Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thoughts on Lent 3 and the Beelzebul Controversy

Each of the Synoptics has its own version of the Beelzebul controversy. But Luke's version breaks pattern and for a reason. Luke is taking great pains to demonstrate, prove perhaps, that Jesus is the promised prophet like Moses. To Him they should listen, continually keeping and hearing His Word by gathering together with Him where He promised to be.

Here's some notes on what sticks out:
  • Luke 11:16--the Jews ask Jesus for a sign to test Him
  • Luke changes the reference in 11:20 from "the Spirit of God" to "the finger of God" make a clear reference to the OT text appointed for this Sunday, Exod 8:19
  • Luke excludes the saying about blaspheming the Holy Spirit but includes the saying about continually gathering together with Him and hearing and keeping His Word. Taking what is in Matthew and Mark in the negative and putting it in the positive.
  • Luke changes the parable of strong man from one of stealing to that of a battle and victory over a strong lord.
Therefore, Luke emphasizes the Exodus and the victory over Pharaoh and Egypt (the strong man parable), those who followed, gathered together with Moses and listened to him as opposed to those who didn't and died, their bodies scattered throughout the wilderness (the gathering/scattering and hearing/keeping sayings). Thus, the fundamental question that the Jews of Jesus' day are asking here is the same as that of the Israelites as they wandered the wilderness: "Is the Lord among us or not? (Exod 17:7)" They grumble while on their Exodus (Luke 9:31) toward Jerusalem. Is the Lord among us or not (Luke 11:15-16)? This is all wonderful stuff that you're doing Jesus but the magicians of Egypt could do many things too. So are you with us or against us?

Jesus flips the question on its head. My work is the work of the finger of God. And the real question isn't whether I'm with you or against you. The real question is this: Will YOU gather together in the place where I am and will YOU continually listen to my voice, hear and keep my word. I AM with you. But will YOU be where I am?

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