Jesus and Beelzebub

We’re returning to our regular schedule now going through the gospel of Matthew and looking for Trinitarian references. Tonight, we’re in chapter 12. 

22Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

 25Jesus 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. 26If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

 29“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.

 30“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

A parallel is in Luke 11:

 14Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15But some of them said, “By Beelzebub,[g] the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. 17Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. 19Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

The challenge from the Pharisees is that Jesus can drive out the demons because he’s in league with them. Jesus’s reply though shows that that couldn’t be the case.  If Satan fights against himself, then there’s no wayhis kingdom can stand. 

Also, if Jesus drives them out, then by what power do the Pharisees drive them out? Jesus claims though to do it by the Spirit of God indicating that the Kingdom has come. Luke has an interesting term here. He says “The finger of God.” Readers should remember that the finger of God was what the magicians attributed the plague of insects to in Exodus 8:19. It was the creating of life from non-life,  something that is only God’s prerogative. Luke is saying that same force is at work in Jesus.

Matthew’s emphasis is the Kingdom and what we see in Matthew is a foretaste of what that kingdom will be. Jesus heals the sick for there will be no sick there. Jesus casts out demons because Satan will have no presence there. This is a high view of Jesus for he believes that this kingdom has come in his own person. 

Let’s also notice something. Jesus says blasphemy against him will be forgiven, but not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This should strike our modalist friends. If these two were the same person, then it would seem the penalty would be the same. 

Now let’s also comfort some troubled Christians.

Some of you might be troubled, as I once was, that you have committed this sin. I’d like to point out some things.

First off, Jesus did not say this sin had been committed, though I think it was awfully close!

Second off, I think this was a unique situation as this was dealing with the incarnate Son of God and thus, I think this sin is that which is done in the face of extraextraordinary evidence.

Third, this sin is not a one-time deal. This is a lifetime sin and it is a lifetime of rebelling against God and what has been revealed. The reason it is unforgivable is that you do not believe in the one who is able to forgive you. 

Rest assured, if you fear you’ve committed this sin, you haven’t. The concern that you might have shows your deep love for God and no one who has a deep love for God could be guilty of an unforgivable sin.

Tomorrow, we shall continue through Matthew’s gospel.

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