Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 20 January 2015

He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” Mark 3, verse 30.

Mark finishes off this vignette with an explanation.   Jesus reasoned, implored, touched, refuted, rebuked, and forgave: all in the space of 6 verses.   Why did he do it? Because of lies about Him.

Now, let’s be fair: some people who heard Jesus talk may indeed have thought He was demon-possessed.   They saw this rebel, this upstart, who dared to defy the entrenched politico-religious authorities of the day.   The temerity of the man!  Surely he must be crazy (as his family had just said).   Barring that, the only other option was Beelzebub (as those politico-religious authorities said).  It stands to reason some of them thought that was the truth.

Yet when you take away that consideration and simply recall what was going on, you’re left with the knowledge that Jesus was simply responding to a pack of lies.  He wasn’t demon-possessed; Jesus wasn’t even self-possessed.  He had no political or military prowess, nor did He appear to even have an interest in such things.  Whatever made the world tick didn’t interest this ‘nobody’ from the nowhere village of Nazareth.  And while there were stories about miracles involved in His birth, who could really rely on stories, on rumors, to really gain a sense of the man?

So when the speculation as to who and why He was finally washed away, we’re left with the knowledge that, though Son of God, Jesus was also a real man about whom, and for various reasons, many lies had been spread.  He was possessed.   He was selfish.   He was a fraud.   He was a failure.   Nobody.  Somebody.  Savior. Scoundrel:  when folks didn’t seem to know what to say about Jesus, they simply prattled off the lies.   Thanks to the Gospels, the Epistles, and the first-hand accounts of His day, we actually know more about Jesus of Nazareth than we know about any other person from antiquity.  And still the lies persist; and still we spread the lies.   Even when we don’t spread them, we believe them.

Our world is polarized today.  You can’t troll Facebook without seeing shared stories of how up to no good the other side is (no matter who you perceive the other side to be).  I’ve fallen for them myself.  Thanks to my friend John (who originated this quote), I think Facebook is a mile-wide-inch-deep microcosm of who we are in America today.   If that’s true, we’re a pack of lying liars who all too easily believe the lies told about the other guys.  I disagree so strongly with my opponents that I find it believable that they’re a bunch of rotten human beings.   And I know I’m right because, well, I’m right.

Sound familiar?   Now is a good time to remember John’s “mile-wide-inch-deep” quote.

Perhaps it sounds familiar because we aren’t so different from the people of Jesus’ day, many of whom followed Him devoutly, but many of whom also believed the lies that seemingly reputable people told about Him.  Perhaps, too, this is a good time to remember that, while Jesus rebuked the people who meant harm to others, He also dealt with opponents using love, grace, and patience.  Jesus knew the score, and He knew others were lying about Him.   Yet Jesus moved from a posture of righteous love, and He didn’t let these things take His eye off the ball.

Jesus, too often I believe the lies about You. Forgive me and renew me to stand, to be faithful, and to forgive as You forgive.

Read Mark 3, verses 23-30.