Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
(Matthew 12:22-24 ESV)
The opposition to Jesus picks up steam in today’s passage. Previously the Jewish leadership had confronted Jesus on several occasions. Most recently, they began to plot to kill Him [Matthew 12:14]. But today they equate Him with Satan.
It all starts when a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus. Up until this point this man must have been very despondent. He may have heard about Jesus or even realized that Jesus was close by at times. But his inability to speak meant that he could not ask to be healed as others had. Thankfully, he had friends who cared about Him and brought Him to Jesus.
Jesus, as He always did, healed him with the proof being he subsequently spoke and saw. Jesus had performed many public, miraculous healings before this one, all of which were impressive. But this one must have really blown the socks off people because they were amazed. The original Greek here is very strong. The people were utterly shocked that this man was healed.
As a result they began to wonder out-loud if Jesus was the Son of David. This is a reference to an Old Testament term for the Messiah who God had promised to send to Israel. The Messiah would be a descendant of King David. They seemingly had doubts most likely because Jesus was so unlike the picture of the Son of David they have been trained to expect.
Here we see a problem of selective belief. The Scriptures the people had at this time – the Old Testament – were very clear that the Messiah would come in power, liberate Israel from its oppressor (which at this time was Rome), and conquer Israel’s enemies. This is easy to believe because it’s what they wanted. But it was harder to believe that the Messiah would be meek and humble even though the very same Scriptures said He would be.
What they didn’t realize was that the Messiah would come twice: first as a meek servant who would die, then as a conquering king. What they didn’t realize was that their oppressor was not Rome but sin.
While the populace wondered, the Pharisees had no doubt. They admitted that Jesus casts out demons and performed other miracles. So they knew that Jesus’ power was supernatural. That left them with only two choices as to the source of that power: God or Satan. But they already made up their mind that Jesus was not from God so they had to attribute His power to Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Beelzebul is another name for Satan.
Notice that the Pharisees state this to contradict the people’s comments. The Pharisees were losing their influence. They attempted to suppress the people’s belief in Jesus to satisfy their own ego. Unlike the demon-oppressed man’s friends who lead him to Christ, the Jewish leaders of the day were leading the people astray with their erroneous teachings. This is never a good thing [Matthew 23:13; Luke 17:2].
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