“Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they couldn’t even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He’s out of his mind!”
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He’s possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, it can’t stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house won’t be able to stand. So, if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, his power is coming to an end. Yet, no one can enter a strong man’s house to steal from him unless he takes care of the strong man first. Then the robber can take whatever he wants.”
“It’s true that everyone will be forgiven of their sins and forgiven of whatever blasphemies they speak, but whoever blasphemes the Spirit of God can’t be forgiven because they’ll be guilty of continuing to sin against the Spirit of God.” They were saying that Jesus had an unclean spirit.
Belle and Gaston! That’s what comes to my mind when I read this passage. Jesus has impacted the region so much that his fame has forced the hands of opponents like the scribes. The scribes are attempting to discredit Jesus because he’s not like them. Jesus didn’t come from their school system and they can’t explain Jesus so they must treat Jesus like a Belle, someone who is obviously different. In Beauty and the Beast, we see Gaston’s aggressive and relentless pursuit of Belle. He will stop at nothing to make Belle his wife. Even the entire village swoons because of Gaston’s charisma. At the same time, they ostracize Belle and her father for being so peculiar. The traditional heroic character that Gaston portrays clearly controls the spirit of the village and when Belle’s father returns from the Beast’s mansion to warn them that Belle has been taken captive a horrible beast Gaston label’s Belle’s father as an insane old man. We know how the story unfolds. Gaston and the stable and traditional French countryside village become enraged and want to get rid of the Beast. Yet, we see that Belle has transformed the heart of the Beast and warns the village and especially Gaston to leave the Beast alone. It’s too late. Gaston has stirred up the village. He’s convinced them Belle’s father is crazy and that the Beast is a critical threat that must be dealt with immediately.
After attempts to portray Jesus as the beast of all beasts, Beelzebul, the scribes feel they can justifiably incite the crowd to oppose him. Even Jesus family seems to have been convinced that Jesus has gone mad. To them also, Jesus has become a type of beast, sub-human. They even went out to find Jesus on the campaign trail and “seize” him.
Jesus doesn’t respond by counterattacking or trading a smear for another smear. Jesus speaks cryptically. Mark reminds us of John the Baptist’s preaching that there would be one stronger than himself coming afterward. Because the people thought Jesus had an unclean spirit he addresses that label of himself as a beast and causes them to rethink what they’ve concluded. “If I’m a beast with an unclean spirit, what good am I doing myself and my cause by casting out lesser unclean spirits? Wouldn’t I be opposing myself?” Jesus is compelling them, forcing them to consider an alternative rationale.
The house Jesus speaks of is the one he’s inside, the house of Jacob. And, the people inside the house of Israel are like stolen merchandise. Who stole them? Satan, of course, a very strong “man.” Yet, Satan looks like the very charismatic Gaston to all of the people inside the house, especially the scribes who’ve come out with torches and pitchforks, to rid themselves of the beast, Jesus. Again, we know how the story unfolds in Beauty and the Beast. Love triumphs over the real evil, even if on the surface this love looks like a hideous beast. The Beast is killed but somehow given new life because he’s learned to truly love and not judge others by outward appearances. Jesus will be killed because he appears as a beast who’s unsettling the villagers, the house of Jacob. But we know Jesus is the one stronger than the strong man in the house. Jesus is being seen as binding the strong man and robbing him of his stolen possessions, the people of Israel (and the world, of course).
Today, Jesus is still labeled as something other than what he truly is. This makes it easier and even justifiable in our minds to ignore Jesus as someone is not truly human. Let Jesus be mythical or even legendary. Let Jesus be a great teacher, a great moral example, or even a revolutionary religious reformer. But don’t let him be the truly strong man with a heavenly love which was demonstrated by his incredible death and resurrection. That would mean the charismatic Gastons of the world be cast out.
Categories: The Gospel Story