From where does Jesus get his authority to cast out demons?
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 Beelzebul, 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 Beelzebul. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, 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 upon 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 armour in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.
23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, 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 person 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.”
Australians have traditionally had issues with, and a mistrust of, those in authority. I feel like over the past decade this has only become clearer, with the growing mistrust of politicians. We are naturally, and rightly, wary of those with more power than us, as there is a real danger of people becoming corrupted by that power and using it for their own selfish gain.
This passage in Luke is all about authority. In particular, it is all about Jesus’ authority, and where his authority comes from.
The first thing I’m struck by here is that there is no denying amongst the crowd that Jesus actually did drive out the demon from the man who had been mute. There are three groups of responses we see – those who were amazed (v14), those who thought he was casting out demons under Satan’s authority (v15) and those who wanted to see a sign from heaven on top of what Jesus had already done (v16). None of these groups questioned whether Jesus had actually cast out the demon – the question was, where did he get the authority to do it?
Jesus answers that question, and the queries of those groups, in his words in verses 17 to 19. He quickly and simply shuts down the idea that he casts out demons by the power of Satan – and instead, he says, he drives out demons by the finger of God. It is from heaven that Jesus’ authority comes – from the Father himself! I’m struck here that he doesn’t say the hand of God, which is much more common language – but the finger, as if God barely has to lift a finger to cast out demons. It’s a great picture of just how much God is in control of the spiritual forces of evil!
This passage is a wonderful comfort. While we are reminded that demons are a real danger for us, and that we are in a spiritual battle (see Ephesians 6), we see clearly that while Satan is indeed powerful (described as a ‘strong man’ in verse 21), Jesus is far more powerful. Jesus has complete power and authority over Satan and all the spiritual forces of evil.
So, how we view Jesus matters (v23). He draws a line in the sand; there is no sitting on the fence. You’re either with him, or against him. And from this passage we can clearly see which side of that fence is the best one to be on!
Head: Think of as many ways as you can in which it is better to be with Jesus than against him.
Heart: How do you feel about being under the authority of Jesus, rather than having the authority over your own life?
Hands: Do you feel like you are in a spiritual battle? How can you help yourself to be more aware of spiritual dangers in your daily life?
Prayer: Father God, I rejoice that through Jesus you have already won the victory over all of the forces of evil in this world, and even over death. Thank you that these dangerous forces of evil need hold no fear for those who place their trust in you. Please help me to be with Jesus, and not against him; to submit myself to his loving power and authority which was demonstrated perfectly at the cross. Amen.
A song to listen to: Saved My Soul
Nick Woodward – Living Church Creek Road