Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, You have sent Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh, that He might overcome the devil, and defend us poor sinners against the adversary: We give thanks to You for Your merciful help, and we beseech You to attend us with Your grace in all temptations, to preserve us from carnal security, and by Your Holy Spirit to keep us in Your Word in Your fear, that we may be delivered from the enemy, and obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled.
15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
16 Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven.
17 But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.
18 “If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub.
19 “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
20 “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.
21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.
22 “But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.
23 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says,`I will return to my house from which I came.’
25 “And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order.
26 “Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”
28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
The Kingdom of God Has Come Upon You
Dear fellow redeemed,
Pharaoh despised God and His servant, Moses. Moses came to Pharaoh under the authority of God with the command of God to let the Israelites go free. Pharaoh denied Moses, rejecting Moses’ claim that God visited him. God gave Moses some signs to show that he comes with God’s authority. Moses tossed his staff on the ground, and it turned into a snake. But in order to discredit Moses, Pharaoh had His magicians perform the same sign, and they did. Now whether Pharaoh’s magicians simply performed tricks and sleight of hand or whether they actually performed these wonders though under the power of Satan, the fact is that they were attempting to discredit Moses’ authority.
The next two signs Moses performed, the changing of water to blood, and the plague of frogs, the magicians were able to reproduce.
But then when it came to the next sign, the plague of lice which Moses and Aaron brought forth, the magicians were not able to reproduce it. It was beyond what they were able to do. And so they couldn’t discredit Moses’ and his claim of being sent by God’s authority. They could only conclude these words, “This is the finger of God.”
But this did not cause Pharaoh to repent, to listen to Moses and believe in the God who sent him. Rather, Pharaoh’s heart hardened even more against God.
So, also another servant comes from God, this time not simply a man like Moses, but the God-man, the Son of God made flesh. And He performed signs to show that He is sent by the Father. He shows His power over the devil and the demons, by casting them out, such as this mute demon in our text. But do the people believe that He is sent by the Father? Do they trust in Him as the Son of God and hear the Word He preaches? Like Pharaoh, no. Yes some in amazement at His power. But then there are some that want a sign from heaven as proof of His divinity, showing that no amount of proofs will be sufficient to satisfy their reason.
And then others, primarily the Pharisees, were like Pharaoh, harden their hearts, dig their heels in against Christ, and claim that He is casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons, Beelzebub, or Satan.
This claim is ridiculous on a spiritual level, the spiritually dead at enmity with the Christ, but it is a ridiculous claim on a rational level. He makes arguments that even their fallen reason should be able to understand and make them blush about the foolishness of their claims. And to do this, He makes 3 statements, all beginning with “if”, or we might call them “if then” statements. If this is true, then this is true. If it rains, then it is true that the fields get wet.
So Jesus says, “If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” Implying that if Satan’s was divided, then it would be true that his kingdom will fall. How silly it would be to claim that Satan would fight against himself and his own kingdom. Satan works feverishly to sustain his evil kingdom, desiring to hold man under captivity, and bring evil upon us body and soul. He wouldn’t do the opposite. He wouldn’t give Jesus the authority to unravel his power and his kingdom. This would be enough for these blasphemers to get red in the face, but Jesus makes His second statement: “If I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?” Apparently, some of the Jews had relatives who were able to cast out demons by the power of God’s Word. And they were pleased by these exorcisms, but now Jesus who is showing signs that He has divine authority is casting out demons, the Jews are upset. Their relatives cast out demons by the power of God, but Jesus casts them out by the power of Satan? Ridiculous! Their own relatives will be their judges pointing out their hypocrisy.
So with these arguments Jesus makes clear that He is not casting out demons by Beelzebub. That would be utterly impossible, and it is foolish and hypocritical for them to make this claim. The truth is, is that He cast out demons with the finger of God. He drives them away with the power of the Holy Spirit. And if this is the case, then it is true that the kingdom of God has come upon them.
The kingdom of God in Christ as come to them.
Yet, did the Pharisees say, “well, that was a logical argument, how can we argue against that, I guess you are the Son of God, we believe you and your Word.”
No, the Pharisees still hated Christ, still remained under the power of the devil. And there we get a good look of captivity under Satan. In his kingdom of unbelievers, he mutes people that they may not confess Christ and declare His praises. He takes hold of their reason that they cannot see or understand Christ. He occupies their hearts that they hate Christ, and do not desire Him. The devil is the strong man, and we aren’t, an so that is why we say in the meaning to the third article of the Creed, “I cannot by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.” We by the capabilities of our fallen nature cannot understand the spiritual things of God.
We who have been delivered from Satan’s kingdom still know his works. Doesn’t he tempt you to keep your mouths shut when opportunities arise to share the good news of Jesus to others? And instead, he leads you to use your mouths for gossip, slander, for course jesting, and taking Jesus’ name in vain. Doesn’t he tempt you to use our reason to rationalize your sin, making it seem like your sins are okay, or to use our reason to stir doubt about God and His Word? Doesn’t he try to take hold of your heart so that you would rather trust in your heart rather than trust in God, that you desire worldly acceptance and goals, desire lusts and sinful desires, desire glory rather than desire Christ and bear our cross following Him.
With these Satan tries to bring you and me back under his captivity.
But thanks be to God, that His kingdom has come upon us. For Satan does not stand against his own kingdom, but God stands against Satan’s kingdom, and you know how that turns out. Christ has crushed the head of the serpent. The finger of God has delivered you from Egypt’s bondage, that is, from Satan’s grasp. Satan’s prison of unbelief, from which you couldn’t escape, Christ came and destroyed. Jesus is the stronger man. The finger of God in water and the Word rendered Satan powerless. Christ, through the Holy Spirit, has freed you, and brought you into His kingdom. The kingdom of God has come upon you. And because He has done this, you now believe in God, and trust in Jesus, whose life, death, and resurrection has destroyed the power of Satan, and gives you life in His kingdom. You, who in your former state, rejected Christ and His word, now receive Jesus, hear the word and keep it in true faith. And in Jesus’ kingdom, you have forgiveness of all of your sins, you have freedom from the clutches of the devil, you have safety from his evil wiles, you have God as your refuge. In His kingdom, you live in peace with your loving Creator, and with Him, death can have no victory over you.
Furthermore, because of Christ’s victory over the devil, both 2000 years ago, when He suffered, died, and rose again, and more recently, His victory over the devil in you, by bringing you from unbelief to belief, your mouths, minds and hearts are also no longer ruled by Satan. You are freed to proclaim the stronger man, our Lord Jesus, to confess Him in your homes and throughout the world. You are given mouths to speak what is good and loving to your neighbor. You are given minds to ponder the true words of Scripture, to learn God’s will, to see all things with a Christian worldview, viewing the world through the lens of Scripture, and to serve your neighbor. You rejoice to use your minds as God has instructed you through Paul, when he says, “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate upon these things” (Phil 4:8). And Christ has given you hearts to love Christ, to desire Him as your priceless treasure, and follow Him as your bear your cross.
This is what happens when the Kingdom of God has come upon you. The finger of God has delivered you from Satan, and you now live in the grace and forgiveness of God’s kingdom, there having life without end. Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.