Jesus and the Ruler
(Matthew 12.22-30; Mark 3.20-27)
14Jesus forced a demon out of a man who could not talk. And after the demon had gone out, the man started speaking, and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some people said, “He forces out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons!”
16 Others wanted to put Jesus to the test. So they asked him to show them a sign from God. 17Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said:
A kingdom where people fight each other will end up in ruin. And a family that fights will break up. 18If Satan fights against himself, how can his kingdom last? Yet you say that I force out demons by the power of Beelzebul. 19If I use his power to force out demons, whose power do your own followers use to force them out? They are the ones who will judge you. 20But if I use God's power to force out demons, it proves that God's kingdom has already come to you.
21When a strong man arms himself and guards his home, everything he owns is safe. 22But if a stronger man comes and defeats him, he will carry off the weapons in which the strong man trusted. Then he will divide with others what he has taken. 23 If you are not on my side, you are against me. If you don't gather in the crop with me, you scatter it.
Return of an Evil Spirit
24When an evil spirit leaves a person, it travels through the desert, looking for a place to rest. But when it doesn't find a place, it says, “I will go back to the home I left.” 25When it gets there and finds the place clean and fixed up, 26it goes off and finds seven other evil spirits even worse than itself. They all come and make their home there, and that person ends up in worse shape than before.
Being Really Blessed
27While Jesus was still talking, a woman in the crowd spoke up, “The woman who gave birth to you and nursed you is blessed!”
28Jesus replied, “That's true, but the people who are really blessed are the ones who hear and obey God's message!”
In battle, it is wise to choose effective weapons and excellent protection. As we present the gospel we need to fight for truth, but arm ourselves with compassion.
Jesus lived in such a way that his observers fell into several categories: those who believed, those who rejected, and those who had more questions. After providing a spiritual solution to a man’s physical problem, Jesus graciously engaged his opponents in discussion. Leading them through an exercise in logic, he asked them to come to the conclusion that he represented the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Concerned for both head and heart, he then reminded his listeners of the tragic outcome when someone sees the power of God in their life but does not fill their ‘house’ with the Spirit. Jesus confronts the old kingdom so that he can establish his new one.
As Christians in a skeptical world, each of us has a natural tendency towards either rational arguments or generous acceptance. Only by knowing that we are called to both can we respond in obedience and receive the gifts we do not have on our own.
In all that we say, we need to speak the truth of Christ. If we are silent, we are mastered by his enemy. But our words need to blend logic with love, and replace crumbling ideology with his indwelling presence. As we break down the barrier of lies by well-prepared truth, it is essential that our efforts are also inhabited by a greater Spirit, the Comforter promised by Christ.
When the voice of God breaks into the silence that has held us captive, only a life of holy love keeps us from being spiritually mute once again.
Almighty God, you have authority over the seen and unseen realms. Be present in the working of my mind, that I might express your truth faithfully. Fill my heart with love as evidence that your Spirit lives there. Cover me with Christ. Amen.