The Naked Man – pt. 27

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As the gathering dispersed, Mark’s thoughts drifted to his brother Benyamin once more. He sat down beside his mother. “What’s causing that frown, Yohannan?” she asked. “Benyamin,” he replied. “I wonder if he feels betrayed by us. Not in the manner of Judas’ betrayal perhaps, but a betrayal nonetheless.” He took his mother’s hand between his own. “Is that how you felt when Daniel and I ran off to follow Jesus?” Miryam’s thoughts drifted back over the decades. “At first I was just concerned for you. There was a lot of talk about Jesus in the city – most of it negative among our friends. Your father – he of blessed memory – was scolded for allowing you to go north with the others, but he was of the opinion that you would come home when the dust settled.” She smiled. “I suppose the dust never settled. And your father and I found ourselves walking in the dust of the rabbi ourselves once we heard Jesus when you all returned to Yerushalayim. Much to the chagrin of the rest of our family – not least your brother.”

Mark offered his mother a wry smile. “We already knew what to expect from family. When we followed Jesus back to Kefer Nahum he went home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that he and his disciples could not even eat a meal.” Mark laughed at the memory. “I lost count of the number of times his sharing of table fellowship was interrupted by the crowds. But he never seemed to mind.” His face grew serious again. “But when his own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of him. They were saying, ‘He has lost his senses.’”

He shook his head, and then his eyes briefly flashed with anger. “But that was nothing compared to what the scribes who came down from Yerushalayim were saying: ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘He casts out the demons by the prince of the demons.’ The Sanhedrin had sent their scribes to investigate Jesus – and they were clearly threatened by what they saw and heard.” Miryam squeezed his hand before saying, “That is something to be shared at the gathering tomorrow evening my son. Here, help me up. I must retire for the night.”

+   +   +

After the meal, Mark laid out the accusations the scribes made concerning Jesus’ power over the unclean spirits. Yiftach spoke up. “Those are serious charges. But they make sense given their source. If you see yourself as God’s chosen representative as the scribes do, then anyone who challenges your authority must be in league with Satan, the Enemy of G_d.” Rachel, looking confused, called out a question. “Satan? They said ‘Beelzebul’ – I don’t think I’ve heard that name before.” Mark nodded. “Besides their accusations making Jesus out to be a sorcerer – and someone possessed by an unclean spirit – the scribes saw the political threat Jesus posed. So the titles they used reflected that: ‘Beelzebul,’ which means something like ‘Lord of the dwelling’, and ‘Prince of the demons.’”

Yiftach spoke up again. “So how did Jesus respond to such serious charges?” Mark smiled. “The way he often did. He called them to himself and began speaking to them in parables. ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man’s house and steal his goods unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’ – because they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’”

“What does all that mean?” asked Rachel. “That is the question, isn’t it?” responded Mark…

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