It’s amazing how intelligent people can deceive themselves, with wrong thinking. We all do it today still, because of the way life has conditioned us.
The scribes were intelligent men who knew their Scriptures very well. They had spent their lives studying the law, but even intelligent people can have logical breakdowns when it comes to Jesus.
And these verses in Matthew are a clear demonstration of a logical breakdown. The scribes had heard all about what Jesus was doing – the teachings, healings, and the driving out of demons.
Logic would have them see the fulfilment of the Scriptures as these were the very things that had been prophesied about the coming Messiah.
The problem with the kind of education they had is that it can lead to intellectual and spiritual pride. There are many people today who are highly educated too and are unable to see the simple truths of Jesus, but make serious judgments on his viability as our saviour.
Since there was no explanation apart from the Holy Spirit working in and through Jesus, the scribes provided the only explanation they could possibly come up with– Jesus was possessed by Beelzebub (the devil) and was casting out demons by the prince of darkness.
Jesus responds to this strange line of thinking with a logical question: “How can Satan cast out Satan?” Why would Satan cast out Satan? A person does not build a home only to then destroy it.
Because there simply was no way that a demon would drive out another demon. It’s a bit like saying that Hitler was fighting Hitler to win WWII – and quite illogical.
Jesus went on to refer to Satan as the strong man who has all of them in bondage – meaning the scribes were in bondage.
All those who had been healed by Jesus were held by either physical bondages of infirmity or spiritual bondages through oppression.
But as foretold by the prophet Isaiah, the Messiah would come to set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1).
While Jesus came to heal and restore God’s people, the scribes seem to want them to stay in their bondages. Instead of rejoicing at the works of God, these scribes were threatened by this miraculous work.
Although there had been some healings throughout the Old Testament by the prophets and the prayers of the people, there had never been healings of men born blind or those suffering from paralysis.
So Jesus was performing works that the scribes and Pharisees could not perform. He was acting independently of the Jewish authorities and establishments and upsetting the order of things.
What these authorities would not or could not perceive is that the person of Jesus Christ was the one true authority under which all the other authorities and establishments had been created.
Jesus was binding Satan, the strong man, who had held God’s people in bondage for far too long and the power of Jesus was far greater than that of Satan.
So there was a battle raging between the kingdom of God that Jesus was ushering in and the kingdom of this world that Satan had controlled.
The final victory over Satan and his kingdom was won through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. It was an unusual victory and not what was expected. But God does not work according to the plans of people and in the ways of the world.
But, for those who put their trust in the work of Jesus, our victory over sin, death, and Satan is secure.
While the battle here on earth can still feel fierce at times, we have the stronger one on our side. Because Jesus is alive within us and there is no battle that we cannot win through his power.
And the Spirit of God can do what we could never do in our own flesh.
My message is to reflect today on how we might be able to surrender even more deeply to the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and throw off any lingering forms of bondage.
In the name of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen