Matthew 9:27-34 (AD 28)
If the Pharisees were on Twitter and tweeted, “It is by the prince of demons that [Jesus] drives out demons” (as per verse thirty-four), I think their tweet would have gone viral…and not in a good way. They would have received a stream of mockery, facepalming and eye-rolling gifs. Their statement was that dumb, although it didn’t stop them doubling-down on their accusation.
This incident was after the one Matthew recounted in chapter twelve where they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons” (Matthew 12:24). They hadn’t learned from that episode when Jesus gave the obvious but inescapable rebuttals, “If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out?” (Matthew 12:26-27).
A theme was developing…
Jesus healed people and they had a problem over the day of the week he did it.
Jesus raised people from the dead and they had a problem with people following Jesus because of it.
Jesus was kind to Samaritans and their ugly xenophobia reared it’s head.
Jesus drove out demons and they claimed he was a demon.
Jesus took the message and work of God to the poorest and most neglected of society and they accused him of falling into immorality by mixing with the wicked.
There was literally nothing Jesus could do that was kind, generous, merciful or demonstrably of God that they wouldn’t turn on its head and claim was Satanic in some way.
Their objections were intellectually redundant, self-defeating, unkind, wilfully blind, rebellious, stupid, transparently ridiculous and the product of an obvious and despicable desire to retain control over people’s lives through a God-hating, controlling fear.
AND it made total sense to them and many people believed them.
They had decided what kind of man the Messiah should be, and what his relationship to them would be like, and Jesus didn’t fit, so they weren’t having it. Jesus, meanwhile, was continually forcing them to confront their prejudice and provoking them to make a choice between evil and the truth. And Jesus did it in a way that the people could see how despicable their leaders were.
Have you decided what kind of man the Messiah should be, and what his relationship to you ought to be like? H
Does the real Jesus fit what you’re looking for?