I’m continuing to post through the Gospel of Luke. We’re in chapter 11, where Jesus has just given His disciples a teaching on prayer. When we pray like Christ, we’re calling for God’s kingdom to be manifest on earth.
When that takes place, we experience the miraculous. There are many responses when that happens. Now we’ll see an example of this in Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.
Luke 11:14 NIV
Here was something to praise God over. A man was unable to speak, and probably unable to hear, because of demonic oppression. Jesus cast out the demon and the man was healed. This should have cause everyone to enjoy God’s goodness. But, that wasn’t the case.
But some of them said, “By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.
Luke 11:15-16 NIV
These responses simply amaze me. Instead of enjoying the blessing of God, the religious leaders felt the need to prove their authority.
Some of them, out of jealousy, said the Jesus could cast out demons because He was one of them. Others wanted to inflate their egos by saying they needed the Lord to show them a sign that proved what He was doing was of God.
The Lord just cast out a demon. That should be sign enough!
This is what happens when people who are self-important run into someone with real power. They have to prove, mostly to themselves, that they’re really superior. However, I think it was clear to the crowd exactly what was going on.
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub.”
Luke 11:17-18 NIV
The first thing that Jesus does, is to prove the foolishness of their argument. Kingdoms cannot stay strong if they’re divided. Satan is not going to cast out a demon if God’s going to get glory from it.
But, there’s another important point I want to make here. This is not the first time the Pharisees have seen Jesus cast out devils. They’ve witnessed many miracles at His hand.
The above verse says that Jesus knew their thoughts. The word, thought, in that verse, literally means their conclusions, something they had already thought through.
Their response to the miracle was not something they said quickly, without thinking. This was something that they had discussed previously and had planned to use at the next opportunity. They concluded that the best way to undermine the Lord’s work, was to attack His character.
The religious leaders wanted people to question His motives. Is He really operating in the power of God? Has He really proven that His power is from the kingdom of Heaven?
This is why, on many occasions, Jesus seemed to be very strict with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.
“Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”
Luke 11:19-20 NIV
The fact is, the Pharisees understood that it was the power of God driving out demons. There were some Pharisees who truly trusted God and were operating in the same authority. Jesus encouraged these foolish ones to go to them and let them judge the argument.
The lesson is that we need to be careful who we judge as to the validity of their ministries. You might not like their personalities. However, that doesn’t mean that God’s not working through them.
Question: How judgmental are you of other ministries?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi