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Beyond Amazement

Beyond Amazement

Words of Faith 8-17-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 11

    [14] Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. [15] But some of them said, "By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons." [16] Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.

    [17] Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. [18] If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. [19] Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. [20] But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

    [21] "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. [22] But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.

    [23] "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.

    [24] "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' [25] When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. [26] Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."

    [27] As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."

    [28] He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

 

       As Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem, there was a swirl of attention and conflict that followed Him.  Today we see some of the responses to the ministry of Jesus in the valley.  Clearly there was something different about this Jesus.  There were miracles, healings and powerful teachings.  How did people respond?

        The act that precipitated a clarification of response was the driving out of a demon that had kept a man from speaking.  Suddenly the power within Jesus was undeniable.  Luke tells us that there were two responses.  The crowd was amazed.  But some of them said, "By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons." Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.  That is a wide variation in response.

        The crowd was amazed.  Their attention was captured at least for the moment.  But amazement doesn't really mean much.  There are a lot of amazing things in the world.  But the question is where you go from amazement. 

        These amazed people had two initial responses-- accusation and doubt.   Some said this was the power of Beelzebub, the devil.  Others said, "Well, let's see if you can prove who you are.  Do some tricks. Show us some signs.  Do something impressive for us." 

        The accusation came from religious people.  The doubt came from people who always want just a little more proof-- one more sign from heaven before they will commit.  Jesus spoke to both responses and offered an alternative.  Luke records that Jesus responded with a rabbinical style teaching.  

         First, Jesus noted that "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub."  In other words, even Satan is not stupid enough to war against himself!  (Hmm. What this says about church battles is a subject for another time.)  It simply makes no sense that the enemy would wage war against itself.

         Jesus reasoned that there were others who also had cast out demons.  "Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you." 

        Jesus knew that others in Judaism were known to drive out demons.  They saw it as the power of God.  Logically, then, Jesus had to be making manifest the same power.  If this exceeded what they normally saw from such people, then this must be the very finger of God.  Their own followers would have to bear witness to this.

        And who is more powerful?  "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils." 

       The argument follows that if a strong man guards a house only a stronger man can overtake that house.  In Judaism, nothing is more powerful than the Lord God.  Jesus is the stronger man.  If Jesus defeated the "strong man", then surely He is of God.  We get an advance image here of the ultimate triumph of Jesus over the enemy at the cross.

       "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters."  So if I am not of Beelzebub, and if I am working from the power of Your God, and if I manifest power stronger than that of the enemy what can you conclude?   And if you are not with me you are against me.  It is time to get off the fence.  It is time to get with the program.  Either help me gather, or you are scattering the flock.

       You may be quick to ask: In Luke 9:50 didn't Jesus warn the disciples not to say such a thing. "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."   The point there was that WE are not to say: "Whoever is not with me is against me..."  We do not have the discernment to separate wheat and tares.  We are to say, "If you are not against us, you are for us."  Jesus is the only one who can say: Whoever is not with me is against me. 

       Jesus made one more point about this manifestation of the Kingdom.  There are many who clean the house of unclean spirits by the name and power of God.  The question is, what do you put back in?  "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.'  When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."

          Jesus was clear that just cleansing a person of old habits, sins, or demonic influences is not enough.  Holy things must take the place of unholy things.  The Word of God must take up residence in the lives of people where once there was unholiness. 

           So how should we respond to the Kingdom ministry in the valley?  Let's look.  As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."  The woman was responding with flattery.  She sort of gushed as we sometimes do.  But even that was not really the correct response.  Jesus gently corrected her. He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."   Hear God and obey.  This is the response Jesus is looking for.

        What is Your response to Jesus?  Are you amazed at Him? Amazement is a good starting point but there is more to responding to Jesus than amazement.  Are you suspicious of Jesus?  He is the stronger man.  Do you doubt Him until He does another trick?  Or do you gush in flattery?  None of these fit.  Jesus calls us to hear God's word and obey.

 

         Father God, give me the grace to respond in faith.  Help me to trust and obey in response to Jesus.  Show me the walk of faith that is lived out in obedience to Your Word.  In Jesus' name.