“Now when the Pharisees heard [Jesus healed the blind and mute demon-possessed man (12:23)] they said, ‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.’ But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house’”
(Matthew 12:24-29, NKJV).
(Matthew 12:24-29, NKJV).
For those determined not to believe, even a miracle can be a waste of time and effort! When the Pharisees heard about Jesus’ power over demons, they didn’t doubt the miracle; but they refused to believe what the miracle indicated. They looked diligently for another explanation. “The miracle occurred,” they seem to said, “because Jesus was on the same team as the demons – they were playing along with him rather than being forcibly removed from their victims!”
Their explanation at first certainly seemed to them to fit the observable facts. But Jesus shattered their accusation with two devastating counterarguments. First, what could possibly accomplished if Satan were casting out Satan? If the demons were being exorcised by friendly fire, then Satan’s kingdom was self-destructing. Second, the Pharisees, so eager to discredit Jesus’ power, ended up discrediting their own exorcists. By saying that only the demonic can expel demonic, they had inadvertently offended some of their own group who were involved in confronting demonic powers (“…by whom do your sons cast them out?”). Jesus mildly pointed out that those people would not sit idly by and let their ministry be discredited.
But Jesus wasn’t finished. He now answered the question originally posed by the crowd that had witnessed the healing: “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?” (Matthew 12:23). He said, “But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you” (v.12:28). The “if” challenged Jesus’ listeners to make up their own minds. They had just seen the miracle and heard two widely divergent explanations; which one were they going to believe?
Think about this: Even today, we can hardly think about Jesus without asking questions, so it helps that the Bible doesn’t forbid questions. But it does press us to use questions on the way to faith rather than using unending questions to put off believing. If we insist that every question must be answered before we believe, we will never get around to believing. Now, after you encountered his miracles (healing, raising the dead, multiplying food, etc.) and people’s witnessed about him (the Father and the Holy Spirit during his baptism, John the Baptist, the old prophets by means of prophesies, those who he healed and done miracles, etc.), you must make up your own mind. Is Jesus just mere son of a man or the son of the devil or the Son of God? Jesus is asking you, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29).
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
Reference: Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2011) Week 12, Day 4.