This Sunday’s Gospel begins with people trying to understand how Jesus is able to cast out the spiritual powers that have rebelled against God. People try to understand what is happening in earthly terms, in light of their experience in a created order that has gone sideways from God’s original plan. And when they do that, they fundamentally miss the point of what is happening.
The key to understanding this parable (as Jesus describes it) is to keep in mind the pleas of the Hebrew people to the Prophet Samuel many years prior to Jesus’ actions. In those days the people beseeched God to grant them a King – so that they could be like all the other nations of the Earth. God and the prophet try to explain why this is not good for them, but they insist, and the story of the nation takes a complicated turn away from the path they had been following.
But it’s the idea of a nation ordered on a hierarchy of power that helps unlock the deeper meaning behind what Jesus is telling the people of his day – and ours.