Today we find Jesus once again locking horns with the Pharisees and religious leaders. You can find our story in Matthew 12:24-30, Mark 3:22-27, and Luke 11:14-23. Jesus had just called a demon out of a man. The Pharisees tried to discredit Jesus by claiming that He got this power to cast out demons from Beelzebul, the ruler of demons (also known as Satan). Jesus uses the following parable to show how absurd this accusation (and incidentally blasphemy) was. I’d like to present this parable in two parts.
Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you… He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters. (Luke 11:14-20, 23 NASB).
Or a more modern phrasing may go something like this:
A company who has employees that are constantly undoing each other’s work will never progress, the business would fail. If Satan is casting out his own demons, he won’t make any progress in establishing his kingdom. You are either for Me or against Me, if you are not working with Me, you are working against Me.
What Jesus is saying in this part of the parable makes sense, if you are trying to establish an agenda, having a friend go and undo all your work is pretty counter-productive. But if Jesus is indeed casting demons out by the power of God, then God is on His side and His whole mission can only be truth. Sometimes the Pharisees and Jewish leaders tried so hard to discredit Jesus that they didn’t always think their statements through. You have to imagine that the Pharisees and leaders were pretty upset at Jesus for calling them out on their foolishness in front of all those people. As a side note, it is interesting that as Jesus says “He who is not with Me is against Me”, He doesn’t not imply the existence of neutral parties. You cannot remain neutral. You are either for Jesus, or you aren’t.
Now for the second part of the parable which is still related to the topic, but slightly different:
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. (Luke 11:21-22 NASB)
A modern way to put this might sound something like this:
If you wish to steal from a man who is heavily armed, you must first unarm him and render him harmless before you can make off with his things.
Now, think about the claim that the Pharisees are making here. They are saying that Jesus is a servant of Satan. A mere underling! They have verbally stripped Jesus of His holy status of the Son of God. This is outright blasphemy! Blasphemy said out of complete ignorance is still blasphemy, no one would know that better than those making the accusation. So Jesus makes this statement about the strong man to say: not only does He have His OWN power (given to Him by His Father) over demons, but He even has power over Beelzebul (the strong man, in our analogy), himself! God has dominion over all, including the Prince of Demons. If only the Pharisees had even a clue of Who they were messing with…
I’d like to point out one more thing before I end this post. Look at verse 16 in Luke 11: “Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven” (NASB). They were demanding a sign. He had just cast out a demon!! What more did they want? And yet, how often do we, ourselves, ask for signs when the signs are right in front of us, we are just too blind to see. Let us pray for eyes to see and ears to hear.
God bless you all throughout the week and may He give you the insight and wisdom to see what He wants you to see.