To start off today’s post I want to explore two short passages from the Gospel of Luke which can seem somewhat odd when placed together. The first:
49 John answered, “Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.”
and the second:
14 Now he was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the dumb man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Be-el′zebul, the prince of demons”; 16 while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and house falls upon house. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Be-el′zebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Be-el′zebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; 22 but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. 23 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.
Reading those two passages recently, I wondered how exactly this worked. How is it that those who aren’t against the apostles are for them, and yet at the same time those who aren’t for, or with, Jesus are against him? Trying to resolve this in my head, I think that the solution might be found in this passage from the Gospel of John:
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.
We are either for Jesus, or against him. There is no “Middle Way” as far as He is concerned. Now, those who are for Him ought to be on the side of His disciples. After all, that littlest thing we do for our fellow Brothers and Sisters we also do for Him. At the same time, those who are not for Him will be opposed to His disciples. How could they not? His disciples, his friends, keep His commandments, and those who are against Him despise His commandment. They cannot help but oppose Jesus’ disciples, as His followers are an extension of Him:
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27-31)
His enemies struck at His body while He walked among us. Therefore it is only natural that they will continue to strike at the Church. With the world hating Him so, only those who are for Him will be for His disciples. At least, that is how I read it. I’m curious what my readers have to say about this. Do any of my Catholic/Orthodox commenters know of any writings of the Saints on this? I would appreciate confirmation or correction.