Skip Heitzig - Luke 11:1-28
Father, you've heard our prayer in the songs that have led up to this study. Here's our heart, Lord, we give you our very heart. We give you the heart of who we are. You know who we are. We're not hiding anything from you. And we come, Lord, in that nakedness and that openness, that transparency, knowing that you know everything about us, but you love us anyway. And we ask, Lord, that you would speak what is true, because we have your Word to go through. We know that it is the truth. May it be confirmed to us tonight. And would you just take those verses, those passages that deal with the things we're dealing with and break them afresh to our lives, in Jesus' name, amen.
It's very difficult to be praising when you're pouting. It's difficult to be praying when you're pouting. When you're pouting it just sort of takes all your energy; and conversely, it's difficult to be pouting when you're praying and praising. Last time we were together in this book we saw that great little story at the end of chapter 10 where two sisters Mary and Martha had Jesus over at a house. Martha was busy cooking, preparing; Mary was sitting and worshiping. Martha was working; Mary was worshiping. Martha started pouting while her sister had been praising: "Don't you care, Lord, that I'm doing all this work myself? Tell my sister to get up and work." And you know what that's like, do you not? You know what it's like to just have all of your focus on "poor little me," and "Why haven't you, God, done what I want."
And when you're pouting, it's hard to be praising; but when you're praising and praying, it's very hard to turn that into pouting. In fact, I would say if you're a pouter, turn that into praying and praising. Make a conversion, an intentional conversion. Well, in that room, at that home, on that occasion were Jesus' closest followers, his disciples. They were watching this. They were hearing the conversation. Moreover, in chapter 11 they will be watching Jesus as he is praying, and Luke ties these two events together. If we had a chronology of the New Testament, I would have to say that between chapter 10 and chapter 11 is a period of time. You could insert John, chapter 9, and most of chapter 10 in between Luke, chapter 10, and Luke, chapter 11, where we left off last week and where we are, last time and this week.
But what Luke wants us to do is to bring these elements together in our minds. He wants to show us that the disciples have been noticing and watching the prayer life of Jesus and the pouting and praising of Mary and Martha. And he ties these two elements together in chapter 11. Notice in verse 1, "Now it came to pass, as he [Jesus] was praying in a certain place." It's the fifth time now that Luke mentions the prayer life of Jesus. "When he ceased, that one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray.'" They had noticed something dynamic in the life of Jesus that perhaps they were lacking. They certainly noticed that Martha had lacked it. And in studying the life of Jesus, and in being a part of that situation at that home, they wanted more, and so they come with a request.
Now, what's interesting is this is the only thing, this is the only request the disciples ever ask Jesus to teach them. The disciples never said, "Jesus, teach us to preach. We want to be in your school of ministry. We would like to attend your theological seminary. Teach us to administrate and teach us to preach and teach us to church plant." It's interesting, the only thing they requested is, "Lord, teach us to pray." Because that is if you got that right, you'll get the rest right. If you'll get connected with heaven and you have a dynamic prayer life, all the rest will come, and it came with them. "Lord, teach us to pray." Now, again, notice how it's worded. They didn't say, "Lord, teach us how to pray." They were Jewish. They grew up praying their whole lives. They had recited prayers: prayers for special events, prayers for the Sabbath.
But more than just how to do it, teach us to do it. Big difference. We all know how to do it. When was the last time you did it, spent time with the Lord in prayer? "Lord, teach us to pray. We're watching you now. We're seeing the dynamism in your life. And in seeing that, we have a request, teach us to pray." "And so he said to them, 'When you pray, say'", what we have now is what is typically called the Lord's Prayer. It is misnamed, really. We call it the Lord's Prayer because Jesus is, because the letters are in red. He's speaking it, so we think this is the Lord's Prayer. This is really the disciples' prayer. Jesus' prayer, the real Lord's Prayer is John, chapter 17. That's Jesus connecting with his Father in that intimate moment before the cross. But this I prefer to see as the disciples' prayer, and it is a template for prayer.
I think it's something that is good for you to know it, to memorize it, to say it. Or if you don't want to do that, to use it as a template, that you work through the generalities of this prayer. And I'll kind of describe them to you as we do it. But I remember some years ago a great man of God, Elmer Towns was his name, and Elmer was a professor at Liberty University. And he was a great man of prayer, and he was a great man of God, great preacher. And I was with him in Amsterdam. And we were on a committee together for Dr. Graham's Amsterdam 2000. And I sat next to him in a meeting, and he goes, "Skip, I want to challenge you to pray the Lord's Prayer, the disciples' prayer every day of your life. I just challenge you to do it and see what will happen."
Now, I know, some of you are going to say, "Oh were but we're not supposed to recite it, because Jesus said, 'Don't use vain repetitions.'" Well, if you say it from your heart, it's not a vain repetition. Just mean it when you say it. Don't just spout it out loud. I grew up with memorized prayers and I could just, I could do Hail Mary's and Our Fathers and Glory Be's all night. But if you mean it from your heart, then it's not a vain repetition. "He said, 'When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'" You'll notice something: the first part of this prayer is all about God. He doesn't say, "When you pray, immediately say, 'Lord, give me this and give me that. And you know I need this and I need that.'"
But rather, make sure that when you talk to your Father, your prayer life is balanced, so that the first part you're recognizing to whom you are praying. See, we like to skip the first part and just kind of move right into where it really counts, where the rubber meets the road, the "I," the "me," the "my," "this is what I need." That's how we would typically do it. But I submit to you that the more mature you become in the Lord, the less that matters, because you simply realize "I have a relationship with God, he knows best, so I'm just going to hang out with him. I'm going to commune with him." It's interesting, my granddaughter, she is so precious. She's so beautiful. And she's one of the highlights of my life, because I've told you there has not been a Heitzig girl for a hundred years until her.
So she can do no wrong, and yet I notice that flesh is flesh. And the other night, over at my house, I made some little foam, cappuccino foam, no coffee in it. But my grandson, Seth, he likes to have the cappuccino and kind of sugared up a little bit. He calls that his coffee. So I made him "coffee," and as I was taking it to her, she stood there and said, "That's mine." And I said, "No, sweetheart, it's not 'mine.'" So she just broke down crying. So I made her whatever she wants. I mean, that's what grandpas do, right? Fill them with sugar, send them home. But I notice that this leaning, this proclivity, this propensity that we all have to say, "It's mine," and to be very self-oriented. But I was like that too when I was her age. I don't remember it, but I know I was.
As I grew older, my relationship with my parents changed. When my mom, before she passed away, my dad, before he passed away, I didn't get on the phone and go, "Mom, I want this and I want that. That's mine." No. I, hopefully, had matured a bit since I was a baby. And now my conversations were more like this: "How have you been, Mom? Boy, it's great just to talk to you. I'd love to just spend some time hanging out with you." Now that's a mature relationship. And I think the older we grow in the Lord, that's what it's like when we pray: "Lord, I just, here I am. I'm in your presence, and as I'm here, I acknowledge to whom I am talking, 'Our Father.'" Please hear this, it's not "Great and awesome God, mighty..." He is all of that, but he's more than that. He's your dad. And Jesus said he wants to be approached like that.
Oh, it's good to recognize the power and majesty and might of God, but it's very important that you recognize the relationship that you have with him, "Our Father." And it's not just "Our Father," but it's "Our Father in heaven." "I recognize that you are God that you are in heaven. And I recognize that from heaven you have a vantage point that I don't have. You see things I don't see. I have a very narrow, limited vantage point. I see what I think needs to be done, but you're in heaven, you know exactly what the situation is." Now, I tell you why this is important, because when you pray knowing to whom you are speaking and with whom you are dealing, it's easy for you to have faith in prayer and pray the rest and the "I," "me's" and the "my's." You'll have faith when you recognize to whom you are speaking.
Case in point, Acts, chapter 4, the disciples were confronted by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council, that they couldn't preach the gospel anymore in Jerusalem. It was now illegal. With that threat, they went to a prayer meeting, and this is how they prayed. They didn't say, "O God, help!" Listen to how they prayed: "Lord, you are God, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them." That's how you start a prayer. I realize that I'm talking to the One who is in heaven who has no limitations whatsoever, so now I have a request. You see, when you and I come to prayer, it's often like, "Lord, this is really a hard situation I'm dealing with. I need 600 bucks for rent." Well, since when was rent 600 bucks, right? I mean, I need to get a little more contemporary.
It's like, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, you own, like, a cattle on a thousand hills. You created the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything's that in them, all I need is 600, or 6,000 bucks." To God that's nothing. You know, we'll come to God and say, "Lord, I have a cold. I know you can heal that. I pray you would, in Jesus' name." But what if it's a different C? What if it's the big C, it's cancer? "O Lord", wait a minute. That's no harder for the Lord than a cold. If God is doing the work, difficulty must always be measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work. God is doing the work. He's unlimited. "Our Father in heaven," and then it's "Holy is your name," "Hallowed be your name." It's the same word as saint or sanctified, set apart, different, unique.
"I recognize that you are to be honored and glorified and magnified, and so I turn my pouting into praising and to praying." "Your kingdom come," is the next part. You know, how different would our communication with God be if we were to filter all of what we need, or say we need, all that we want, through the filter of God's kingdom and God's will? "Your kingdom come. Your will be done." What does it mean when you pray, "Thy kingdom come"? Well, it means, in one sense that you are praying for his coming kingdom. "Lord Jesus, come quickly. Come set up shop. Come fix this earth. We're a mess. Come set up your kingdom." But he's going to do that whether you pray that or not. That is our hope and it's good to voice our hope in the prayer.
One of my favorite verses is Revelation, chapter 11, "The seventh trumpet sounded: And the voices in heaven said this: 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.'" Can't wait for that announcement. I haven't heard it yet. And with all the elections that go on, still waiting for that. "The kingdoms of this world that become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ." But one day it's going to come. There'll be a coming kingdom. There'll be a millennial kingdom. He'll show us how it's supposed to be done. But I believe that when I pray "Thy kingdom come," I'm praying for more than just Jesus to come back and establish his worldwide kingdom on earth and the eternal state in glory. I think it's more personal: "Lord, I'm inviting you to sit on the throne of my life and to be my King."
"I'm inviting your kingship to be things that dictate my future. I want to do things according to your kingdom. I want to make decisions that further your kingdom and your fame." And that's followed by, "Thy kingdom come. Thy or your will be done." Is God's will being done today? It's a trick question, because on one sense you can answer it based on the sovereignty of God and say, "Of course, it's always being done." You could look at the sinfulness of man and say, "Not so much." But I'm going to answer it this way: it all depends. When I was running from the Lord that was not God's will. When I see somebody dying in their sins that is not God's will. "For God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
"Thy will be done on earth", this is a beautiful world. It bears the mark of an incredible Creator. However, as I look around the world today, this is not what God intended. I know that, because what God intended he will do, I believe, in a thousand-year period upon the earth, according to the Old and the New Testament. He will showcase a redeemed creation, saved, operating completely under his will. Again, I want to personalize that: "Lord, I want your will to be done in my life on this earth, in this piece of the earth where I am." So, notice the flow of the prayer. I recognize to whom I am speaking. It's my Father in heaven, not my catalog in heaven, "I claim it, in Jesus' name." But it's my Father. I have a relationship with him. He loves me. He's in heaven, not on earth. He has a vantage point like no one else.
I want his kingdom to come. I want him to rule and reign in where I'm at in my life, in my sphere. I want his will to be accomplished in my life. And now I will filter everything through that grid. So that's the first part of this prayer. It's all "you," "your." And now we turn to the second part of the prayer. And it's not "me" even. It's "our." Isn't it interesting this plural in this prayer? It's not "My Father who art in heaven...", it's "Our Father..." And then notice the language, verse 3, "Give us day by day our daily bread." This is where when we pray we recognize we're part of a family. I love the idea of a personal relationship with Christ, but I am afraid that we Western evangelicals have taken that to mean a private relationship with the Lord. No. We have a personal relationship with Christ.
He knows our individual needs, but I'm part of a group. It's not private. I'm part of a body. And when I pray, I recognize I have brothers and sisters as well, so it's "our." "Give us day by day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." It's my belief that our God wants us to depend on him daily. "Give us day by day our daily bread." It's not, "Give us this month our bimonthly pay check"; it's "Give us this day" or "day by day our daily bread." I believe the Lord loves to hear from us in dependence daily. I bug him early in the morning: "Father, it's me. I depend on you today. Before my feet hit the floor, my eyes awaken, and I talk, I commit the day to you, Lord. I commit all that's going to happen to me to you today, Lord."
But it's a daily dependence. And then we also recognize that we need forgiveness and we need to forgive. It seems to me, and I think it's a biblical principle, that vertical forgiveness is intertwined with horizontal forgiveness. We have been forgiven much, Jesus told us in another place. Who are we to withhold forgiveness from anyone else? We have no right. If we have been forgiven so great a debt by God himself, then certainly we can forgive others who are guilty of a much lesser debt than we owe to God. We have no right to withhold forgiveness. More than that, one of the proofs that a person is indeed penitent, a child of God, is that that person, that man, that woman, is a forgiver. If I see a person who harbors grudges and won't forgive, I truly wonder, even though they claim to be a believer, could they really be one?
Do they not understand that God has forgiven them an eternal debt? Do they have any right at all to withhold forgiveness, hold a grudge? Do they not understand that if they have been forgiven vertically that horizontally they must share and show that forgiveness? Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you." Same principle. "'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' And he said to them, 'Which of you shall have a friend'", and this is now particular to the gospel of Luke. "'Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, "Friend, lend me three loaves. "'"
Now, honestly, when I read this, I think, "I don't have a friend like that." I mean, I wouldn't get out of bed at midnight and go do that, and I wouldn't expect any of my friends to be calling me at midnight. However, in the Middle East, especially in the summertime when it's really hot, it's typical to travel at night instead of the heat of the day. So they will often travel at night, or they did in those days. So, it was not uncommon to have somebody knock at your door at midnight. They would understand that. It would be more natural rendering for them. A friend might show up at somebody's house and that person, that host doesn't have the wherewithal to feed, to house, to help
"'And"'And he says, "Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, I have nothing to set before him"; and he will answer from within and say, "Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you"? I say to you, though he will not rise to give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence'", keeps banging at that door, "'he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.'"
You need to understand in this little story that we just read, this little parable, this analogy is an analogy of contrast, not comparison. God isn't a cranky neighbor. He's not a grumpy neighbor and you have to just bang on his door, because he goes, "Okay, I'll give. Here's a loaf. Get out of here." He's not comparing him, he's contrasting a grumpy neighbor with a gracious God. "Hey, a grumpy neighbor will give food to you if you keep persisting, and only because you keep knocking, and now the kids are waking up and the dog is barking. So, if a grumpy neighbor would do that, what do you think a gracious Father would do?" It's a contrast. "'So I say to you, ask'", now that's a commandment. I want you to get something in your hearts.
After telling the story, now Jesus applies it and he gives them what's called a present active imperative in the Greek language. It's in the present tense. It's in the active voice. It's in the imperative mood. And what it means is this: "So I am telling you this as a commandment of mine to you: Keep on and never stop asking. Keep on and never stop knocking and seeking." Now immediately those of you who are more astute Bible students would say, "Now, wait a minute, it sort of does sound like God will only answer us if we keep doing it. And it is all about just being persistent, rather than a gracious Father." But when Jesus says, "Keep doing it, keep doing it, keep doing it," he doesn't mean, like, keep doing it with one request, but keep doing it throughout your life as a matter and manner of lifestyle.
That you will continually and always bring everything before the Lord in prayer, because you have a gracious heavenly Father. You see the difference? It's not like I'm banging, I'm banging, I'm banging. "Please! Please!" and he bugged God, so he finally goes, "Okay. Here's a dollar or something. Now, go away, you bother me." That is not what is intended for you to have in your heart. But, no, we have not a grumpy neighbor, but a gracious Father, and he wants you to keep bringing things up, all things. Well, Paul said it this way: "Pray without ceasing." That's the idea. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." So we have a promise attach to a command. I've often wondered why Jesus needed to command his disciples to pray to him.
Why would God ever need to give you a commandment to pray? An invitation, we would understand, but why would God need to command you to pray? Well, I'll tell you a few reasons that come to my mind: I forget because I'm human. I can get into periods of doubt, because I'm human. I can get into periods of despair. I can't see God, but I can see this person, and I know this person's very generous. So I could easily talk to this person whom I can see than one that I can't see. All of those reasons might cause a person to need a commandment. So here's Jesus commanding you: "Don't give up. Keep talking to me as a manner of your lifestyle about everything that goes on in your life. Do it daily. Do it all the time, because you have a gracious heavenly Father." It's a commandment.
Jeremiah 33 verse 3 is a similar command. God commands, "Call unto me, and I will answer you, and I will show you great and mighty things, which you know not." That's the idea. He continues, verse 11, and it's all about the subject of prayer. "'If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will you give him a stone? And if he asks for a fish, will you give him a serpent instead of a fish?'" What our Lord is doing here is demonstrating God the Father's willingness to answer prayer in a very familiar story or very familiar analogy of a son needing daily food and coming his father and saying, "Daddy, I'm hungry. Can I have some bread?"
So Jesus, playing off that very familiar example, says, "Now, you in this crowd, you who are listening to me, if you're a father and your son says, 'Daddy, I'm hungry. Can I have some bread?' would you put, like, would you go to McDonald's and buy a Big Mac, and slip the patty out, and put a little flat rock in there, with a kind of an impish grin on your face, going, 'I can't wait to see the look on his face when he bites into that stone"? Oh, you're going to break his teeth and you're going to break his heart. Or if he asks for a McFish sandwich, you're not going to put a serpent in there or a scorpion. Of course not. You're going to, as a good father, give your son what he asked for, your child.
"'If he asks for an egg,'" verse 12, "'will you offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil'", that is, evil by nature, as compared to God who is perfect, "'if you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more'", I want you to notice those words. Because what our Lord is teaching us is that you can take the most intimate human relationship of a parent and a child, and a parent will often do anything for a child, you take the most intimate, dependent human relationship, and you think of the kind of love there, God's love is so much more. That's the idea. , "'much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'" Over the years I have watched parents with kids, and in watching them I've watched kids with parents.
And I have noticed that a child will approach a parent and ask their parent for something based upon what that child believes that parent to be. If the parent is angry, if the parent is stingy, then the child won't ask for much and won't do it very often. If the parent is generous and inviting, it's a different story. Now, grandparents, I'm not even going to get into that, because, "What do you want? It's yours." "'If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, much more your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him!'" Luke mentions giving the Holy Spirit, the other Gospels say, "will give good things to those who ask." And I think it's too different teachings in a couple of different places.
But when you come to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes inside of you as an abiding possession. You are baptized into the body of Christ, one body. But I also believe that we need to ask the Lord for power for service. That's what the Lord taught in Acts, chapter 2, that the Holy Spirit will come upon you for service. "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the uttermost parts of the earth." So I love this idea where we have a connection with the Father, through the Son, and we're asking for the power of the Holy Spirit, that we have a relationship with the triune God, all three persons in the Trinity we relate to. So, "Father, you're my Father in heaven. I come to you in the name and through the work of your Son Jesus Christ and what he did for me on the cross.
"And you know how much I need the power, the infilling, the reinvigorating of your Holy Spirit in my life and ministry." "And he was casting out a demon." It's interesting how Luke just says that as a matter of fact. Like, "Yes, this happens all the time. And one day, you know, he was casting out this demon." "And it was mute." I think that's a good thing, because if it could talk, that could be a bad thing. "And so it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute", the person who had been possessed by the demon. That person had been rendered mute, but now he could speak. , "the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled." We've dealt with this on many occasions. The supernatural is real. The Bible speaks about God, the origin of man, as well the origin of the Devil.
We've discussed how Satan fell from heaven. And a couple studies ago Jesus said, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven," and we kind of mapped all that out. But it's nothing to be toyed with. Certainly, "Greater is he that is in [us], than he that is in the world." And you never have to be afraid of encountering people who have demons, because you're a child of God. However, I will say it is disconcerting and it can take you off guard if you're not ready for it. It can take your breath away. I have on a few occasions, not only in my BC days with all the astral projection and spirit writing and all those demon activities that I was doing, I saw real power. But since I've been a saved person and a pastor, I've also seen a powerful enemy.
I'll never forget years ago I watched a gal, she couldn't have been more than five feet. And I know this, because my mom was only five feet tall. And this little gal lifted with one hand, it was right in one of our offices upstairs, a guy who was six foot eight, I believe. I'm six-five. He was six-eight or six-nine. Picked him up, and I'm looking at the air between his feet and the carpet, and put him up against the wall. And this guy was a big, strong guy, but I'll tell you what, he melted. His eyes just got so big and, "What is happening!?" And it was a real encounter of a demon-possessed girl. And it was an interesting day that day at the church. It was one of those days you just don't forget. A lot fun to see the Lord's power.
Verse 15, "But some of them said [concerning Jesus], 'He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons.'" What we have here is the enemies of Jesus noticing the reality of his miraculous power, noticing some unusual activity, that there was a person demon possessed that Jesus had power over. It was indisputable. They saw it. They heard it. But now they have to relegate it. They have to categorize it. They have to deal with it, do something with it. "What will our explanation be for this power?" So here's their answer: "He's doing this work by the power of the Devil himself, by Beelzebub." Now I think it's good if you understand what "Beelzebub" is. Originally the term "Beelzebub" comes to us from the Old Testament. In Second Kings, chapter 1, you don't have to turn there. Let me just tell you a quick little story.
The king of the northern kingdom of Israel, Ahaziah, fell through a lattice in his upper chamber, fell to the ground, and he got hurt. In his intestines he was badly hurt. So he sent ambassadors out to Ekron, the city of the Philistines, down south, because that's where the god of Ekron was worshiped. He was a Canaanite god in a Philistine area, and he was a local deity of that area. So the king said, "Go inquire of Beelzebub to see if I'm going to live or die." So they go out and the prophet Elijah hears about it. I love Elijah. He confronts the messengers and says, "Go ask the king this: Is there no God in Israel that you have to go down to Ekron to Beelzebub and inquire, make such an inquiry? Here you're supposed to be a ruler of God's people. Have you forgotten there's a God in Israel?"
So they go back to the king, they go, "You know, we were on our way and this guy met us and he told us this." And the king said, "What did he look like?" Said, "He was a hairy guy." He goes, "That's Elijah the Tishbite." So he sent fifty men down to take Elijah. And Elijah saw them, called fire down from heaven and destroyed them all. Another fifty were dispatched from the king, and Elijah saw them coming and wiped them out. The third party begged him kindly, "Please, please come nicely with us to the king. He would just really love to see you. Do not call fire down from heaven." So that was all about that Beelzebub guy worshiping down in Ekron. Now, "Beelzebub" is kind of a linguistic transformation of the original word. The original word is "Baal-Zebub," B-A-A-L.
You've seen that in the Old Testament, right, how they worship Baal or Ba'al? Now, that term "Baal" or "Ba'al," "Baal-Zebub," was an Ugaritic term, which was an ancient Semitic language. And Baal or Ba'al is the general word for "god" in that part of the world. And then what follows, "Zebub," or other following other words, demonstrate whatever or dictate whatever domain he's in charge of. So, the Lord of this, or the Lord of that. So there was Baal-Zebul, which is the master over the heavenly realms. There was Baal- or Beelzebub, which is the lord of or the master of the flies. Why would anybody want to worship the master of flies, the lord of flies? "You know, go talk to the fly god to see if I'm going to get better." Are you nuts? I'm coming with flypaper, bind that fly god. I hate flies.
And I completely lost what I was going say, so... . I'm thinking of flies and flypaper. So, now by the New Testament era the term Beelzebub or Baal-Zebub has simply become a notorious name and given to another realm, Satan, demonic realm. It's just a common term that people would use to speak of, of Satan, of the Devil. So they're using that term. "And so they said, 'He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons,'" or he's in control of casting demons out by Satan himself. "Others, testing him, sought from him a sign from heaven. So he, knowing their thoughts", notice that Jesus knows their thoughts. They didn't have to say anything. , "said to them", and notice how logical. Perfect logic. Jesus is both logical and theological at the same time. Perfect logic poised to them.
"'Every kingdom,' he said, 'divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub.'" So you see his logic: "If I am controlled by the Devil, and I am disarming the Devil's control in people's life, it's a civil war going on in his kingdom. I'm disintegrating his kingdom. If I'm using his power to undermine him, the house can't stand. So, what you're saying is stupid. It's illogical. Why would Satan try to undermine himself?" And then he strikes the decisive blow. Verse 20, "'But if I cast out demons'", verse 19, "'If I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?'" your disciples, those among the Jewish ranks who claimed also exorcised demons.
"'Therefore they will be your judges.'" "You see, you are willing to say that your disciples, your Jewish disciples, your sons, are able to cast out demons, and you are willing to say that when I cast out demons it's by the power of the Devil. It's the same result, but you're saying it's from two different sources. That doesn't make any sense at all." Pure, perfect logic. Now, you ought to know that in that day, in that age, there were itinerant Jewish exorcists, and we come to a group of them in Acts, chapter 19. Remember the story in Ephesus? It says there were itinerant Jewish exorcists who called upon the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches to cast demons out. They were not followers of Christ. They were not believers. But they had heard that the name of Jesus is powerful, so they said, "Let's try it."
So there were these seven guys called the seven sons of Sceva who in Ephesus found a guy who was demon possessed. And they came up to him and go, "We exorcise you [or adjure you] in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches to come out of him." And the demon spoke through the man, and said, "Well, we know Paul, and we know Jesus, but we don't know who you are." And they leaped on the seven sons. One demon-possessed guy whaled on seven dudes, beat them up, and they fled from the house naked and wounded. So they were itinerant exorcists who were in the area, around. They had been around for a long time, and that's just one incident of that. But then Jesus says in verse 20, "'But if I cast out demons with the finger of God," or by the power of God, by the Spirit of God, "'surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.'"
"What you're saying is illogical, but if, on the other hand, this truly is the power, the finger of God, then the kingdom of God is in your midst. The King is here among you." The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would be filled with the Spirit, the seven-fold manifestation of the Spirit, Isaiah, chapter 11. And part of it is, the description is "the Spirit of might" or the Spirit of power. So what he was doing by saying "the finger of God," and "the kingdom of God come upon you," it was a messianic claim. Jesus continues, "'When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.'"
The strong man is Satan. That's the context that we're reading. The stronger man is Jesus. Please never forget that. Instead of getting spooked that "The devils did this, and last night I saw this and then I heard this, and I'm freaked out", Jesus is living inside of you, even if the Devil shows up. The Devil showed up, Martin Luther said, in front of him several times. And there's even the story where he threw his inkwell across the room and it stained the wall of the room in which he was staying. But after a while, Luther said, "I got so used to it," that one night he woke up and he, the Devil, supposedly appeared to him, and he just said, "Oh, it's just you," turned over and went to sleep. "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." He's a strong man, but Jesus is the stronger man. That's the point of this.
"'When a stronger than he comes in", and the other Gospels say, "binds the strong man", "'and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.'" Jesus came to undo the works of the Devil. The binding of the strong man by the stronger man Jesus will come in stages. It's partly done, but there's more to go. When Jesus came to this earth, he was born, he came to this earth, he had a three-year ministry. He started binding the strong man at that point, casting demons out of people that had inhabited them. Several accounts of that. There's six accounts in the Gospels of Jesus casting demons out of people. So that's when the binding began. Then on the cross, the death of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ guaranteed the binding of Jesus.
For Paul, in Colossians, chapter 2, said that Jesus made a spectacle out of these spirits, the demon world, made a spectacle, triumphing over them in his death at the cross. So he guaranteed his future binding, his future dismantling of his kingdom. That's the second stage. The third stage will come in the millennial kingdom, the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth when in Revelation 20 it says that Satan is bound for a thousand years. He is kept in the Abyss. And then afterwards he will be let go, but he will be cast eventually into the lake of fire. That will be the final and ultimate binding of Satan. So Satan is, in a sense, bound now. And I know what you're saying, "Boy, if he's bound now, he's got an awfully long chain."
And I would agree with you, because it would seem like Satan is inspiring atrocities around this earth that can only be accounted for by attributing them to a work of the Devil. When you cut people's heads off in the name of God that can only be done, I believe, by a satanic deception. So, Satan is bound, but boy does he have a long chain, and sometimes I wish it were much shorter. I've told the Lord this, but he knows what he's doing. He is guaranteed his future incarceration and destruction. "'When an unclean spirit'", just looking at how much time we have as we go through it. You know me, I plan to go through one and two chapters, but good luck.
"'When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, "I will return to my house from which I came." And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and he takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.'" This means one of two things. Number one, Jesus is describing what actually happens when a demon-possessed man is delivered from a demon. So that here's a man, his body is the house, and he's been housing the demon who's living in there. He's, like, the host of the demon. The demon is expelled. Now that person is very vulnerable.
And if that person does not ask the Lord to invade that house, to come in and take control, that person is going to end up worse than he was before. That demon is going to come back with his buddies, because they know of a great place to hang out and live. And that deception, that incarceration, that intoxication gets worse and worse and worse. That's one possibility. The other possibility, some believe that Jesus was using this metaphorically to speak of the nation of Israel. That Israel in the Old Testament had been incarcerated, so to speak, by the Devil and were idol worshipers, but they were taken into captivity for seventy years in Babylon. When they came back to Jerusalem to rebuild after the seventy years, virtually cured them of idolatry. They never lapsed into that kind of idolatry ever again.
But then John the Baptist came on the scene announcing the kingdom of God and a baptism of remission and repentance, pointing to Jesus. But many of those in the nation of Israel refused to invite Christ as their Messiah, refused to let him into the house. So, Jesus came knocking on the door of the house of Israel, but they would have nothing to do with him. So in the future, the deception that will take place in that land will be much worse. And all you have to do is look in the book of Revelation or read the Sermon on the Mount of Olives, Matthew 24, and we have described a man who will come upon the earth. He goes by fifty names. We usually call him the Antichrist. He deceives the entire world, but he deceives especially the people of Israel.
And they enter into a covenant, and he breaks the covenant. And that is called the worst of worst, the abomination that causes desolation, because it takes place in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. And that could be metaphorically what Jesus is saying. Because do you recall our Lord once said, "I come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me; another will come in his own name, him you will receive." Sorry, the catalog gets a little slow. "I come in my Father's name. You didn't receive me. I knocked on the door of the house of Israel. You wouldn't let me in. John the Baptist proclaimed it, but all you did is settle for social reform, not spiritual birth." And if you try to change your life just by a set of social reforms without inviting Jesus Christ inside where there's spiritual regeneration, there's no power.
"And it happened, as he spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said", now listen to this. It sounds like somebody shouting it out in a praise and worship service. And there's somebody there listening, and the crowd's listening, and one person there hears it and shouts this out: "'Blessed is the womb that bore you; and the breasts that nursed you!'" Who's this person speaking of? Mary, the Virgin Mary. This is one of the first instances of Mary worship, somebody trying to say, "Blessed is she..." And she was blessed. Please, I am not detracting from her. Mary was the most blessed woman on the earth. She birthed the Messiah. And, by the way, you who grew up with a prayer like I did, the Hail Mary, the first part of it is right out of the Bible. Second part, however, is not. The first part is biblical. It's right out of the Gospels.
"Blessed art thou among woman. Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus." She was blessed above all other women. The second part, however, is where it goes bad. "Holy Mary, Mother of God. Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen." So here's a person shouting out to worship Mary, and notice Jesus' response. Jesus didn't say, "Yes, that's right. Amen. You better remember that." Jesus said, "He said, 'More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!'" Do you hear what he was saying? He's saying this: even Mary his own earthly mother is more blessed for believing in Jesus than for being the mother of Jesus. "Those who hear the word of God and keep it!" and believe it. Amazing. You're blessed tonight because you're hearing the Word of God and by God's grace you will keep it. "And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, he began to say", before we get into what he's going to begin to say, we're going to look at that next time and see what else he has to say. Until then, let's not pout, let's pray.
Father, thank you for just the sheer joy of sitting in your presence with brothers and sisters in this living room, in this simple house, a house that has been filled with praise. Our hearts were tenderized and invigorated by the songs that we participated in. And then to hear truth, the words of Jesus himself, and apply them to us, to see how they were applied then and what they could mean now. Because of that, Lord, we have faith and our faith is increased. "For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Thank you, Lord, for hungry hearts who make sure that their week has within it a night of studying the word of truth. Lord, would you bless them, because you said in your Word you are a rewarder of those who diligently seek you. Thank you that you are our Father and that in heaven you see everything and you know it all, that you created all that we see, so there's nothing too hard for you. We pray, Lord, that your kingdom would be set up in our hearts and our lives, that your will would be done wherever we go, whatever we're a part of, for your glory, in Jesus' name, amen.