Matthew 12:22-50 (AD 28)
In v.27 Jesus says, “…if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out?”. There may to have been some successful instances of exorcism by Jewish people – i.e. it wasn’t just Jesus and his disciples. The difference with a mere human doing the exorcising is that it wasn’t always effective, because it wasn’t ultimately authoritative. An example is in Acts 19:13 where the demons turned round and basically said, ‘Who are you to be telling us anything?’.
Jesus’ point was that if the Pharisees were comfortable with some people doing that, why were they uncomfortable with HIM doing it? The answer, of course, is because it was HIM. Look at verse 22, where there was no reaction to the initial healing of a blind and mute man, but a vicious personal accusation is made against Jesus as soon as people started wondering aloud whether he was the Messiah.
The Pharisees didn’t mind Jesus being a LITTLE bit popular, and doing some miraculous things as long as not too many people noticed. But then he looked like becoming VERY popular and people were starting to think maybe he wasn’t merely an amazing guy but something more than that. Then the religious leaders opposed him, unthinkingly, without any honest thought to the possibility that he was who his miracles and behaviour suggested he might be.
As before, Jesus was forcing people to make a conscious decision about who he was, not allowing them to be comfortable in their curiosity or fence-sitting. Was he from Satan, which made no sense as that’s saying he’s attacking himself by driving out demons. Or was he from God? It had to be one or the other. Ultimately, the Pharisees decided to think that he was from Satan, and killed him for it.
That came to a crescendo in these words: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (v.30). Jesus is not a political party or a philosophy where you can take bits and repudiate others. Neither is he an earthly pal who’s nice to hang out with at times but you’re content to avoid for weeks at a time. He’s the creator of the universe who commands that we worship him, and offers to freely give the forgiveness that he does not owe.
If you haven’t made up your mind about who you think Jesus is, then you have made up your mind for the moment that he is not God. That leaves you separated from God, still. Away from peace, away from forgiveness, away from the only one stronger than Satan.