Jesus, you were misunderstood
and slandered by others;
save us from calling evil what is good,
and help us to do the will of God,
that we may be found among your family,
now and for ever. Amen.
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.—Romans 15.7
Today, we have a tale of the scribes and Jesus’ family. Mark combines the two in one of his famous Markan ‘sandwiches’ in today’s Gospel Reading. The family and the scribes most likely felt they had little in common, but Mark combines them because they are both playing the role of gatekeepers.
Both want to stop the free flow of people to Jesus. Let’s start where Mark starts, with his family.
Jesus has gone back ‘home’. This probably means back to Capernaum, his adopted home town, rather than Nazareth. When they hear the news, his family come. Not to say g’day you understand, but to ‘restrain him’ because the rumour was that he was out of his mind. Some of them may have been concerned for Jesus, other family members may have had the family’s reputation in mind.
Whatever their reasons, they wanted to put Jesus away.
The scribes can’t take Jesus away, as the family can; so they seek to discredit Jesus. They use their teaching authority by announcing that the source of Jesus’ undoubted power is the devil himself. They literally demonise him.
It’s a flimsy argument. They may have made it up on the spot! Jesus has no difficulty at all in tearing it apart:
How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand… And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.
Good point. Through Jesus, Satan’s power is collapsing one way or another.
Let’s move away from the scribes and the family for a while. This story reminded me of a contemporary figure, an American woman named Sara Miles. Continue reading