The man who gets rid of an evil spirit by cleaning his house and putting it in order...
When the pharisees say, “Give us a sign,” it is actually an attempt to get God to explain himself; which is equivalent to getting the unknown to explain itself. If the God of the unknown has to be inexplicable, he should at least be rational about it. Because what the pharisees (and us) secretly want is a God who fits nicely into a corner of what we already know.
We demand the unknowable God step into our preexisting paradigm (which is nothing more than the known; “a man’s house;” our conscious ego structure) and explain himself—in an amazing way—sure!—but certainly only on my terms. This type of conscious attitude toward what we don’t know has the ironically unconscious result of soothing our ego and explaining away any uncomfortable paradoxes erupting from the mouth of this sudden sojourner between our conscious and unconscious lives. We ask for some explaining; but really we just want to explain (him) away.
That way we don’t really have to deal with him.
It is just the same way with the darker side of the unknown. We want to sweep the “evil spirits” we refuse to see about ourselves—but can vaguely sense—far way; back into the unknown desert of our unconscious and pretend they no longer exist. Oh, but they exist. They are alive and thriving.
This is the problem of the brood of vipers—those who are “worse off than before.”
It is a description of how we unfortunately deal with unconscious elements in our lives by rationality—by rationalizing. We think we can rid our conscious lives of the dark spirit we cannot see, but vaguely sense, by ordering, explaining, and structuring the little we can see: our knowledge, our ideological house. We get rid of all unknowns—all grime and paradox. We think ourselves, not only into a corner, but into a sterile and empty corner. We let our rules, reasons, and worldview do the work of shielding us from the truth. “I’m good,” we say naively as the darkness beneath us grows. The man’s “broom” that sweeps the house clean in Jesus’ warning is similar to King Saul’s armor: a false knowledge giving false security. A false morality to set aside, untouched, while the taunting giant is steadfastly ignored.
Evil loves this.
The evil spirit multiplies in the arid soil of our blindness and false morality.
But it can not stand water. It can not stand the water of life that penetrates deep into the earth revealing the truth about ourselves with ruthless tenacity. The evil spirit does not like the vivid green of abundant life. By honestly seeing and confronting the evil spirit within us, we somehow invite living water--spontaneous life--along with all its paradoxes and fecundity, into our conscious existence. It is to open our house to a redemptive relationship with all we can sense, but cannot see. It is in really having life within that explains life without—not polishing our knowledge and putting it in order. One way explains everything, the other explains it away.
“And he was worse off than before.”