Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn’t speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see. The crowd was amazed and asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?” But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house. Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me. So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come. A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.
As we follow Jesus, He EMPOWERS us to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Overall Commentary: 🌎
Jesus is not "in the wild." His disciples of likely returned from their adventure and are following Jesus again. This period of the Gospel is possibly one of the most important. We begin to see Jesus facing increased opposition and calling His disciples to stand with Him. We begin to see more and more criticism and Jesus answers the critics. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus has decided it is time to expose the critics for continually working to divide the crowd.
As we follow Jesus, sometimes He draws a line in the sand.
It is unfortunate that people think of Jesus as weak and weary. The Bible calls Him gentle. That does not mean weak. Gentleness is controlled strength. Jesus knew exactly who He was. Occasionally the Lion needs to shake His mane and remind everyone who the King is. Jesus has had enough of His critics confusing what He is doing and He exposes their hearts and shows us His power at the same time.
Verse 22-24: The confrontation.
- Demon-possessed man- throughout the ministry of Jesus, one of His main ministries was exorcism. It is a matter of theological debate about where exactly the ranks of satan's armies come from. Most say they are fallen angels. The late Dr. Michael Heiser believed they were disembodied spirits from the offspring of the Nephilim. The "where" and the "who" are not as important as the fact they have no power over a Christ-follower.
- "Could it be?"- They were asking this question because it was well known this would be one of the main witnesses to the appearance of the Messiah. This is what would have panicked the Pharisees into making a drastic claim.
- Beelzebul- Other translations have the name "Beelzebul" in their reading. Beelzebul comes from the ancient god Baal. It literally means the "lord of dung" or "lord of the flies." It was another way of satan. That's why our translation just says it outright. It was much like the phrase "He Who Must Not Be Named."
Verse 25-29: The King is Powerful.
- A Kingdom- Jesus gives us a peek into the Spirit world so we can the devil has a kingdom. He is organized and has declared war on the people of God.
- Civil War- The thing every kingdom fears the most is not the enemies without but the enemies within. Jesus is showing their argument to be nonsensical. The devil would not cast out the devil because that would be a loss for him. The devil is not out to play games. He is out to win.
- Your own exorcists- There were exorcists at the time. There are historical references. They were not overly successful but sometimes relieved the torment of someone in this situation. It usually involved incantations and stinky substances.
- The Kingdom of God has 'arrived' among you- the word "arrived" doesn't do justice to this phrase. It is an intense phrase, almost like someone breaking through a brick wall. It would be better to say, "The Kingdom of God is breaking in among you."
- Strong man- Jesus refers to the devil as a strong man guarding his things. The only way to take a strong man's things is to first deal with the strong man. Jesus is saying He has come to deal with the devil to rescue His kids.
Verse 30: The King demands commitment.
- Is this a contradiction?- Short answer, no. In other places, Jesus says, "Those who are not against Me are for me." The context of the passages helps them make sense. The bottom line is that Jesus is saying you have to decide who you will follow.
Verse 31-32: The King tells the truth.
- Blaspheme of the Holy Spirit- the most straightforward definition is the willful, persistent, defiant working AGAINST the Holy Spirit. This is not something you can commit in one moment in time and not something you do on accident. The Pharisees were willfully, consistently coming out against Jesusa and, even at this moment, He is warning them not to step over the line.
- Why can opposing the Son of God be forgiven but not the opposition of the Holy Spirit?- Jesus is the object of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the one who draws us toward salvation. Therefore, you can reject Jesus, and that doesn't stop you from receiving Him at another time. However, if you reject the Holy Spirit, there isn't any other way to come to Jesus. There is no plan B. The Holy Spirit is all you get. So if you consistently turn your back on Him, there is no other way to Jesus.
Verse 33-37: The King knows our heart.
- Our words reveal our heart- Jesus finishes this discourse by telling the Pharisees He knows their hearts. He knows what is going on, so He is being so straightforward. Jesus knows us truly. This can be the greatest news or the most discomforting. The best news is Jesus loves you anyway. If we get honest with Him and turn our hearts to Him, He will wash away our sins every time.
What can we learn from this passage?
This passage is a great reminder that our King is no pushover. Even the Cross was Jesus' plan. He never did anything He did not allow to happen. When the Pharisees continued pushing, He finally told them exactly what was happening. The result was something amazing. We are able to see the power of our King. We are able to see our need to commit to His kingdom. We are able to hear the truth, and we learn that He knows our hearts.
This can bring us joy. We don't serve a weak King. We serve the True King and Champion of our Souls.
Questions/Journal Prompts for reflection:
- Do you ever think of Jesus as a gentle but STRONG King? Discuss.
- Have you ever wondered about the blaspheme of the Holy Spirit?
- What does it mean to you for God to truly know our hearts?
- After today’s message, what is your next step?