Divide and Consider
“Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” And knowing their thoughts He said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. “And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? “And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.”
Division; literally, “two visions.” Jesus has the people in awe but the Pharisees think he’s a demon. The Lord removed a demon from this man, so that he could see and speak, he was blind and he was dumb but Jesus fixes this problem. Pragmatically what would we say about Jesus healing the man? Wouldn’t we say he’s compassionate, benevolent, kind, generous etc. The last thing we would call him is evil, and once again, we weren’t looking for him, they were.
The Pharisees were so incredibly indoctrinated as to what the Messiah would look like that they failed to fathom what was before their faces. Therefore, it was imperative that they make excuses as to the miracles of Jesus and their motives. Jesus, they claimed, didn’t heal the man and cast out the demon because he was “the son of David,” but because he was a demon himself. Notice the context; *And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, ‘This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?’ But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.’” It seems like petty jealousy on the Pharisees part, which it was, but it goes much deeper than that.
“The son of David”
There is little doubt that the people wondered if Jesus was the son of David based upon 2 Samuel 7, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” The Lord told David that his kingdom would last forever–the people who lived under the authority of Rome, were looking for the son of David. Matthew Himself assures the reader that Jesus is the son of David, he begins this gospel account with the genealogy of Jesus (see my missive on Matthew 1, Genesis Genealogies and Jesus). Yet it seems the Pharisees misunderstood what the Lord said to David and I think most churches in America do as well. The proof is in the combined contexts of Matthew and Samuel.
Digging a little deeper into the context of 2 Samuel 7, we find something quite common for prophetical passages. Notice, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever.” Did Jesus commit iniquity, or is there duality in this prophecy? Clearly in the short-term, the Lord, who is actually Jesus himself (John 1:18), is speaking of Solomon but in the Long-term he is speaking of himself. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus got the rods and the strokes of men, but it was for David’s iniquity, Solomon’s iniquity and our iniquity. The people and especially the Pharisees, were looking for the new Solomon, the great king. However, they were looking at it through earthly lenses, much like we do today.
They were expecting the new Solomon to come and restore the earthly majesty to the Kingdom of Israel. In the same way we believe that Jesus will return to restore earthly majesty to the Kingdom of Israel during a future kingdom that lasts a literal thousand years. We’ll come back to this.
Beelzebul the ruler of the demons
In 2 Kings 1, we read; “Now Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. And Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber which was in Samaria, and became ill. So he sent messengers and said to them, ‘Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.’ But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?’'” There is one God, but Ahazia sent to inquire of another. Throughout the years Beelzebul became synonymous with the devil, the context of Matthew confirms this; “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” Context is King and expository exegesis of examples enlightens! I always remind myself to keep it simple stupid. We clearly see in the context that the Pharisees were accusing Jesus of using power from the devil. Which is curious–the Pharisees, by accusing Jesus of being a tool of the devil, confirm that the miracles are in fact miraculous. Yet we must not lose sight that the Pharisees are accusing Jesus of working miracles through the power of Satan. Keep it in mind for the immediate context and we will come back to this in the further context as well.
Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste
“Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?” Jesus, once again, shuts them up with a question, if Satan removes Satan, how can he stand? It’s sublimely simple! We tend to think too much over the details when Jesus makes things as simple as possible. Jesus can’t be using Satan’s power to destroy Satan, it’s completely counterintuitive. Though there are times when we will fight fire with fire or even water with water, as a general rule, that would be considered counterintuitive. Maybe in some sci-fi, horror story an evil genius would attempt to harness the sun’s rays, in an attempt to use their energy to destroy the sun but in reality, one that is divided against itself cannot stand, whether a house, a kingdom or even a church, two visions divide.
They shall be your judges
“And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Context is King, notice the words and consider the culture. Look closely at this next rhetorical question of Jesus–our response should be, ouch, you really let them have it, even though Jesus is not being confrontational. To the contrary, he’s simply using their words against them, in the form of a question. The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons through the power of Satan and Jesus quickly debunked that claim and thought process. Now, he is juxtaposing their words and thoughts and placing them squarely on their shoulders. In essence, Jesus asks, if I am casting out Satan by Satan, who are you using to cast out demons? Remember, context is king, listen to the words; “And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?” Jesus is truly casting out demons but it appears that the Pharisees or their disciples, attempted to or even faked casting out demons. Jesus brings this to their attention and we notice that they remain silent. Jesus continues, “by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges.” In other words, the truth is being exposed.
The Kingdom of God has come (choosing sides)
“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” Jesus explains that he can’t be casting out Satan in the name of Satan because a house divided can not stand. Then where does he get his power, from God? Yes, it is exactly what he is claiming, and we’ll get back to this, but he also claims that he is from God–the Kingdom of God has come. I can’t write that enough–the Kingdom of God has come. Jesus is fulfilling the forever Kingdom prophecy. Jesus is king forever. He is the fulfillment of what was told to David. “And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” Jesus sits upon that throne. The strong man has been bound and the house has been plundered to make way for the King of kings and Lord of lords. And either we are with Jesus and gather or we are against him and scatter.
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.” This is the conclusion of this particular scene and teaching. The conclusion of Jesus is that since his power is not from the devil, it must be from the Spirit of God. And if it is from the Spirit of God, to call it of the devil is clearly blaspheme. Jesus grasps his humanity and shows his utter reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Epilogue: The age to come
Some things that I keep hearing are dates of Christ’s return, signs of Christ’s return and reasons he can’t return yet. I have some important breaking news, one cannot set dates, Jesus’s return could be a thousand years from now and it could be before I finish this missive, because nothing is left undone except salvation. Actually I hope he does return before I finish because once again, I am going to a place that few accept. But in the same way, I am hoping for more days, because I am only now getting glimpses of who he truly is, what his kingdom looks like and that we are in the age to come. Perhaps you call these days “the last days.” I would agree, we are in the last days that started during the time of the apostles. It is also “the age to come.” When Jesus rose again after dying on the cross humanity entered into a new epoch of time, figuratively speaking. The disciples couldn’t discern epochs, what makes us more knowledgeable than them? But Jesus makes things clear in the context of Matthew 12 that he is ushering in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, the Jewish temple, religion, practice and kingdom were being fulfilled by him. And Matthew believed this, and it was his aspiration to his audience–despite what we are told and taught. Israel does not have to be restored, Jesus is Israel.