10A18. Genesis 3:9-15. Disobeying God’s command, Adam and Eve had been taken in by the ruse or scheme of the devil. God recognized that they had lost their innocence, because they had eaten of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, when Adam said, “I heard that you were in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” The innocence of infants and little children knows no fear or threat of evil and so nakedness poses no problem for them. Feeling the vulnerability of nakedness shows that we recognize that we can be attacked and hurt by what is evil. Being without clothes to protect us from our vulnerability is like not having armor to shield us from attack. The serpent is treated here as an evil animal but later interpretation will see him as the devil in disguise. The offspring of the woman that will strike at the devil’s head, for us as Christians, is seen to be Jesus who being human himself as well as divine, is the champion for all of humanity in our struggle against evil. The devil will use every lowly device to strike at Jesus, which, to my understanding, is to say that the serpent or devil will be striking at his heal.
Mark 3:20-32. “Jesus came home with his disciples.” I am imaging that he returned to his own hometown of Nazareth. The gospel reading for this Sunday at one point speaks of his ‘relatives’ and then at another, of his ‘mother and brothers’ and then yet at another point, of Jesus’ ‘brother and sister and mother’. I understand these are all a reference to Jesus’ relatives or extended family that lived in Nazareth. They were understandably concerned that Jesus and his disciples were so deeply involved and successful in curing people in his ministry that they had hardly time to eat. I remember a mother having hardly any time to care for her own needs but somehow managed to feed herself between bites of food for her own daughter. I imagine that that is what Jesus and his disciples did. His family were important to him as blood relatives but infinitely more important to Jesus were those who were seeking to be spiritually related to God, those who would become the family of God in heaven by treating God as the God of their lives on earth. “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” What will lift us up to heaven is obedience to God our Father’s will; whereas, the downfall of Adam and Eve was their disobedience.
The section of this Gospel that talks about Beelzebub and Satan should be read as section separate from the first and last parts that talk about Jesus’ extended family (Mark 3:20-21, 31-35). The scribes, those who studied the Law and interpreted it, accused Jesus of working as an agent of Satan, who gave Jesus the power to order demons out of people. First, Jesus says it makes no sense for Satan to drive out Satan, thus defeating his own diabolic work in life. Secondly, Jesus says that, since he drives out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit, in effect the scribes are committing the unforgiveable sin of saying that the Holy Spirit was doing the devil’s work in driving out demons. In Jesus’ parable Satan is the strong man that the Holy Spirit ties up and from whom the Spirit takes the away the people that the demons had possessed. The people that the devil had possessed were the property that the Spirit plundered from the strong man’s, i. e., the devil’s, house. Here Jesus uses the imagery of war: “To the victor go the spoils.” The victory is God’s; the devil is defeated.
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1. A “spirit of faith” is engendered by the grace that God gives those who wish to believe in Jesus. Paul writes, “We are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” Physical things, including our bodies, must deteriorate but we put our faith in what is spiritual, that remains for all eternity. Paul continues, “We look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.” As long as we are loyal to the Lord, the Lord is loyal to us. The victory that belongs to God also belongs to us who choose to belong to God. In Ephesians 3:16b-18a, 19 Paul writes, May you “be strengthened with power, through his Spirit in the inner self, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”