Harmony of the Gospels

Judea
(11) Accused of Connection with Beelzebub
Luke 11:14-36


This incident is also recorded in Matthew 12:24-30 and Mark 3:22-30. From this account has come the notion of the so-called unpardonable sin.

(Luke 11:14-15) And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.

We are told here that a demonic was brought to Jesus, who cured him instantly and completely, so that the man, who had been terribly afflicted, was now no longer demon-possessed. Also, he was able to talk. It is not surprising that the crowd that witnessed this miracle was astonished.

The convincing nature of Jesus’ miracles forced the Pharisees to come up with some explanation for them. They could not deny the existence of miracles when they were happening before their eyes. They resorted to the vilest and most blasphemous explanation for the miracles of Jesus. They did not deny that they took place but claimed that they were done by the power of the Beelzebub. Beelzebub is the name given to the prince of demons, Satan. The name probably originated from “Baalzebub” (lit. “lord of the flies” or “lord of dung”). Over in Matthew, it says that this poor man had lost not only the ability to speak but also to see. Luke does not say who it was that attacked Jesus, but Matthew calls them Pharisees and Mark mentions scribes. It is believed that the enemies of Jesus were sent by the Sanhedrin, when it became clear to them that Jesus was able to expel demons and do many other works of power. Where did He get this power? They had no explanation to offer, therefore they resorted to ridicule and said that His power came from the Devil

(Luke 11:16-19) And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.

These so-called religious men said, “Not God, but the Devil has given Jesus power to cast out demons.” Marks account adds even a second charge, namely, “He has Beelzebub,” That is, “He is possessed by Beelzebub, Satan.” This wicked accusation was equivalent to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Jn 12:10). Jesus performed His ministry through the power of the Holy Spirit, and this should have been evident to all who were unbiased. Jesus used a piece of logic, however, to clear up the situation, noting that if Satan cast out his own demons, then he would be divided against himself, an unimaginable state of affairs.

They demanded another miracle by Jesus, as if the double miracle would be sufficient evidence to answer some of the people who asked, “Could this be the Son of David?” (Matt. 12:23). Jesus knew what the true motives of these men were because He is God, and He knows all about us. What did they want Jesus to do? They wanted Him to cause fire to come down from heaven. They refused to accept that God’s great Sign was standing in their very midst, so they asked for a sign. In fact, they were always looking for signs (1 Cor. 1:22)…and wondering how to destroy the sign by God sent down from heaven to earth. Jesus’ answer to their demand is found in verses 29-32.

(Luke 11:20) But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

The very fact that the envoys of Satan, God’s archenemy, are being expelled proves that it is by God’s finger; that they are being driven out by the power of God. It proves that God’s kingdom has reached them and is revealing itself in works of power and mercy.

“The kingdom of God is come upon you” means that it was among them in the presence of the person of Jesus who had the credentials of the King.

(John 11:21-23) When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.

The “strong man armed” is Satan. The demon-possessed man was evidence of his power. But, you see, Jesus is stronger than Satan, which is the reason He could cast out the demon. After the strong man conquers He distributes the goods which were formally Satan’s; the spoils. The spoils become gifts to men. A good illustration is found in Luke 8:38-39. That passage is about a man who had been demon-possessed. It reads as follows: “Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.” That man previously numbered among Satan’s “goods,” became one of the gifts distributed by Christ.

“A strong man armed keepeth his palace” is a verse that has a message for us. There are those who want to disarm us—disarm us as a nation, and disarm us in our homes. But, “A strong man armed keepeth his palace.” There are wicked men abroad. And Satan is abroad. As long as there is a strong enemy, we do well to be armed.

Jesus taught in this passage that He had already defeated Satan and taken possession of all his armor, weapons, and possessions. Although Satan has a strong grip on people, that grip is decisively broken when that person enters God’s kingdom.

(John 11:24-26) When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

This parable pictures the precarious position of Israel and the Pharisees, and by the way it could also be applied to any lost person today. The parable speaks of a man with an unclean spirit. The demon leaves the man, and the man feels like he is clean—empty, swept, and garnished. Reformation is no good. If everyone in the world quit sinning right now, there would not be any more Christians. To stop sinning does not make a Christian. A reformed life is not what is needed. Regeneration is what is needed. Israel had swept her house clean through the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, but she would not invite the Lord Jesus Christ to occupy it. So the wicked generation of Jews would reach an even worse state, as Jesus described in the parable.

This parable also has an application to the individual. Jesus wanted to stress the fact that after a demon is removed, a man’s life must then be filled with good things, namely Christ and His salvation, or the man would be even more susceptible to the same calamity recurring than he was the first time—the demon will possess the man again. This time, however, the man’s later condition will be worse than the former. In other words evil must be replaced with good. No one can live in a moral vacuum. Neutrality is impossible. To refuse to choose Christ is to choose Satan.

(John 11:27-28) And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

A woman in the crowd shouted out that Jesus’ mother was blessed indeed by God. Jesus replied that even more blessed are those who heard His teachings and responded in faithful obedience.

(John 11:29-32) And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

What the people wanted for a “sign” was something thrilling, exciting, sensational, a sign from heaven. An example would be for Him to cause the sun to stop shinning for a moment or to cause some constellations to change locations in the sky. They had already observed several miracles and did not believe, so their request was wicked, for in addition to being insulting and impudent it was also hypocritical, for they were sure that what they asked Jesus to do, He could not do. Jesus refused to give them the sign they wanted, and instead He will give them His own sign. The point He made was that Jonah was swallowed up by a sea-monster, and He will be swallowed up by the earth; and as Jonah was delivered from his imprisonment, Jesus will be delivered from death and arise from the grave. Rescued Jonah and resurrected Jesus are signs. For the Ninevites the sign was clearly the miraculous reappearance of the man thought to be dead. He had been cast into the sea during a raging storm and swallowed by a great sea-monster, yet here he was, alive and well! For Christ’s contemporaries the sign was going to be His glorious resurrection.

Jesus continually claimed to be God (Jn 5:17–18; 10:33), the Messiah (Jn 4:25–26), and the only way to heaven (Jn 14:6). Here He says that failure to heed His direct plain message, supported by signs and wonders, will result in condemnation. Even the Queen of Sheba and those who repented at Jonah’s preaching in Nineveh had enough light to know what to do. How much more worthy of blame will these be if they fail to trust Christ! Note that Jesus fully endorsed the authenticity of the biblical account of Jonah in these verses. Critics who deny the biblical account of Jonah degrade Christ as well.

(Luke 11:33-36) No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

Our Lord gives a simple explanation on the purpose of a candle. It is a light giver; its purpose is to transmit light. The resurrection of Christ is the light that this world needs. The resurrection of Christ is the only ray of light in this world. You and I are in the world bounded by birth and death—we are boxed in by these two events. The resurrection of Christ is that which brings hope from the outside. But the question is “What will men do with the light?”

To see an object two things are essential: light to make the object visible, and eyes to behold the object. A light is of no use to the blind. A man who can see but has no light and a blind man with a light are in the same predicament.

Even in the presence of Christ, men were obviously not seeing Him; they were stumbling over him. That did not mean that He was not the Light of the World; it meant that men were blind.

 

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