Luke 11:14-23: Devil Mud
If we have heard or read this story a number of times, it is likely that we know only one or two translations. Today we look at THE MESSAGE version as we reflect on our relationship with God . . . and our understanding of how Satan comes stealthily into our lives.
Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Any country in civil war for very long is wasted. A constantly squabbling family falls to pieces. If Satan cancels Satan, is there any Satan left? You accuse me of ganging up with the Devil, the prince of demons, to cast out demons, but if you’re slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil who kicks out devils, doesn’t the same mud stick to your own exorcists?
Those who are jealous of Jesus’ power are eager to claim that his authority comes from darkness. In our Lenten pilgrimage we might consider our own reaction to others’ good news.
But if it’s God’s finger I’m pointing that sends the demons on their way, then God’s kingdom is here for sure.
Those who cannot understand the depth and beauty of Jesus’ transformative love want to credit themselves with for their success and blame others for their failures. The concept of God’s kingdom of love where love and forgiveness are powerful runs counter to their thinking of justified revenge and just wars.
When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons? Then he’s beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered.
Those who believe that our world justifies an escalation of power find comfort in their belief that God blesses the good and condemns the bad.
This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.
Jesus’ words bring us the news that our dualistic thinking of good/bad, strong/weak, right/wrong is not the way of the kingdom but an illusion of the world. Jesus tells us clearly that the evil we throw at others comes back to live with us. And Jesus reminds us that when we chose to disbelieve his assertion that God’s world is nothing but love . . . we will want to reconsider our thinking . . . and the devil mud that we are tempted to throw.
When we compare other translations of Jesus’ words, their meaning takes on new light. And as we reflect on our concept of Satan, let us remember our Lenten practice this week. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.
Tomorrow, the greatest commandment.