Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the [d]blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by [e]Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
Here Jesus enters into contest once again w/ His enemies.
We need to realize as we have noted before that the miracle here is significant. This miracle of Jesus as all miracles is communicating that the Kingdom of God is among them and that the long awaited Messiah is in their midst.
We know this due to the testimony of the OT and then Jesus interpretation of the OT.
In Isaiah 35:5-6 we read,
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”
In the previous chapter to the one we are looking at this morning we (Mt. 11) John the Baptist has just been imprisoned. In his perplexity, no doubt born of the incongruity of his being imprisoned combined with the Kingdom of God having arrived he sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he really is the Coming One. Jesus responds in this way:
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me”
Jesus is saying that the Kingdom of God has come and He is the Messiah-King ushering it in. The miracles of Jesus were the attestation of that truth. Jesus fulfills what the OT promised in terms of the Messiah-King and the coming of the Kingdom.
So… this miracle here in Mt. 12 is another scream from heaven that the King and Kingdom has come. The question “Could be this the Son of David,” being murmured among the crowd was a murmuring that connected Jesus to being the Messiah-King and the one who was bringing in the Kingdom.
Let us pause here to note something about the coming of the Kingdom.
*With the arrival of Christ, the Kingdom of God has come. This is the truth that is the cornerstone of Postmillennialism. Christ brought the Kingdom. Now that Kingdom has not yet been consummated but it has been inaugurated and so it is now present among us and the anticipation is that the intensity of the present Kingdom goes from break out to break out so that it is seen that we are getting closer and closer to the not yet but coming consummation of that already present Kingdom. The strong man has been bound. He has been and is being plundered of his goods. The yeast of victory is working itself through the whole cosmos. The Kingdom is present.
We must not make the error of the Amillennialist who admit there is a nowness to the Kingdom but who for all practical purposes live as if the Kingdom is now and always will be completely not yet since they have reduced the reality of the Kingdom to a “spiritual” reality. The Amillennialist has no swagger … no moxie since they don’t really believe on a practical everyday level that the Kingdom has come and is now in more than a spiritual manner.
The Postmillennialist on the other hand is confident in the presence of the Kingdom and he lives and walks in terms of the anticipation of the ever-expanding reality of the Kingdom. As such he carries himself with a humble swagger and he knows the moxie of being on the side that is victorious.
We need a return to this kind of Postmillennialism because the terminal expectations of pessimillennialism yields up the defeat that pessimillennialist’s eschatology expect.
Enter the Pharisees. Here we see them practicing what would become centuries later known as one of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” The Pharisees accuse Christ of doing what they are guilty of. They accuse the Lord Jesus of being in league with Beelzebub (Satan). They accuse our Master of being empowered by the Prince of Darkness.
Now, this is a serious accusation as we learn in the Markan account of this event.
“‘Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’—for they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’ ” – Mark 3:28–30
The Pharisees are in full personal soul damning mode. They were the ones who were trained, and so were to be experts in identifying the Messiah in their midst and yet when the Messiah arrives they turn on Him like a rabid dog and accuse Him of the most vile thing possible.
We learn from the context then that this unforgivable sin is the persistent, knowing, verbal attribution of the work of God to Satan. Such blasphemy is unforgivable not because the Lord is unwilling to forgive but because a person guilty of such sin has fully and finally hardened his heart against the grace of God. He does not want to be forgiven and will never ask for forgivness. Someone who is trained to identify the character of God and who in spite of knowing better identifies what he or she knows to be the case as the work of God as the work of Satan are anathema.
The Logos of God responds to them with basic logic.
6 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?
Several matters to note here;
1.) Satan has a Kingdom and it is that Kingdom that Christ’s Kingdom is opposed to and has defeated and is rolling back. As of late there has been some confusion regarding Kingdom talk. I don’t have time to get into it into detail here but allow me to say that Scripture teaches here that ultimately there are two Kingdoms. The Kingdom of Lucifer and the Kingdom of Christ’s which has rolled over Lucifer’s Kingdom. Don’t allow people to move you off that certainty by the multiplications of Kingdoms in which it is then argued that God’s Kingdom does not apply.
2.) Jesus argues the foolishness of the Pharisee’s position given that their position would undo Lucifer’s work.
3.) If you’re going to accuse me of being Satan’s agent how can you not accuse your own people of not being guilty of the same thing?
4.) Returning to a thought established earlier, Jesus says that this healing / casting-out miracle proves that the Kingdom of God was in their presence in the person of the Messiah-King
5.) Vs, 29 is important. Jesus is saying that via this Miracle people could know that He Himself had bound the strong man and was now plundering His goods. The Strong man who is bound here is Satan and the plundering of his goods is the release of the captives from their oppression via healing and exorcism and the proclamation of the good news of the Kingdom’s presence.
The long anticipated Kingdom has arrived and in Christ Satan is bound and plundered. You sitting here, released from your sin and misery are part of that plunder taken back from the dark Kingdom.
Finally Jesus rounds off w/
30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
Here it may be the case that our Master is talking over the heads of His enemies to the crowd present. Clearly His enemies are already against Jesus and so His words would not apply to them. However, if the last verse is for the sake of the gathered crowds then His words are communicating what we call today the Reformed Antithesis. Christ is telling the spectators that they cannot remain neutral to Christ and the Kingdom He has brought. The God-Man does not allow us to be undecided because to be undecided is to be decided. To not be with Him four square is to be against Him four-square. To not join in His cause by gathering is to be against His cause by scattering.
The Master is urging those on the fence not to be content with only not opposing him, but to take sides – for, in fact, they cannot help doing so. Indifference and fence setting in this case is only another name for opposition; not actively to help is really to hinder.
Jesus was a good presuppositionalist. No neutrality. Never.
There is no neutrality in the kingdom of God; that activity which we call “natural” is exercised either in good or in evil, especially in the case of those who hear the word of God. Our standing as Christians does not allow us the luxury to be anything but full bore committed to the cause of the Kingdom. They are unworthy to be considered as belonging to the flock of Christ, who do not apply to it all the means that are in their power; because their indolence tends to retard and ruin the kingdom of God, which all of us are called to advance.
No neutrality. Never.
Yet this passage has too often been applied individually, which of course it should be, but it has been left unspoken to in terms of its application to social order. We have need to dismiss the idea of neutrality towards Christ and His Kingdom not only in our personal individual lives but also in the order that we build as a Christian people. We cannot be neutral in our family lives for example. As parents we must shepherd our children before the face of God thus showing that we are gathering for the Kingdom in our family lives. But there is a flip side to this as well which is a hard truth and that flip side is if our children decide to rebel against God and to be scatterers and to be against God then we must show ourselves faithful to Christ and His Kingdom by being against our children for our children. If our children, God forbid, become perverse then if we are to be with Christ we must love our children enough to be against them and so not scatter. We must not approvingly post photos of our Lesbian daughters with their adopted children – something I’ve seen done. We must not, out of a misguided love for our children join them in their waywardness in hopes of somehow gaining them back by being against Christ.
This is just an example. The examples easily continue of how it is possible to be against Christ in our social order lives by adhering to an impossible neutrality. Recently, we have seen the Evangelical – Reformed Church seek to scatter where Christ gathers by becoming increasingly neutral (so they think) in matters of corporate morality. For example putative Conservative Baptist pastor Mark Dever last year sought to clear space for Christians to vote for candidates who supported abortion. Jonathan Leeman, who did under grad and graduate work in Pol. Sci at elite Universities and now is associated with conservative Baptist churches likewise has made very slick arguments for the same thing. My friends, to argue like this is to proclaim one’s self as against Christ and one who scatters where Christ seeks to gather. It is to try at one and the same time to have an individual Christian piety while surrendering a Christian piety in the social order.
How much good does it do us to cast out metaphorical demons in our personal individual lives while turning a deaf ear to how our social order is being possessed by demons or by arguing that we can let those demons be and not concern ourselves with them since Jesus is only a left-handed King in those areas?
It is serious error and a form of schizophrenia to be punctilious to the things of Christ in our personal and individual lives – to be for him – while at the same time scattering where Christ would gather in our social order. How can we be with Christ in our personal individual lives and yet not be with Him when it comes to promoting His cause when it comes to our civil-social Institutions?
I could spend a great deal of time of multiplying examples of what I’m getting at in terms of not being with Christ when it comes to our social order. Let’s take immigration as another example. Are we not scattering where Christ would gather when we support policies and people in our voting that assure the continued flooding of this country with people who hate Christ giving them equal rights that will be used to diminish even more the public-square influence of Christianity? That will assure that our own Christian children will be disinherited as the children of the in-rushing multitude will be the recipients of what otherwise would have been our children’s inheritance? How can we think we are not scattering where Christ would gather when we do such a thing?
Many years ago RJR often this tidbit down this line I’m pursuing;
“And the same illusion marks Europe. In Europe, they believe that because the country has a character, everyone who comes in will soon pick up that character. So, all the blacks and Arabs that are in France will become Frenchmen. That’s an illusion. They don’t have the same faith, therefore they’re not going to give the same character to society.”
And I would add, that those who pursue such policies are scattering where Christ would gather.
Let us take another point of application here. Jesus, is, as we noted earlier arguing against the idea of neutrality. Jesus in saying whoever is not with me is against and whoever does not gather scatters. Clearly when it comes to the Lord Christ and His Kingdom there is no place to be indifferent or marginal. Indifference and playing on the margins Christ says is full on commitment to his enemies.
Now, I’m no fan of the S. African Marxist Bishop Desmond Tutu but he was speaking the truth when he said,
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
Our enemies have no problem in rejecting neutrality or in trying to play even handed. Our enemies understand that in order to be victorious they have to cancel us. It has come to be known as cancel culture. Anybody who articulates truth that is related to Christian origins our enemies demonstrate that they are on the side of their Father the devil. In this the sons of this world are wiser than the sons of God. We should quit complaining about cancel culture and start practicing it from our side.
In Redemptive History God told His people to practice cancel culture. When God commanded the ultimate penalty for those caught by two or three witnesses involved in sexual perversity God was commanding that His people practice cancel culture.
Now understand something here. If we practice cancel culture because we are convinced that neutrality is an impossibility we are practicing out of love to God and our people. We seek to cancel those who advocate those practices which would dishonor God and hurt our people. Another example of cancel culture that Christians were wise in practicing was when many of them canceled their Netflix subscription when they finally got fed up with their varied expressions of being against Christ. When we pray imprecatorily here we are asking for God to engage in cancel culture.
My friends, we cannot love what is loved by God without hating that which is contrary to what God loves. If we love God then we must seek to practice cancel culture on what God hates. Epistemological self consciousness on the issue of “no neutrality is possible” pushes us to try and practice cancel culture.
We need cancel culture if we’re going to honor God, rescue our people, and be for the wicked by being against the wicked. We need cancel culture precisely because neutrality is not possible cancel culture to negate the cultural Marxists just as they seek to negate the forward progress of the Kingdom of God.
So…here we are pressed into battle. Both on an personal and individual basis but also as members of the social order we live in. We may not separate or divorce these two. There is no neutrality in advancing the Kingdom whether in our personal lives or in our lives as public persons.
As men and women blood bought and atoned for by Jesus Christ we are enlisted into His Kingdom advancement. Our greatest desire is to see God glorified by the entry of former enemies into the Kingdom of God and we pursue this by being for them in our opposition to them and Satan’s Kingdom.
We desire for them to know the goodness of being pardoned by God for the sake of the finished work of Christ. We desire them to come and sue for peace to a God who promises to receive all those who are weary and heavy laden. We look forward to them being enlisted into the same Kingdom work that we are involved in but that cannot happen unless we are first for them by being against them and their evil deeds.