Jesus And His Enemies
( Originally Published 1915 )
AFTER HIS journey through southern Galilee, which was the second of his preaching journeys in the land, Jesus came again to Capernaum. With him came a great multitude of people who had listened to him and longed to hear more of his words. For every one who met Jesus was drawn to him in love and desired to be with him. Nearly all who heard him loved him, but not all. Both the scribes, who were the teachers of the people in the law of Moses, and the Pharisees, who pretended to a religion which was false and not real, hated Jesus more and more and spoke evil of him to the people. They declared that a wicked spirit was in him, and that his power to work wonders came from Satan, the evil one.
One day there was brought to Jesus a man in whom was an evil spirit; and the spirit had taken away both his sight and his hearing, so that he could neither see, nor hear, nor speak. Jesus spoke to the evil spirit in the man, saying:
"Come out of this man, O wicked spirit, and never enter into him again!"
The evil spirit left the man's body, and for a moment he lay on the ground as though he were dead. But soon he rose up, entirely well and able to see, to hear and to speak. All those who saw this cure were filled with wonder, and many said, "Is not this the Son of David, whom the prophets promised should come and be our King?"
But when the Pharisees and scribes heard of this wonder, they said, "This fellow casts out the evil spirits because the chief of all the evil spirits is in him and gives him this power."
Jesus knew their thoughts, and he said:
"Any kingdom that is divided into two sides that are fighting each other will soon fall in pieces; and any family where people are quarreling will soon come to naught. If Satan, the evil one; is casting out evil spirits, then Satan's kingdom will soon fall, for it is divided against itself. But if by the power of God I cast out the bad spirits from men, then you may be sure that God is among you.
But this report that Jesus was possessed by evil spirits went abroad among the people, and some believed it. It came to the brothers of Jesus, who at that time did not fully believe in him; and it came to Mary his mother, filling her with alarm. She feared that her Son, working without any rest, and bearing such heavy loads of care, had lost his mind. Some said that the family of Jesus should take him home and not allow him to disturb the people, for they. said, "He is beside himself!"
Mary and her sons came to the house where Jesus was talking to the people and curing the sick. So great was the crowd around the door that they could not get into the house, and they sent word inside that the mother of Jesus and his brothers were out in the street and wished to speak with him. They told Jesus:
"Your mother and your brothers are outside and they wish to speak with you."
- 'But he answered the man who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"
He turned to his disciples, stretched out his hands, and said:
"Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever will do the will of my Father in heaven, that one is my brother, and my sister and my mother!"
Jesus meant by this that dear as his mother was to him, those who were ready to follow his teachings were dearer still.
Some of the scribes and Pharisees spoke to Jesus, saying:
"Teacher, show us some sign that you have come from God."
They wished him to work some miracle, some wonder in their sight. But Jesus never would do any of his great works merely to be seen. He cured the sick and cast out evil spirits out of pity for people in trouble, but not as a show of his power. He said to these people:
"It is a wicked and unfaithful time when people seek for a sign. I will give you no sign now, but after a time you shall see a sign, though you will not believe it. It will be the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days inside the great fish, so I the Son of Man will be three days under the ground, and like Jonah will come forth living.
"The people of Nineveh, to whom Jonah preached, will rise up in the day when God shall judge the world, and they shall show that they were better than the people of this time, for when Jonah preached to them, they turned from their sins and sought God. And One greater than Jonah is here, yet they will not listen to him!
"The Queen of Sheba will rise up in the day of judgment with the people of this time, and will prove them to be unfaithful. For she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wise words of Solomon; and one greater than Solomon is here, yet you will not listen to him."