Lent: The First Week – Wednesday

To Seek and To Save

The Speechless Man

Now he was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the dumb man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Be-el′zebul, the prince of demons”; while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Be-el′zebul. And if I cast out demons by Be-el′zebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil.He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

Luke 11:14-26

While Jesus was on the road to Jerusalem, where He would suffer, be rejected and killed, and on the third day rise again, He came across a man who was unable to speak. And while Jesus had proved on a number of occasions that He had the power to give speech to the dumb, there was something different about this man’s illness. This was not a physical problem. This was a spiritual problem. Luke, the beloved physician, tells us that this man’s inability to speak was caused by demon possession. But not even this was too much for Jesus. He cast out the demon and the man was able to speak!

We don’t know what the man said because, interestingly, Luke isn’t interested. Instead, he focuses our attention on two groups of people who witnessed this miracle, both of whom hated Jesus. The first group claimed that Jesus was only able to cure this man because He was in league with demons. The others, not satisfied with the evidence of this miracle, demanded that if Jesus really was the messiah, He should be doing still more amazing miracles.

Jesus gave an interesting answer to both of these groups. He said that a house, or family, cannot stand if it is divided. And Dr Ferguson points out that this answer worked on two different levels. First, it showed that His opponents that day were in disarray. While they agreed that they hated Him and opposed Him, they couldn’t agree on the best way to bring Him down. In fact, their arguments were contradictory. They were divided. As the Gospel record goes on we see that these divisions and contradictions lasted right up until Jesus’ crucifixion. Second, Jesus was saying that if he was really in league with demons, why on earth would He be casting them out? And not just casting them out but ensuring that they could never again torment their victims. This is what Jesus meant when He talked about the strong man who attacks a palace, defeats its owner, and steals his armour and his treasure. Jesus is that strong man. He now owns what the demon had once owned – the man who had once been rendered speechless by the demon – and that man, now, is safe.

As we think about this victory over the demonic world, let’s remember why Jesus had “set His face to go to Jerusalem.” In His death and resurrection, Jesus was to prove that He was the promised Seed of the woman, who had come to crush the head of the serpent. Or, as John put it, to “destroy the works of the devil,” (I John 3:8). He had already defeated the devil in the wilderness. He was now rescuing His own from bondage to the devil. And on the cross and in His resurrection, He would win the decisive victory over Satan.

“We live now in the aftermath of that victory. But we are still waiting for the final destruction of Satan’s kingdom. So long as that is so, the evil one will try to get revenge on Jesus by attacking His disciples. The Christian life is a battle to the end! But in that battle, Jesus is the winner. And those who belong to Jesus are on the winning side.”

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