Lenten Meditation: Thursday, March 16, 2023
“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.” - Luke 11:23
You could say Jesus’ critics are getting desperate–how else to describe their ad hominem attacks? After Jesus casts a demon out of a man, members of the crowd say Jesus must be in league with the demons himself; it must be a friendship with the devil that gives Jesus power over the devil’s retinue. Jesus can’t help but point out their illogical argument, that a house divided against itself must fall and a divided kingdom cannot stand. Why would Satan go to war with himself? It just doesn’t make any sense.
Logic is not Jesus’ ultimate concern, of course, but power–and in this case, the power of God. Jesus says he is undivided, “the finger of God,” that he is a sign of God’s coming kingdom and stronger than the powers that stand against him. Jesus is Emmanuel, “God-with-us,” and as he asserts the unity and strength of his Divine being, he has one more descriptor for himself: Jesus is one who gathers. And more than that, we are invited to gather with him.
The language in this passage is unique, and admittedly strange, but it holds surprising depth. Jesus is speaking to the deep unity of his being and purpose, that he is grounded in God’s love for the world. It is from that love that Jesus heals and gathers, seeking that we would be one with God and each other. Yet he encounters many people who are resistant to this kind of intimacy, people who prefer skepticism and distance to being known and seen–and sometimes, those people are us. Instead of gathering, we find ourselves scattered, unable to believe that God truly loves us and wants to be with us, as we are, we push back against him.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that not everyone in the crowd is ready to accept the abundance of God’s love and power in their midst. And no surprise, either, that they resort to demons and devils for their insults. Devil in Greek is diabolos, which means torn and divided, or most literally, “thrown apart.”
Today: Before he is accused of being in league with the devil, Jesus restores a man’s ability to speak. All too often, the most vulnerable people in our society are silenced. How can you amplify someone’s voice today?