Jesus Drives Out Another Mute Demon

Luke 11: 16-36

DIG: How does the crowd react to Messiah’s miracle? How does He show the foolishness of the claim that He drives out demons by Beelzebub? What does Yeshua’s ability to drive out demons say about the Kingdom? What is Jesus’ point in verses 24-26? What do you think Mary thought when she learned what Messiah had said? What was Christ saying about His mother? How did He redefine motherhood and family? According to Jesus, what is a woman’s true and highest calling? Why? Why does Yeshua condemn this particular generation? What is the sign of Jonah? Who is the Queen of the South? Who condemns whom? What is His point in the analogy of verse 34? What do the eyes and body represent? How is this spiritual truth perceived?

REFLECT: If you had to compare your life right now to a fortress, what is it like: The Rock of Gibraltar, slowly eroding, or crumbling? Are you spiritually on the attack or under siege? How is the battle going? How does what Christ said about His mother impact you? Are the greatest blessings offered for women by Jesus, single or married, still fully within reach? Why or why not? What sign would it take for your generation to turn to God? What is the problem with relying on “signs” to change people’s motivations? How would your spiritual sight score: 20/10? 20/20? 20/80? Colorblind? Why?

Jesus had already been rejected on the grounds of demon possession (see Ek – It is only by Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons that This Fellow Drives out Demons), but that was in Galilee, this is in Judea. Here Yeshua drives out another mute demon, which of course was one of the three messianic miracles (see my commentary on Isaiah Gl – The Three Messianic Miracles). The Pharisees, who by this time hounded Him continually, knew how to antagonize His work. Before the crowds asked: Could this be the Son of David (Matthew 12:23). But now the masses who followed Him, tested the Galilean Rabbi, asking for a sign.

The Charge: Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. The transition from the preceding account is abrupt. The imperfect tense of the verb, indicating continuous action, throws us immediately into the present story. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them, parroting what the Pharisees had said earlier (Matthew 12:24), mocked Him, saying, “By Beelzebub (Hebrew: Ba’al-Zibbul), the prince of demons, He is driving out demons” (Luke 11:14-15).

Messiah was attacked from two sides at the same time. From the one side He was attacked with brazen scorn saying His miracles were attributed to the deceiver, the prince of demons. Others, however,under the pretext of piety, tested Him by asking for a sign from heaven (Luke 11:16). However, there is never enough evidence for unbelief. They were beginning to accept the pharisaic explanation and mimic the members of the Sanhedrin (see Lg – The Great Sanhedrin).

The Defense: The Son of Righteousness refuted the false charge with three proofs. The first reason was that if He got His power from Satan and used that power against Satan, then Satan would be working against himself, and this would be inconceivable. Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub (Luke 11:17-18). But the Jewish religious leaders and a growing number of others were blinded by the god of this age (Second Cor 4:4). It was as if they were saying, “My mind is already made up . . . don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Secondly, Yeshua pointed out the double standard of those who were accusing Him. They themselves recognized that the gift of exorcism was from God. And if their followers drove out demons, they claimed it was done by the power of ADONAI. Therefore, they were inconsistent in their own theology. Since Christ cast out demons, it too must be by God’s finger, that is, by His power. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, or Satan, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (Luke 11:19-20). This miracle would authenticate His message.

Thirdly, if Messiah can enter Satan’s house, it is evident that He has greater power than the evil one, who would have sought to resist Him. When a strong man (Satan), fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger (Christ) attacks and overpowers him, He takes away the armor in which the strong man trusted and divides up his plunder. This shows that He is stronger than Satan, not subservient to him. Christ then called on the people to make a decision, stating: Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters (Luke 11:21-23). It was impossible to remain neutral in the battle between Christ and the great dragon. The people who were watching had to make up their minds. It was now evident which side His enemies were on. They started out by accusing Jesus of being in league with the prince of demons, but wound up by finding themselves revealed to the people as allies of Satan.1019

The Condition of the Nation: Here Messiah compares the nation to a person who once had an evil spirit. When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first (Luke 11:24-26).

By this story the Lord revealed His estimate of the nation. Isra’el was unclean and John the Baptist had carried on a ministry calling people to repentance (see Be – John the Baptist Prepares the Way). Multitudes had responded to the ministry of the Immerser, acknowledging their sin. These identified themselves with Yochanan by baptism, with the understanding that they would experience the forgiveness of sin when the Meshiach, whom they were anticipating, should come. Therefore, the nation was cleansed. But in the interval, the nation had turned from John’s message of repentance and was now in the process of rejecting Christ. This meant that the good John had done in the nation was being thrown away. And with this progressive rejection of Jesus there was an accompanying spiritual decline and regression. So when the nation finalized its decision to reject the Truth, the spiritual condition of the nation would be worse than it was before the Herald began his ministry. This was a serious accusation against the nation.1020

As Yeshua was saying these things, a woman in the crowd, deeply moved by His teachings, desired to publically honor Him by praising His mother. She called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you” (Luke 11:27). Such public tribute to Jesus’ mother was certainly fitting, for to produce such a wise and godly son was the crowning glory of a mother. This kind of remark would make any mother beam with pleasure. In a culture that measured a woman by the number of sons she bore, and especially in light of Messiah’s uncompromising teaching about honoring father and mother, you would expect the Nazarene to thunder a hearty, “Amen!” Instead, He dared to disagree.

He replied: Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it (Luke 11:28). The Son of Righteousness zeroed in on two sacred institutions for women – motherhood and family – and redefined them both. According to the Living Word, a woman’s life is truly blessed not when she becomes a mother, but when she hears and obeys the Word of God. The crowning glory for both men and women is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is our true identity and the only path to blessedness. To base our identity on anything else, children and family for women or career for men, is to build your house on sand. But nothing can ever take away our calling as disciples of the Meshiach.

Mary’s life wasn’t perfect. Gabriel’s message brought a sudden end to her hopes for a picture-perfect life when she was just barely starting out in life. Somewhere along the line Joseph died. The loss of a husband finishes off some women. Toward the end of her biblical story the cross loomed on the horizon. Miryam stood on the verge of the worst possible shame for a mother. When her son was crucified as a common criminal, no one cried out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” If Mary’s identity and meaning in life depended on motherhood and family, this would have destroyed her. But Jesus came to save His mother too. And so He jarred her enough to free her from her identity as His Blessed Mother and gave her an identity durable enough to outlast the cross.

Messiah did all that without taking anything away from motherhood. He emphatically taught the importance of honoring one’s mother. But he never limited women – His mother or any other woman – to the role of mother. Both the TaNaKh and New Covenant define women in terms broad enough to encompass every woman’s life, from start to finish. Women find their highest calling and deepest meaning in life when they hear the Word of God and obey it. From Miryam’s earliest days until the end of her life, she was called to be Yeshua’s disciple. Nothing could take that away from her.1021

The doctrine of “Mary, the Mother of God,” as we know it today is a result of centuries of growth, often stimulated by pronouncements of Roman cardinals. And yet the full-fledged system of Mariolatry is a comparatively recent development in Roman Catholic dogma. As late as the fourth century there are no indications of any special veneration of Mary. The phrase “Mother of God” originated in the Council of Ephesus, in 431, and was not proclaimed “Mother of the Church” until 1965 by Pope Paul VI. Today she is the object of all religious affections, and the source where all the blessings of salvation are sought and expected.

The Bible calls Mary Jesus’ mother (John 2:1), but gives her no other title. All the Roman Church has to substantiate for the worship of Mary is a bunch of traditions entirely outside the Bible telling of her appearances to certain monks, nuns, and other venerated as saints. At first glance the term “Mother of God” may seem comparatively harmless. But the actual result is that through its use Roman Catholics come to look upon Mary as stronger, more mature, and more powerful than Christ. To them she becomes the source of His being and overshadows Him. So they go to her – not to Him. “He came to us through Mary,” says Rome, “and we must go to Him through her.” Romanism magnifies the person the Holy Spirit, and minimizes the Person that the Holy Spirit wants magnified.1022

The Sign to the Nation: As the crowds increased, Jesus said to them: This is a wicked generation. The emphasis was on that particular generation. The common people are beginning to accept the pharisaic interpretation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation (Luke 11:29-30). Isra’el was to receive no more signs but the sign of Jonah, which was the sign of resurrection (see Jonah). This sign was to come to Isra’el three different times.

The first sign of Jonah was the resurrection of Lazarus (Ia), which was rejected when the Sanhedrin plotted to kill Jesus (Ib).

The second sign of Jonah was the resurrection of Christ (Mc), which was rejected when the Sanhedrin rejected the truth of the Gospel and stoned Stephen in Acts 7:1-60.

The third sign of Jonah will be the resurrection of the Two Witnesses (see my commentary on Revelation Dm – The Resurrection of the Two Witnesses), which will be accepted and all Isra’el will be saved (see my commentary on Revelation Ev – The Basis for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ).

The Queen of the South (First Kings 10:1-15), will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them (see Ep – The Queen of the South Will Rise at the Judgment with This Generation and Condemn It), for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom and profited by it. Now this generation had heard the wisdom of One greater than Solomon but turned from His word. Therefore, the men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here (Luke 11:31-32). A greater preacher than Jonah and a wiser sage than Solomon was here, making their condemnation even greater for rejecting Him.

A Call to the Nation: Jesus concludes His discourse and uses the light and the dark motif. To accept Him was to walk in the light; to reject Him was to walk in the darkness. Christ likened His word to light. The light that Yeshua brought was knowledge of the Father. What He revealed about Himself and the Father was not revealed in secret. No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. What Messiah taught and did to reveal the Father was done before the nation. But the nation was spiritually blind and rejected the light (Luke 11:33).

The reason for the rejection was not the light, but rather in the eye of the beholder. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, the Greek here implies generous, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, the Greek here implies stingy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you (Luke 11:34-36). The reason Isra’el remained in darkness was not the fault of the Revealer, but the fault of the nation that refused the revelation. Jesus promised that if they would receive the revelation, they would have light. He invited them to Himself as the Light.1023

 

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