Summary: Christ called people to decision. You cannot remain neutral about Him.
Of all people admired in the world today, Jesus of Nazareth ranks at the top of the list. Even many who aren't believers regard Him as one of the wisest teachers and most loving leaders the world has known.
So why did His contemporaries kill him? What was it about what He said or did that was so provoking and upsetting that religious and secular leaders alike wanted him dead? What was it that could make crowds that once followed Him turn on Him? If Jesus was simply the gentle genius some portray him to be, how could this have happened?
There’s only one explanation: Jesus was much more than meek and mild. He was more than a poetic philosopher. Jesus was the Light of Heaven hitting a darkened earth like a meteor blast. He made claims and demands that left people undone. He named realities that others sought to bury. He broke barriers no one else had the nerve to assault. He called for the utter dismantling of the way things were and the new creation of something much better. Jesus wasn't politically correct. He wasn't religiously pious. He wasn't socially tame. He was a dangerous man because he was, and is, the God who is dangerously good.
In our passage for today we see the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day intensify to the point of their complete rejection of Him, and His warning to them of what that would mean.
1. A miracle and an accusation - vs. 22-24
A. The miracle - vs. 22-23
Jesus healed a man who was blind and mute because of a demon. The people who saw this were amazed, wondering if this could be the “Son of David.” They saw the deliverance and healing of this man as proof that Jesus was the Messiah. The indication is that some there believed on Jesus and acknowledged Him as the Messiah as a result.
B. The accusation - v. 24
In contrast with those who believed on Christ, the Pharisees rejected Him, saying that He cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub, which means “lord of the flies,” and is a reference to Satan. They were trying to turn the people against Jesus by claiming His miracles were empowered by Satan.
2. An answer and a declaration - vs. 25-29
A. The answer - vs. 25-27
Jesus gave a common sense answer. Any kingdom, city, or household divided against itself will fall. This would be true of Satan’s kingdom: for the prince of demons to cast out his own demons didn't make sense. So, if Jesus cast out demons, He could not be working for Satan. Jesus further insisted that if His work was empowered by Satan, then Satan must also be empowering their efforts to deliver the demon possessed.
B. The declaration - vs. 26-27
Jesus said the work He did was by the Holy Spirit. In Luke 11:20, we are told Jesus also said He cast out demons by “the finger of God,” referring to Exodus 8:19. The Pharaoh's magicians could copy some of what Moses did to a point, but when God performed a miracle through Moses they couldn't, they called it "the finger of God." Jesus said the way He cast out demons was superior to how the Pharisees did. How?
1) Demons left at Christ's command. Jesus didn't rely on ceremony or ritual. He simply spoke the command and demons left.
2) Demons left and stayed gone. In Matthew 12:43-45,
Jesus spoke of how demons would return to a previous home, when they found it unoccupied. But when He cast out demons, they stayed out because Christ was now master of the house. He is the stronger man who binds the strong man and takes over the house (v. 29).
3. A call and a warning - vs. 30-32
In light of the clear revelation given by God, Christ issued a call.
A. The call - v. 30 The call issued by Christ is two-fold:
1) It is a call to a personal relationship - v. 30a
Jesus calls us to be "with Him." To commit to a personal, relationship with the God of the universe, who had revealed Himself through Christ.
2) It is a call to a purposeful relationship - v. 30b
Jesus calls us to "gather" with Him. To join Him in drawing others to a personal love relationship with God through faith in Him.
B. The warning - vs. 31-32
One might reject the Son, but later, if their heart was still sensitive to the call of the Spirit, and they considered it further and repented, they could be forgiven. However, the Spirit makes us aware of God's revelation; brings about conviction; and leads us to conversion.
The Pharisee's rejection of God's revelation of Himself through Christ, brought them to a point of no return. They crossed a line. Their hearts were so hardened against the work of the Spirit, they were beyond conversion. One can't afford to presume upon the grace of God. If you reject Christ today, there's no guarantee your heart will be responsive enough to accept Him tomorrow.