Luke 11:24 – 28
The Return of the Unclean Spirit
24 ‘When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting-place, but not finding any, it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” 25When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.’
27 While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’ 28But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’
Continuing the discussion of his casting out of evil spirits, Jesus has reminded the people that they also have exorcists, and challenged them to respond as to who empowers them to cast out evil spirits. Now, he points out that something must replace the evil spirit within that person – that something, of course, being God. If not, the spirit, after wandering for a time, returns and brings other evil spirits, and the person is worse than before. Think of this in terms of addiction – a person who has an addiction may attempt to cast out that “demon” on his own, and is generally unsuccessful – the “demon” knows his weaknesses. He may attempt a treatment program that is successful for a time, but eventually the “demon” returns. The only “program” with a proven track record is AA, and that, I believe, is because it gives the person two things that keep the “demon” away – the presence of God, whom they call a “Higher Power”, active in their lives; and the community to support when the person feels weak.
Or, think of the “demon” of anger and hate. Try wiping those out on your own! You might, for a time, practice positive thinking, but the bitterness and resentment come back. But when the love of Christ fills your heart, it does not leave any room for bitterness, anger, resentment, and hate. Those “demons” cannot possess you.
Suddenly, a woman in the crowd interrupts – blessed is your mother, she says, though not in exactly those words. Perhaps what she is really saying is, “I wish I could have been your mother; I have longed for such a son.” In that culture, women were judged by the male offspring they produced for their husbands. Jesus says that anyone who hears his words and obeys them is blessed. The woman can be blessed for her own life, her own obedience to the will of God. While children and grandchildren are indeed a blessing to men and women, she does not have to be blessed only through her children. She is a whole being who has the opportunity, for herself, to make decisions, to love God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love her neighbor as herself. She has the opportunity to follow Jesus’ teachings. Jesus is an advocate for women’s rights in a culture where they had none!