Mark 3:20-27

The crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 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. Mark 3:20-27

What do people tend to do when they don’t like the message? If they are thoughtful, they will closely examine the message. But that requires both an inquiring and open mind. It is so much easier to just attack the messenger.

The opponents of Jesus have shown up in full force. Very quickly we see that they have no interest in looking more closely at what Jesus says and does. They just attack him. Some say he is crazy. On what grounds? Others say he is possessed by the very demons he has cast out. How can they prove that?

We see this moment in our imaginations and we know we can hear their opposition. That is the normal next move – just get louder. If you can’t out-argue someone with logic, then just out-shout them with slogans.

Jesus answers their protests, not with shouts, slogans, or slurs but with a counter-argument. With a simple observation. If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand…

We read that line and our brain clicks…I know I’ve heard that somewhere before…. Yes, you have. It was a line that President Abraham Lincoln included in the speech he gave while running for the United States Senate from Illinois. His law partner, William Herndon, tried to talk him out of quoting the Bible verse. He thought it was too radical. People wouldn’t like it. His opponents would use it against him. It would lead to Lincoln’s defeat. He was right. Lincoln lost the race to Stephen Douglas. Lincoln lost the battle but won the war.

Where do we stand?

Is Jesus crazy, or does he know something his opponents refuse to see?

Is Jesus an agent of Satan (the liar, the deceiver, the opposite of God) or is Jesus battling Satan?

What is crystal clear at this point is where Jesus’ opponents stand. They stand against him.

Jesus too might lose the battle but win the war.

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, hold us close to the truth even in the face of voices that oppose your way of being in the world. Make us look closely at our own reactions, question our own deeply held convictions, that we might not be found opposing your will. At some level we realize that love and understanding, that justice for all, is the only path toward healing all that divides us from you and one another. In Jesus’ name. Amen.,

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