Miracle 12:
Casting out of the Dumb and Blind Spirit

I. OBSERVATION

A. Passage Selected:  Luke 11:14-26 14 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. 15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.  16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 17 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. 18 If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. 19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. 20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. 21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 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. 23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 24 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. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 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 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.[1]

B. Progression Stated: Logical

1.              The effect of the miracle on the audience is the emphasis. The convincing nature of Jesus’ miracles forced the Pharisees to offer some explanation for them.

2.              They could not deny the existence of miracles when they were happening before their eyes. They resorted to the basest and most blasphemous explanation for the miracles of Jesus.

3.              They did not deny that they took place but claimed that they were done by the power of the Devil.

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context

a. In Matt 12:9-17 Jesus healed the man with the withered hand and the Pharisees were upset because He healed on the Sabbath. 

b. Then Matthew quotes from Isa 42:1 in which Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would minister to the Gentiles. 

c. Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

d. This prediction is related to the Pharisees reaction to the healing of the man on the Sabbath, but I think it is primarily setting us up for what follows – the miracle we are studying now.

e. This miracle is extremely important because it is the turning point in the ministry of Jesus. After this miracle He begins to focus more attention on the Gentiles.

2. Content

a. Revelation of the miracle  (14a)

1.       The demon was characterized by its effect on the man. 

2.       Luke mentions that the demon caused speech impairment.  If the Matthew account is the same one, we see he was also blind. 

3.       I think they are the same because the reaction of the religious leaders is the same in both miracles and Jesus’ words are very similar in the following comments.

b. Reaction to the miracle  (14b-16)
(1) Marveling

a.       Some were affected with this miracle. The people wondered; they admired the power of God, and especially that it should be exerted by the hand of one who made so small a figure, that one who did the work of the Messiah should have so little of that pomp of the Messiah which they expected.[2]

b.       According to both Luke and Matthew the crowds were amazed. People openly question whether or not this is the Messiah.

c.       Their questions force the religious leaders to decide or at least voice their already formed opinions.

d.       And the fact that the common people are close to accepting Jesus as their Messiah leaves the Jewish leaders with less of an excuse for their response to Jesus and much culpability for leading the common people to hell.

(2) Muttering

a.       Others were offended at it, and, to justify their infidelity, suggested that it was by virtue of a league with Beelzebub, the prince of the devils, that he did this[3]

b.       The Pharisees reaction is that Jesus gets his power from Beelzebul. 

c.       In Philistia Baal ze bul meant Lord of the flies. The Jews began to use this term as a derogatory name for Satan. 

d.       Note, Obstinate unbelief & infidelity will never be at a loss for something to say in its own excuse, though ever so frivolous and absurd. [4]

e.       So they are saying that Jesus is casting out demons by the power of Satan.

(3) Mandating

a.       Others ask for a sign from heaven.  How could they?  Jesus has shown his power and authority over every single sphere possible and this latest miracle was a miracle over the spiritual realm.

b.       Some, to corroborate this suggestion, and confront the evidence of Christ’s miraculous power, challenged him to give them a sign from heaven (v. 16), others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven to confirm his doctrine by some appearance in the clouds, such as was upon mount Sinai when the law was given;

c.       as if a sign from heaven, could not have been given them as well by a compact and collusion with the prince of the power of the air, who works with power and lying wonders, as the casting out of a devil;[5]

d.       The release of this devil possessed man seems to me to be as close a sign from heaven as possible. 

c. Response to the reaction of the miracle  (17-26)

(1)     Christ Response - Christ showed them the utter absurdity of their line of reasoning.[6] and the self-defeating logic of a divided demonic kingdom. 

(2)     If Satan is casting out Satan, then why are you worried? Satan is defeating himself.   Of course that is ridiculous.  Satan wouldn’t do that.

(3)     Jesus asks, "If I cast out demons by Satan’s power, how do you do it?"  The question is this: How do you know what power is evident for exorcisms?  There were Jewish exorcisms happening at that time. What was their standard of evaluation?

(4)     It was a hypocritical thing for them to accuse Christ of a compact with Satan which yet they applauded and admired in others that were of their own nation (v. 19): "By whom do your sons cast them out? Some of your own kindred, as Jews, nay, and some of your own followers, as Pharisees, have undertaken, in the name of the God of Israel, to cast out devils, and they were never charged with such a hellish combination as I am charged with.’’ Note, It is gross hypocrisy to condemn that in those who reprove us which yet we allow in those that flatter us.[7]

(5)     If Jesus is casting out Satan by the finger of God, then it indicates that the kingdom of God is at hand.

a.       In Matthew it is by the Spirit of God, here by the finger of God; the Spirit is the arm of the Lord, Isa. 53:1.

b.       His greatest and most mighty works were wrought by his Spirit; but, if the Spirit in this work is said to be the finger of the Lord, it perhaps may intimate how easily Christ did and could conquer Satan, even with the finger of God, the exerting of the divine power in a less and lower degree than in many other instances.

c.       He needed not make bare his everlasting arm; that roaring lion, when he pleases, is crushed, like a moth, with a touch of a finger. Perhaps here is an allusion to the acknowledgment of Pharaoh’s magicians, when they were run aground (Ex. 8:19):

d.       This is the finger of God. "Now if the kingdom of God be herein come to you, and you be found by your unrighteous and ungodly  life fighting against it, it will come upon you as a victorious force which you cannot stand before.’’[8]

e.       “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.[9]

f.        That is what the strong man illustration which follows is about.  Satan is the strong man, but Jesus is stronger and is taking Satan’s possessions (the demon possessed people) away from him.

g.      The “strong man armed” is Satan. The demon-possessed man was an evidence of his power. But, you see, Jesus is stronger than Satan, which was the reason He could cast out the demon.

h.       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.[10]

i.          This miracle was evidence that the kingdom has come in power.

j.         The unpardonable sin - There has been much discussion about what the unpardonable sin is.  Ryrie explains it this way and it sounds good to me.  He says that although people might misunderstand Jesus' ministry, there is no excuse for misunderstanding the Holy Spirit's ministry since His power and ministry were known from OT times.  Accusing Jesus of getting His power from Satan was not just a sin of the tongue.  It was a sin of the heart.  They were rejecting the Holy Spirit's work of conviction.[11]

k.         (vrs 24-28) After casting out a demon, Jesus wanted to stress the fact that 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. [12]

l.         More dangerous than open hostility (vv. 14–22) is attempted neutrality (vv. 23–26), for an empty life is an opportunity for Satan to move in and take over. [13]

3. Conclusion

a.         From here on out, the miracles are really repeats of earlier miracles, with just different contexts. 

b.         When he says in Luke 11:29 that no other sign would be given, that doesn’t mean no more miracles would take place.  It means that no new type of miracle would occur.

c.         There is one remaining sign that hasn’t been performed.  He has dealt with death, disease, the demonic, nature (fish), etc.  The only sign left is the sign of his own resurrection.

d.         Also, in the context of Matthew’s gospel, what follows this is Jesus begins speaking in parables. Matthew 13:10f says why.  He speaks in parables to obfuscate the message for those who don’t want to hear.  If you are hungry and listen, you can understand.  Otherwise, they just sound like nice stories.

e.         This is the turning point in the ministry of Jesus.  From this point on He is secretive in Jewish territory and very vocal in Gentile territory.

f.           Prior to this (Matt 10:5f) he had told his disciples not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans.

II. INTERPRETATION

1.              The official rejection of Jesus by Israel’s leaders is documented here when they charge Jesus with being in league with Satan.

2.              Jesus shows himself to be superior to both Solomon and Jonah.  If something greater than Solomon and Jonah is here, then what two aspects of greatness are demonstrated? 

3.              He is superior to the wisest king (he has just confounded them with the logic of His argument). 

4.              Jonah is a sign of judgment and power.  Therefore, it will be his own resurrection, which will qualify him to sit in judgment over this generation.

5.              Jesus believes that Jonah existed.  Jesus believes the men of Nineveh who repented were real people.  If you are a critical bible scholar and do away with Jonah, then you do away with Jesus.  Jesus is not credible because he believes in Jonah.  If you can trust Jesus, then Jonah, Noah, and creation are not a problem.

6.              The Kingdom of God has come.  Jesus was defeating Satan and taking his victims away from him.

III. APPLICATIONS

1.         We are either with Christ or against him. There is no neutral ground.

2.         Sometimes affliction is the result of demonic activity.

3.         If Christ can defeat Satan, I need to be aware of but not afraid of the forces of darkness.

4.         If you clean up your act, but don’t fill the vacancy with the right thing - Christ - then what you will replace it with will be worse than the first.

5.         There is blessing for those who hear the words of God and do them. vs. 28

6.         Demanding a sign from God is wicked.  It doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the signs God gives, but don’t demand it.  We might call this "the no fleecing principle."

7.         What does this miracle say about second chances?  Can you pass a point of no return where you are so committed to your own way that you would never turn to God no matter how long He was gracious enough to leave you on the earth?  I think the Pharisees passed that point right here in their reaction to this miracle. 

 



[1]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[2]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[3]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[4]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[5]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[6]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[7]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[8]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[9]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[10]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[11] Ryrie, The Miracles of our Lord, p. 67.

[12]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[13]Warren W. Wiersbe, With the word Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1991 by Warren W. Wiersbe.