14Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15But some of them said, "By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons." 16Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.
17Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. 19Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
21"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.
23"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.
24"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."
27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."
28He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." (NIV)
1. The devil and his workers can inflict harm in a great number of ways (v.14).
Demons may possess bodies - Lk 4:33-36
They may drive others into solitude - Lk 8:29
They may afflict people's mental and physical abilities - Lk 9:39
In v. 14 of this chapter, Satan has taken away somone's ability to exercise one of his five senses.
- One should not necessarily conclude, however, that all - or even most - diseases and ailments are a direct result of Satan's activity. More often than not, they are simply the result of living in a sin-damaged world (Gen 3:17-19; Rom 8:20-21; Rev 21:1-4).
- The greatest harm that Satan does is blinding the minds and hearts of those who do not believe the Gospel (2 Co 4:4), in large part by appearing as an angel of light (2 Co 10:14-15).
Application: While we should not fear Satan because of Christ, we should take him seriously.
2. That Jesus performed miracles could not be denied even by those who opposed Him (vv. 15-16).
"The distance between the present and past has allowed some to claim that Jesus did not really perform these wonders or give this type of evidence of his unique relationship to God. They attempt to relegate Jesus to the level of other greats of religion. But the opponents living in Jesus' time did not have the luxury of such a claim. They could not deny that he performed deeds of unusual power. The Jewish records we possess that alludes to Jesus report the unusual nature of his deeds and try to explain them, not deny them" (Bock, NIV Application Commentary: Luke, p. 320.)
And in verses 15 and 16, this is precisely what some unbelievers among the crowd did after witnessing Jesus' healing in verse 14.
Application: Believers need not be troubled by present-day scoffs and attacks on the miracles of Christ. The people of His time knew better!
3. There will always be those who are determined not to see anything good in the works of God (vv. 15-16).
- Because Satan has blinded them (2 Co 4:4).
- Because they have hardened their own hearts. They have done this to such a degree, in fact, that it is precisely because Jesus speaks the truth that they will not believe (Jn 8:44-46).
In verses 15 and 16, we see that the crowd was so opposed to Jesus that they were willing to come up with the most irrational source for Jesus' power - Satan and demons!
Application: As important as it is for purposes of evangelism and discipleship, the practice of "apologetics" (i.e. defending the validity of the Christian faith by appealing to history, science, etc.) has its limitations; at the end of the day, only the Holy Spirit can persuade the unbelieving heart of its need for Christ.
4. Whatever rationalizations people give for their unbelief fall apart in the end (vv. 17-19).
- Jesus reveals his opponents' folly for what it is by asking a simple question: how can Satan's rule survive if his actions contradict his plan?
"if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges." (v. 19) Commentators differ on who Christ means by "your followers" - Jewish exorcists? Or his own disciples? The latter makes more sense, because it is difficult to believe that the LORD would use exorcists among the Jewish people unless they accepted Christ as their messiah.
Application: Any objection to the person and work of Christ cannot ultimately hold water. Why, then, do many continue to disbelieve even though they might realize this? Not because they are rationally unpersuaded, but because they refuse to submit to Christ's lordship (Lk 13:34; Jn 3:19).
5. God's final, ultimate rule has been inaugurated by Christ's victorious triumphs over Satan (vv. 20-22).
By speaking of a strong man overcome by a stronger man in verses 20 to 22, Jesus gives a picture of His power over the devil. Through his casting out of demons, healing people, and ultimately, His cross-work, Jesus has emerged as the Victor over Satan and all of His angels (Col 2:13-15; Heb 2:14-15; 1 Jn 3:8). Upon his return, He will condemn them to the lake of fire, once and for all (Rev 20:7-10).
This is good news for those who trust in Jesus, but bad news for those who would accuse Jesus of driving out demons by Satan's power - they have committed the unpardonable sin, which is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:28-30). Therefore, the arrival of God's kingdom - for them - means Christ's coming in judgment, not salvation; they will be sentenced to eternal damnation (2 Th 1:8-10; Rev 20:11-15).
Application: Those whose faith is in Christ should thank God for what His kingdom will mean for them, and plea for His mercy upon those they know whose hearts do not accept God's rule.
6. Those who refuse to believe in Christ and submit to His authority are not left in a neutral position, but in a state that is even more helpless against evil than before (vv. 23-26).
As we think over Jesus' description of Satan's relationship to a man's "house" (likely his heart) in verses 24 to 26, we might well wonder what He means by the house "swept clean and put in order" (v.25) at the moment more spirits arrive. This expression seems to suggest that even unbelievers can "purge themselves" of evil (at least of evil practices) for a time, while still refusing to let Jesus be King of their hearts. But as long as they stand opposed to Christ, they open themselves to all kinds of further deception by Satan and his spirits.
Application: Passive indifference towards Jesus results in God's wrath just as active rebellion does. Therefore, may this prompt us even more to pray for those we know who don't know God.
7. No one is dearer or nearer to Jesus than the one who takes Him at His word, and lives accordingly (vv. 27-28).
We shouldn't interpret Jesus' words here as meaning that Mary, his biological mother, was not one who heard God's word and did it (remember, after all, her strong faith as indicated by Lk 1:38 and 2:19, 51). Rather, he means that there is nothing in a group of people's biological ties to Jesus that necessarily endears them to Him.
For that matter, we shouldn't think that the people of Jesus' time had such great faith just because they could see and touch him. Note how Jesus says to Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (Jn 20:29).
Application: No matter how much or little "fruit" or "success" may result from our faith in this life, we may be sure that the Lord sees our faith, and He is gladdened (Col 3:23-24; Heb 6:10).
Discussion Question #1: What important things about Christ and the Christian life has this passage reminded you of?
Discussion Question #2: What important things about Satan and evil has this passage reminded you of?