Then they brought to Him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and He cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.” He knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come to you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong men? Then indeed the house can be plundered. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Matthew 12:22-30, NRSV)
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Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus humbly “take” the accusations and lies that were thrown at Him. With every heavy blow, He hardly ever justified Himself.
Until this passage, that is.
For one of the first times, we see Jesus defending a miraculous work of His hands. Unlike our worldly defenses, however, this was not to justify Himself, to overcome an inner insecurity, or to clear “His” name. Instead, Jesus speaks up to make known what is God’s and what is not.
His purpose is to boldly distinguish between His Father’s Kingdom and the kingdom of Satan. This miracle, when teamed with the dialogue afterwards, teaches us how to communicate and “defend” the Gospel.
Rationally. Personally. And powerfully.
But first, when is it justified to defend? From Jesus’ example, it is when what is God’s is being mistaken for the world’s. Or, when what is the enemy’s is mistaken for God’s.
Some examples come to mind.
The gospel needs to be defended when a believer and friend is believing Satan’s lies over God’s truth. Defenses are needed when the enemy is believed to be more powerful by someone close to you than God Himself. And defenses are needed when the work of God is being overlooked by a worried, fearful, hurting, or doubtful heart.
And we defend in a similar way to Jesus. Rationally. Personally. And powerfully.
What Jesus does first to settle these questioning doubts is to bring in practical thinking. If this was the work of Satan, then Satan would be hurting himself - which is certainly not the case.
And in the same way, we speak humbly, yet authoritatively into the lives of those around us: “It is not in God’s character to...” “Satan would never place that thought in your mind - it would go directly against his plans...” or, “Our God would never say that of you.”
In each occurrence, we bring rational thinking into the scene of a believed lie.
But this is not the only tool that Jesus used. To His very Jewish audience, He also gets quite personal.
He knows their laws. He knows their practices. He knows their belief system. And so He uses these to bring clarity on the situation.
If their Rabbi’s followed the same God as He - the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - and exorcised demons in God’s name, why would He be any different?
The issue was not that Jesus was working with the devil, it was that the Pharisees did not like Jesus working period. They did not like His continual miracles. And in this very personal statement, their motives where made known.
You see, when it comes to you and I, a personal defense takes truly knowing the other person.
It can look like reminding a friend of how God has worked in their past, revealing to them the truth based on their personal story, beliefs, or practices, or bringing to light a flawed belief that is incongruent with one they foundationally have.
And ultimately, any defense that we make for the gospel must always come back to the power of our God. For it is not us that we proclaim, but Christ, and Christ crucified.
Jesus illustrates this by a story involving a “strong man,” his “house,” and all of the goods inside.
As He states, someone cannot enter the house of strong man unless they overpower him. Only then can the goods within be spread throughout the land.
And similarly, Satan, the “strong man” owning this “house” (the poor, blind and mute man), can only be overpowered by someone of greater power - Jesus.
In this miracle, Jesus overcomes the blinding and mouth-shutting power of the enemy. In a quick instance, he was tied up and the house was plundered for the good of the Kingdom.
When defending the gospel, our purpose should always be to end with God’s strength. Like Jesus states, He is the only one who can tie up the “strong,” bring victory into a guarded heart, and take for His Kingdom all of the goods within.
We can defend, but God is the one who brings the change. And in our gentleness, we wait for this.
You know that God is a part of something, because continual victory is seen. Beyond the rational words and personal touch, God’s power is unmistakable.
Where He and His Kingdom go, lives are changed, fears are demolished, chains are broken, lies are silenced, and victory is won.
Today, as you go about you day, be slow to defend. But when you must, remind yourself of how Jesus did. Etched within it all was the undying love that He had for all people.
May this be the same for us. Feel free to use the image below and share on Instagram!
Greg, Declare Glory