Matthew 12:25-29 (NIV) Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.”
Jesus countered the attack of the Pharisees from three different logical perspectives:
- No one who wants to conquer (and satan definitely does) will waste time and energy attacking his own forces. Not only does it waste time and energy, it cedes back territory already taken. So for satan to cast out his own demons would cause the collapse of his own kingdom.
- The disciples of the Pharisees claimed to be able to drive out demons. If only the prince of demons can overpower demons, were the Pharisees’ disciples also possessed by Beelzebub?
- Satan is a strong and fierce enemy, and his forces can only be defeated by overpowering him first.
Jesus then drew everything together in a logical conclusion: since satan won’t fight against his own forces, and since the Pharisees wouldn’t dare to claim that their own disciples used satan’s power to cast out demons, Jesus’ power to cast them out must be coming from God. But He takes His argument one step further: if He was casting out demons by God’s power, that was concrete proof that God’s kingdom was breaking into the world then and there.
From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus’ message centered on the arrival of the kingdom of God. It was the centerpiece of His teaching, and the theme of the vast majority of His parables. And His miracles were concrete signs of the truth of its presence in Him. When He sent out His followers, He gave them His own authority to confront satan on his own turf, to cast out evil spirits, and to heal every disease (Matthew 10:1). And the message that they were to deliver was, “The kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 10:7) The miracles they did and the authority they demonstrated over demons was the sign that their words were true.
Jesus’ miracles and authority were undeniable proof of the reality of God’s kingdom among His people. But the religious authorities did deny it, because such authority and power in Jesus highlighted the lack of spiritual authority in their own lives, and they would not tolerate that.
Father, the evidence was there for all who had eyes to see. And even today You are still at work, transforming lives, healing bodies, doing miracles, and even casting out demons. But only those willing to believe that You still do those things are able to participate in this miraculous work today. And where You act to repair the brokenness in our world, it is still a clear sign of the reality and presence of Your kingdom. Help all of us, Your people, to show forth that reality in our own lives today. Amen.