The Finger of God

Imagine coming upon the scene found in Luke 11.14ff: a once mute demoniac has been healed and now the man is in his right mind and speaking. Perhaps you would respond with the crowd in amazement. But there is not a lot said about the miracle in Luke’s account (just one verse, v.14); instead the focus is on this dialogue which takes place between Jesus and sme of the crowd there. That is where we pick up the story.

The Crowd’s Challenge

After just performing this miracle of casting out a demon, the crowds demand another sign (v.16). But it is not for the purpose of belief or to increase faith or for noble purposes; this is to “test” him. Another translation may read “to tempt” Jesus. This is not a solicitation for evil; rather, it is a test of Jesus’ character. They are lumped in with the people of v.15 who do not attribute the exorcism of the demon as a sign from heaven. The people say this is done by the power of Beelzebul, who is the ruler or prince of demons. Jesus obviously connects this demonic prince to be Satan (cf. v.18). And so, the crowd demands a “true” sign from heaven, not a work of the kingdom of darkness. Therefore, Jesus must set the record straight.

The Christ’s Counter

Luke tells us he knew their thoughts, quite possibly pointing us back to a prophecy made about the babe in 2.35. They need not speak for their thoughts deceive them. So Jesus says to them that their logic is flawed: they have Satan shooting his own soldiers, which is ridiculous. A kingdom like that, where the ruler is killing his army, will fall. Further, if Jesus casts out demons by the power of the devil, then what power are the people’s exocists tapping into? Would it not be the same power, i.e. demonic forces, further confounding the situation. In a word, Jesus says their argument is “stupid.” It is utter foolishness.

So in v.20, Jesus clears up the matter. It is by “the finger of God” that he does these things. Now we could sit and debate about what the finger of God is all day, but fortunately, Scripture is self-interpreting. In the parallel account in Matthew (Matt 12.28), Jesus tells us what the finger of God is – the Spirit of God. That is, the Holy Spirit which has come upon Christ with mighty power (see 4.18-19 which is the fulfillment of Isa 61.1). So the man, Jesus, is using the Holy Spirit to perform these miracles. I think this points to the perfect balance between his humanity and his divinity. He was both 100% man and 100% God at the same time and never did one infringe upon the other.

Not only this, but also Jesus says the kingdom has come upon these people. That is, the rule and reign of God is present in the first century. Hence, when one speaks of the kingdom of God, it is not a thing yet in the future. Rather, it was present in Jesus’ day and indeed, men still enter into it today.

Then there is this quasi-parable in v.21-22. Some would say that the strong man is Satan, guarding his “pssessions,” which are those under his control and that the strong man can be beaten by someone stronger, i.e. the Spirit. Others say that Christ is the stronger man in this parable and he overpowers and binds Satan. Either one would make sense. Though Satan is strong and has some power, he is not omnipotent like God. Jesus concludes the parable with a saying: those not with Jesus are against him and those who scatter are not with Jesus either.

Follow this is another illustrative teaching from the Lord. It would seem that Jesus tells this story to show that he is not about temporary change in a persons life. Again, he points us toward deeper discipleship. It should not be that once the demon is driven out he can return with seven more spirits more evil than himself. As one commentator put it: “This parable shows that spirituality takes not just the absence of evil but the presence of God.” Jesus is warning these people that they are in danger of having even more demons come into their house and that their later state will be worse than it was before. Hence, they should not linger in unbelief and slander, but should turn to God and acknowledge his finger at work in their midst.

Indeed, we can take this to heart as well. We were at one time enslaved to the forces of evil, by the strong man. But Christ worked a work in us and we were “brought into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Col 1.13). But it is not enough to get rid of evil, we are to pile in more and more of God within us. Otherwise we risk falling into an even worse situation than we were in. Paul pictures this perfectly in Colossians 3 where he says we kill some things, put off some things, but also put on some things.

The Chick’s Cry

As Jesus is speaking this teaching about his power and authority, a woman speaks up and blesses Jesus’ mother. It would seem that she was so enthralled with Jesus’ teaching that it must be such a blessing to have a son like him. Jesus, in the word “rather,” does not negate the truth of her statement, but shows the greater value of what he says. True blessedness is found in (again) hearing the word of God and obeying it. There is not higher calling in life than to read, study, and comprehend God’s word and do what it says. You are truly blessed for you are a person in the kingdom, that is, under the rule and reign of God in your life.

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