16 Jan
Cartoon strongman waving his arms.

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Text and images by Rick McVicar

     Subtitle: A Divided House Cannot Stand     

Jesus confounds the Jewish scribes, so they accuse him of demon possession, according to Mark 3:18-30 (NRSV).

     Now Jesus is not possessed with just any demon. No, scribes ascribe Beelzebub to Jesus, the demons’ head honcho. 

      So let’s get a look at what scribes mean by the name Beelzebub. According to Kaufman Kohler in the online Jewish Encyclopedia, Beelzebub is a form of Baalzebub, which is found in II Kings 1:1-18. In this Hebrew scripture reference, Baalzebub is known as the god of the Philistine city Ekron. King Ahaziah calls on this god after taking a bad fall through a lattice (v. 2, NRSV). 

     Baalzebub is also known as the “Lord of the Flies,” considered to be demonic in Jewish tradition. Flies are blamed for causing plagues. Of course, the God of Israel does not take kindly to a king calling on another god for help. Thus, in Mark’s passage, we have the full brunt of nature and the supernatural combined to come down on Jesus’ head. 

     In a previous posting, I describe Mark’s gospel as falling in the horror genre, full of threatening suspense. The threats now become real. If Jesus is possessed by the “Lord of the Flies,” then surely nature must be feared. This passage in Mark clearly puts the scribes at odds with nature. 

     So what about Jesus? Does he stand opposed to nature? Jesus’ answer to the scribes is that he cannot be of Satan while driving out demons, as a divided house cannot stand against adversity. He also mentions plundering the house of a strong man. Is he referring to Ceasar?

     In the end, Jesus appeals to unity and the forgiveness of sin. Is Jesus talking about unity with nature as he talks about division and unity in the supernatural world? Considering that the gospel writer makes no distinction between the supernatural and natural worlds, I would say yes, 

     So let’s ask him for forgiveness for the way we have treated Planet Earth.             

     Thank you for making it to the end. Have artful health today.

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