the time these guys arrive.] his family proclaims to the crowd that he’s loony. The scribes say he’s a demon. A servant of Satan. Jesus then rebukes the scribes and his family. And in so doing makes a little dig at the religious establishment. For just as Christians today are divided; certainly the Jews in Jesus own day were divided. Ultimately his goal was to rally the troops. To gather people in unity of purpose, belief and faith. That all would one day be ushered into the Kingdom of Heaven.
God help us to pay attention to Jesus’ words. His teaching, his parables, his warnings. Help us to listen to one another. To seek to build one another up in Christ and not tear down what you have built. Let us gather in your house, engage in lively discussion, and break bread together. Let us think before accusing our brothers. But also let us not forget that there is real evil in this world. We do have an enemy. He does not celebrate our progress or our unity. He’d rather have us fragmented. Accusing one another. Confusing our flock for his own. Lord, give us strength, wisdom, patience, kindness, discernment and right minds as we pursue your truth.