We live in a world where people focus on possessions and experiences but, says Jesus, these are not the things that matter. In Luke 12 we read his comment that, “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of (our) possessions” (12:15). Chapter 11 contains quite a number of sayings of Jesus which challenge our understanding; one is a parable (verses 24-26) about an “unclean spirit” which, when it has “gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there”. Then Jesus gives the lesson of the parable, “the last state of that person is worse than the first”.

So Jesus is making a point about our state of mind and what might possess it. In Luke 9 we read the comment of Jesus’ disciples James and John who said, when a Samaritan village did not provide for them, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them? But he (Jesus) turned and rebuked them, you do not know what manner of spirit you are of” (verses 52-55). Earlier Jesus had sent out “the twelve and gave them power …” But now, in this situation, their spirit, that is, their attitude of mind, was wrong.

So the lesson of the parable is that in getting rid of bad thinking it is essential we put good thinking in its place and not leave “the house” of our mind empty. Now back in chapter 11, verse 27 contains a significant point. “As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him. ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!’”

This shows the woman’s mind was focused on physical things – but there is no lasting value in that! The worship of the virgin Mary for which God’s word gives no support is meaningless – she is dead and buried and awaits the resurrection like all other worthies who have served the Almighty; as we read in Hebrews of those who do God’s will, “These all died in faith, not have received the things promised, but having seen than and greeted them from afar …” (11:13).

Finally, notice how Jesus responded to the woman who made this comment. He said, “blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” And, wonderfully, we can read it whenever we want to! But maybe we have a “spirit” in our house that hinders this? Let us be blessed through the word of God and keep in our house what we read so that our minds are dominated by a right spirit.