Jesus and Beelzebub
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can 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. 28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”
30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”
Us Against Them
We know from earlier passages that the Pharisees are now on a mission to find fault with Jesus, a fault great enough to execute him for. They know he is a miracle worker, having healed people right in front of their face, so they try to use this against him, accusing him of sorcery and witchcraft, that it was by Satan’s power that he did all these great miracles.
Jesus uses this moment to reveal an important and uncomfortable spiritual truth – that there are only two sides to spiritual life: God’s and Satan’s. He uses three different and difficult images to paint this stark picture – first, the “kingdom divided against himself”, that Satan cannot drive out demons by his own power. Secondly, he talks about the strong man being bound, making reference to the fact that he, Jesus, has entered into Satan’s realm to bind Satan and his power. And lastly, and most unsettlingly, he reveals that there are sins that are unforgiveable – namely, rejection of the Holy Spirit. We see then a conflict between two sides, with no middle ground.
We’d like to think that there is wide spectrum of how we stand before the Lord, and that there are many neutral stances and actions in our lives that have no spiritual consequence. We try to strike balances between the world and God, between who we were and who we want to be, one foot in two different boats. But Jesus lifts the veil and reveals the truth, that there is no middle ground in spiritual life – it is an “either/or”, “with me or against me” situation, Satan OR Jesus. For our lives, this reminds us of a few practical truths – first, that there is a real spiritual battle going on. Yes, Jesus has come and bound the strong man (Satan), especially through his death and resurrection, but that strong man is trying to take as many down with him as possible. We need to realize that there is an enemy at work in our lives, but more importantly, that we serve a Savior far stronger than our enemy.
Also, it reminds us of an uncomfortable and absolute truth: that those who do not know Jesus Christ are not saved. There are no other options.
1. In what ways have seemingly “neutral” actions and positions in your life had a negative effect on your spiritual welfare?
2. Given the urgency that Jesus presents here, who in your life really needs to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?
3. in what ways is this passage a wake-up call for your life?
4. In what ways have you been trying to live both in the world and with God?