Today’s Scripture – November 2, 2016

Matthew 9:32-34 (NIV) While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus.  And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke.  The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Demon possession had been around for a while, and there were many rituals and ceremonies designed to drive out the demons.  But those ceremonies were often ineffectual.

Jesus, on the other hand, had a 100% effectiveness rate, and he didn’t use any ceremonies – no candles, no oil, no chants or secret words.  He simply commanded the demons to go, and they went.

It was this simplicity and its evident effectiveness that amazed the people.  They were so used to all the rituals and paraphernalia that it seemed bizarre to them that the deed could be done so simply.

It was that same absence of rituals, and the same effectiveness, that set the Pharisees off.  They watched Jesus cast out the demons, and they got a terrible pit in their stomachs.  They knew that their methods rarely had any kind of success.  But here was Jesus, the man that they were trying to discredit as a charlatan and a lawbreaker, doing what they were unable to do!

Their kneejerk reaction was not to look deeply into their own hearts, to see what kind of righteousness and holiness Jesus had that they lacked.  They were confident in their own rightness before God.  That left only one possibility in their minds:  Jesus had to be casting out demons by the power of a stronger demon!

This charge was answered by Jesus on a later occasion (see Matthew 12:22-32), when He pointed out that satan had nothing to gain by attacking his own forces, and that to call the Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus a demon was skating on the edge of an unforgiveable sin.

Bur for now, Jesus simply moved on.  The people who had seen Him cast out the demon and the man who had been set free needed no defense from Him.  They knew that it was the finger of God, not the talon of a demon, that had cast out the demon, and had changed all their lives for the better.

Father, fear and defensiveness seem to have been at the heart of so many of the errors of the Pharisees.  Simply surrendering to Jesus and acknowledging that He was Your Son would threaten all that they believed.  So they went the other way, accusing Him of being in cahoots with the forces of evil.  Later they would do the same with His followers.  But in doing so, they found themselves fighting a losing battle against You.  Help me to take the same view of things that Jesus had whenever I do good and am accused of evil motives.  Help me to just move on, leaving the situation in Your hands, and to only speak when You give me the words.  Amen.

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