Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see …
… when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? … But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (verses 22, 24-26, 28)
The Pharisees are so irritated and enraged with Jesus that they are plotting to kill him, a plot that ultimately came to fruition on Good Friday.
In the meantime, they can’t appreciate anything he says or does. Not even the miraculous release and healing of a demon-possessed man who could neither see nor speak. The surrounding crowds are astonished and ask of themselves the obvious question: “Could this be the Son of David?” Could this be Messiah?
But the Pharisees, blind and mute in their own right, neither express astonishment nor ask the obvious question. Instead, they are further enraged and rationalize away Jesus’ clear demonstration of power by assigning it to the work of the evil one. “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
Their conclusion satisfies their minds and sets them at ease. Jesus’ demonstration of supernatural power has a sinister source, they assert. Rather than needing to re-examine their prior conclusions, they instead feel fully justified in their antagonism, for it is now clear to them that Jesus is operating under the auspices of Satan himself.
Jesus, knowing their thinking, takes their conclusion in hand and exposes the fractured lines of its underlying logic. A kingdom divided against itself is ruined, he says. That much is clearly obvious. So, how could it possibly be that Satan would cast out Satan? Have you thought this through? It’s entirely illogical.
What then, Jesus implies, is the alternative explanation for this act of supernatural power? Is there any source other than God himself?
And then the drumroll sounds as Jesus presses the logic home. It simply can’t be Satan against Satan. “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
The tragedy, of course, is that the Pharisees were as spiritually blind and deaf and mute as ever. They couldn’t apprehend the logic, nor could they give expression to the wonder. But Messiah had truly come among them. The Kingdom was breaking in.
The kingdom of God has come upon us, too. Messiah is here. Lift your sights, set eyes on Jesus, welcome his presence, speak his praise, and submit to him as Lord.
Lord Jesus, I welcome your kingdom. I embrace you as Lord. Open my eyes to see you more clearly. Open my mouth to honour you with praise. To your glory. Amen.
Pray: Ask the Lord to open your eyes more clearly to him today. Don’t miss any of what he wants to show you. Ask the Lord to open your mouth – to speak his praise in worship, or speak his worth in testimony.
Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash