Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday, August 21st

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Galatians 5; Psalm 146; Job 23-24
Today's scripture focus is Luke 11:14-23

Luke 11:14-23

English Standard Version (ESV)

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 bythe 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 andovercomes 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.

Accompanying John MacArthur sermons: The Vilification of Jesus Part 1 and Part 2
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus vs Satan

There are only two kingdoms - the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness.
There are only two options - you are either for Jesus or against Jesus.  Being undecided or apathetic is also being against Jesus.

There's no middle ground here.

The people knew that what Jesus was doing was supernatural.  No one tried to deny the miracles, they were much too obvious and widespread to even attempt doing that.  But what they had to do was figure out where Jesus' source of power came from.  They were correct in that it had to come either from Satan or from God.  But they picked the wrong one.

And truly they blasphemed God.  Can there be anything worse than to call Jesus Satan?!  When you really think about it, it's amazing that He didn't just call down fire and brimstone right then and obliterate them all.  But He didn't.  He extended mercy and grace and He exposed their false thinking and gave them opportunity to change their minds, to reevaluate and come up with the right answer this time.

Now, these were simply their thoughts, but Jesus knew their thoughts.  So, He starts off with something easy that everyone would agree with simply because it was so obvious.  He said...
Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.
At that point they were probably nodding their heads along with Him.  Of course a divided kingdom falls.  You can't have your soldiers purposefully shooting fellow soldiers - that's a surefire way to end a war badly.

And then He points out that that's exactly what they were accusing Him of - driving out demons in the power of Satan.  It's ridiculous.  It doesn't make any sense.  Satan doesn't wage full scale war on himself.

And what about their fellow Jewish exorcists?  They were pretty ineffective, but the rabbis said they were doing it under God's power.  (See Acts 19 for an example of these exorcists and their lack of supernatural authority).  How can they say their own people perform exorcisms under God's power and at the same time claim Jesus was exercising true power over demons under Satan's power.  It doesn't add up.  It's not consistent.

Not only that, but Jesus gave them an example of a strong man only being able to be defeated by a stronger man.  Yes, Satan is strong.  But God is stronger.  If Jesus is casting out demons He is stronger than they are.  The only power stronger than demonic power is the power of God.  Therefore Jesus' power must come from God.

On every point Jesus shows them how inaccurate and how ridiculous their conclusion was.

Their theology was right in one sense - the power had to be from either Satan or God.  There's no third option.  And if they refused to acknowledge Jesus' power as coming from God, there was only one option left.  They refused to admit that what they were seeing was the finger of God.

That phrase is used in Exodus 8, where Pharoah's magicians acknowledge that the power displayed through Moses was the finger of God.  They saw it, but Pharaoh refused.  He hardened his heart.

Just like the people in Luke 11.

When you harden your heart towards God, you cannot see the truth, no matter how plain it is. What a dangerous, dangerous place to be.

It's always so helpful to see how our Lord with such simple words grasps such profound realities and makes them unmistakably clear to us. And my admonition to you is to take a look at where you are and be sure that you understand the incomparable Christ who was moving with the finger of God and therefore is the King who brought His Kingdom. No one is to be compared to Him. And you only have two options. You either affirm that He is who He says He is, or you cannot say anything other than that He is the ultimate blasphemer because He claimed to be God and He is not. So you are either with Him or you're left against Him. And He offers to you the same invitation. Wherever your thinking is, think it through again. Understand the irrationality of rejecting Christ. Understand the inconsistency of rejecting Christ against all the evidence, comparing Him to any other religious leader. Understand the lack of spirituality, the spiritual deadness and blindness of rejecting Christ. These Jews couldn't see what was obvious, it was the finger of God because the stronger man had plundered the palace.....

Jesus brings it to its culmination in verse 23, "He who is not with Me is against Me and he who does not gather with Me scatters." And you are faced with the fact that you are in one or the other of those two groups and there is no third option. 

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 11:24-28
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Galatians 6, Psalm 147, Job 25-26

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