Matthew 12:22-24 (NIV) Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
The Pharisees were trapped in a corner by their worldview. The believed themselves to be the pinnacle of holiness and righteousness, an opinion that they were unwilling to change, since any change would attack their own self-identity.
Jesus did not believe that they were holy and righteousness, disagreed with many of their legal interpretations, and did not practice the disciplines that they believed were essential. Therefore, in their worldview, He had to be identified as evil and ungodly, a Sabbath breaker, and one who led people astray.
The problem that they continued to encounter was that Jesus could do miracles, and they couldn’t. Jesus’ power seemed to have no limits. He healed every disease that was brought to Him (including the dreaded leprosy). He made lame people walk. He strengthened shriveled hands. He even raised the dead!
This caused turmoil among all of the religious leaders – not just the Pharisees, but the Sadducees and the teachers of the law as well. It was commonly accepted that God would not listen to the prayers of sinners, let alone do mighty miracles through them like Jesus was doing (cf. John 9:31-33). How could they square their theology with the evidence that Jesus, whom they considered a sinner, could do miracles, while they, the holy and righteous ones, were impotent?
And they weren’t the only ones who noticed this discrepancy. As Jesus’ stock rose in the eyes of the people who increasingly sought Him out to meet their physical and spiritual needs, their own stock was tanking.
Since they were unwilling to abandon their worldview, accepting that this powerful teacher might have it right (which, of course, meant admitting that they had it wrong, and would have to abandon what they had devoted their lives to), they had to devise an alternate narrative. And the narrative that they came up with was that Jesus wasn’t just misguided, He was absolutely evil. And the power that He used to do His miracles wasn’t from God at all. It was demonic power.
This seemed like a winning tactic. After all, lesser demons, like the ones that infested people, would surely be subservient to the prince of demons, wouldn’t they? So if Jesus was possessed by the prince of demons, that would explain why the other demons obeyed Him.
But this wasn’t a good tactic, or even a smart interpretation of the evidence. It was a desperate move on their part to try to salvage their image and the prestige that they enjoyed among the people. And those self-interested motives were going to come back and bite them in the end.
Father, our worldview, especially when it is contaminated by self-interest and defense of our turf, can blind us to what is clearly right in front of us. Help me to see clearly at all times, and give me a heart that is responsive to Your truth, and willing to jettison anything in my life that keeps me from seeing it clearly. Amen.