Jesus and Beelzebul
14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Return of an Unclean Spirit
24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
- There were two ways to explain how Jesus could command the demons. Either he was using power given to him by God or he was somehow in league with Satan (Beelzebul or Beelzebub, a nickname meaning Lord of flies, used as a way to refer to the source of evil).
- Jesus’ opponents knew that if they could get people to believe that Jesus was in league with Satan, then they could reject his teaching and turn people against him. As Jesus said, “If your not with me, your against me.”
- Of course Jesus explains that what they are saying is not true but the opposite is true. If Satan opposes himself then he is divided and has already lost the battle. And what about the Jewish exorcists? What power do they use? Are they in league with Satan as well? This is the arguement that Jesus presents.
- Now Jesus is more then just another exorcist. He casts out demons by “the finger of God”. This phrase echoes Exodus 8:19 where Moses performed great wonders that the magicians of Egypt could not reproduce. The God of the Exodus is at work in the world through Jesus. This is the same power that will defeat death at the end of this Gospel. Jesus has tied up the strongman and can now run his household.
- Jesus ends with a warning. If we cleanse ourselves from evil and do not replace the evil with good then the evil will return worse than before. Wright likens this to Israel being cleansed from evil, similar to the demon possessed man. If God does not dwell with them then Israel will be vulnerable to the demon’s return. Jesus was the return of God to Israel, if they did not accept him then the evil which led them to ruin in the past would return.
- Jesus gets some unlikely support from a woman in the crowd. “When the word of God is at work, what is required is not applause but obedience.” Am I keeping the word of God?
Tags: Beelzebub, Beelzebul, Bible, Bible Study, Christian living, Christianity, Daily Devotional, Demons, Disciple, Discipleship, Exorcism, Exorcist, Gospel, Healing, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Luke, N.T. Wright, New Testament, Obedience, Satan, The Gospel of Luke