Matthew 12:22-32

This morning we take up another great occasion for the antithesis to occur.  David’s greater Son had arrived to take dominion of all that His Father had given Him, and the Judaistic system was the very antithesis of His reign.  And the Pharisees were the concrete center of the spiritual warfare which was going on cosmically.

This passage of Scripture alludes to a couple of very big issues – one of which is the binding of Satan which we’ll look at from the twentieth chapter of John’s Revelation.

But Jesus uses another healing, a concrete historical act of mercy, to once again illustrate all of the things which were now happening:  first, that all men are absolutely depraved and have no hope of being otherwise; secondly, that the Pharisees were incompetent and unfaithful shepherds who had left the sheep in this hopeless abyss of darkness; thirdly, the Good Shepherd, the Son of David, had arrived; fourthly, that the Kingdom of Christ had arrived; and, fifthly, Christ was beginning now to put all His enemies under His feet – starting with the separation of the entire hypocritical religious system of the Jews, and including the binding of Satan-and-his-influence in Christ’s Kingdom!

The first three verses of the passage, twenty-two through twenty-four, although a very specific, historical event, are used by Matthew to set up the confrontation with the Pharisees during which all of this comes out.  Now, I’m not suggesting that the incident with this poor man isn’t important – it is!  But Matthew’s language indicates that he uses it as incidental to the real purpose of his text which is, of course, the antithetical confrontation with the Pharisees, during which Jesus verbally reveals the binding of Satan.

You can see that Matthew’s language is shortened in order to get to the real purpose.  The first verse is even strange to the ears because of it. 


“Then was brought to Him one having a demon, blind and dumb; and He healed him so that the deaf-mute to speak and to see.” 


“Deaf mute to speak and to see.”  The “incidentalness” of the healing event itself comes out in the fact that Matthew has removed all of the relevant historical factualness of it and makes it sound like it’s one in a category.

And, in fact, we don’t see the little word that he so often uses in order to illustrate that the event itself is a sign of more cosmic significance.  He doesn’t say, “Lo, a blind deaf-mute who was demon possessed.”  So the event of the healing itself is incidental to the confrontation with the hypocrite Pharisees – during which comes the revelation of demonic binding.

Verse twenty-three is also incidental, because the continual astonishment of the crowds, and their usage of the term, “Son of David” with reference to Jesus, was the impetus for the Pharisees to come, verse twenty-three, and accuse Jesus of being in collusion with, and in union with, the worst of the demons – Beelzeboul!

The “Son of David” term being used by the crowds with reference to Jesus indicates that some now were being convinced that He was David’s greater Son, Who was the heir to the throne promised by God through the prophets, and that He was their Messiah!

And the Pharisees were becoming very aware of the growing crowds; and they were cognizant of the sentiment among the people; and, too, they heard the things that were being said about Jesus.  So they began to spread the vicious rumor again – the same one – about Jesus’ miracles being in connection with the chief of the demons.

Now, if you remember from the middle of chapter ten where this demon was first named, you’ll also recall that Beelzeboul is the name given to the worst of them all.  It was a name that Jews used to describe the most wretched creature in the universe.

There was a lot of magic and mysticism and babbling and occult practice and astrological prophecies and pronouncements of cursings – and the like – going on at this time in Israel; and the population was well aware of what it meant when the leadership of Israel used the term Beelzeboul with reference to Jesus.  It wasn’t an unusual thing for the leadership of the nation to condemn movements that were at cross-purposes to their positions by using this name.

But, remarkably, the Pharisees and the priests of Israel had, among themselves, their own exorcists!  And they even used witchcraft and charms which contained the names of demons!  One method which I read included the use of a root of some kind which was magically attached through the nose of the demon which was pulled out of the one who was possessed!

We have one instance recorded in Scripture – Acts chapter nineteen – where a chief priest of Israel was an exorcist!  And he had seven sons who, with him, were involved in the practice.  Like father, like son, he was not only an example, but the teacher.  And in that Acts account, they were all trying to practice demon exorcisms by using the name of Jesus as their magic incantation!  But that passage says that the demon spoke to them and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?”  And the possessed man leaped at the men and tore their clothes off and beat them!

Now, I just wanted to make the point, because of verse twenty-seven here, that exorcisms in connection with demons and witchcraft and magic were very common among the Pharisees and Sadducees and priests of Israel.  And that’s why Jesus answered the Pharisees the way He did in this verse – twenty-seven.  Listen to it again: 


“And if I, by Beelzeboul, cast out demons, your sons – by whom are they casting them out?  For this they shall be your judges!”


By this question Jesus exposes the Pharisees’ hypocrisy.  They’re accusing Him of acting in connection with demons – Satan – and they’re trying to turn the minds and hearts of the multitudes against Jesus by slandering Him and exciting the passions of the people; but they’re the ones who are actually practicing demonic exorcisms!  What a desperate, hypocritical self-contradiction to claim that Jesus had an alliance with Beelzeboul and was casting down demons in connection with him, but that the Pharisees and their associates (sons) were truly practicing magic exorcisms!

Jesus then tells them that their own associates will convict them at the bar of justice of their hypocrisy.  “For this they shall be your judges,” He says.  Your sons will judge you harshly for your example and teaching!  (magic, occult practices, ungodly idolatry)

Then Jesus continues here in verse twenty-eight: 


“But if, by the Spirit of God, I am casting out demons, then the Kingdom of God has advanced upon you.” 


Now, right here I want to spend some time in the first few verses of Revelation chapter twenty, because it has to do with the casting down of the demons and the binding of Satan.  And a proper interpretation of it will help us to see the major issue in this eleven verse confrontation with the Pharisees.

Here’s what it says: 


“And I saw an Angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in His hand.  And He laid hold of the Dragon, the Serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”


In the symbolic and cosmic language of the Revelation of St. John, we see the Lord Jesus Christ arriving to claim what God the Father has delivered over to Him – the Kingdom!  The Kingdom of God; the Kingdom of Heaven – now Christ’s Kingdom!  And the victory is to be gained by His obedience.  The great antithesis between the Kingdom and the prince of the powers of the air is seen over and over again as Jesus, in complete obedience to His Father’s will, demonstrates that the Kingdom has advanced upon them, and His Power spells their immediate defeat!

At the forty-day temptation in the desert, Christ refused to submit to the temptations of Satan – even when He was offered dominion over all the nations of the earth!  But, according to the will of God the Father, Jesus was to win dominion over all the nations by His quiet and humble submission.  Obedience!  That was the beginning victory of the Kingdom.  Christ had asserted Himself over Satan, and it was the beginning of many more instances where His Power was proved.

And not only was His Power and the coming of the Kingdom proved by His casting down of the demons, but it was also proved by the manner in which the devils behaved in His presence!  When Jesus approached, they raised a cry of fear.  And they showed that they had a supernatural knowledge of Him and the great significance of His Coming.  They call Him “the Holy One of God,” and “the Son of God” and “Son of the Most High God” – recognizing His Messianic dignity.  They consider His “Coming” as their own destruction; and their torment.  They feel powerless and try only to lengthen their existence on earth; and they implore Him not to send them into “the deep,” or to send them “under.”  In the Person of the Christ – in the flesh – the Kingdom has become a present reality! (advanced upon you)

In the Luke chapter ten passage, the apostles were full of joy that the powers of the air were subject to the power of Jesus.  And that’s when Christ said, “I beheld Satan as lightning falls from heaven.”  Jesus saw with His Own eyes that Satan had fallen with great force from his position as Prince of the world order.  His rule over darkness was breaking down as the Kingdom of Heaven was advancing!  And the disciples’ ability to tread on serpents and scorpions, in the Name of Christ, was indication that the power of the enemy and his instruments of destruction had been placed under the feet of men!  The flesh of Christ had provided the flesh of men to trod down the demonic forces of the world order!

Now, verse three of the Revelation twenty passage says that “Satan was bound so that he should not deceive the nations any longer.”  His death-grip of darkness over the population of the earth has been shattered by the Coming of Christ and by the preaching of the Word of the Kingdom.  As Paul says in Romans fifteen, verse twelve, “Christ came to rule over the Gentiles.”  And in Acts twenty-six, Christ sent Paul to the Gentile nations, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.”

Satan is unable to prevent the victory of Christ’s Kingdom.  He is bound in his ability to deceive the nations until the maturity of the Kingdom has come to pass by the preaching and obedience of faithful men in Christ.  He is actively thrashing around in the throes of demonic madness, attempting to bring the nations together to make war against the Kingdom, but he is restricted from achieving success, and he is trodden upon by Christ’s people as we push the gates of the abyss further and further away!

Now, I think that it’s very interesting, here in twenty-nine, that Matthew has used a word that we’ve seen once already (in a totally different context) in order to describe the plundering of Satan’s house.  Listen to it again: 


“Or how is anyone able to enter into the house of the strong and snatch away his goods unless first he bind the strong?  And then he shall thoroughly snatch away his goods!”


The word which I’m referring to here is “snatch away.”  If you remember, Matthew records it in chapter eleven when Jesus was speaking of the violent, rapacious wolves who attempt to “snatch away” the Kingdom from the covenant seed.

But here Jesus turns it around on them and uses it with reference to the house of Satan rather than to the house of Israel!  Satan has failed in His four or five thousand year attempt to halt the advance of the Kingdom.  By murder and incest and rape and lies and deceptions there was an endless attempt to somehow cut off the covenant so that Christ’s Kingdom would not be established.  There was even that face to face confrontation to get the Second Adam to disobey His Father.  And then he caused the gathering of nations in a giant conspiracy to murder Him!

But nothing worked!  Even the temptations to disobey didn’t work like they did with the first Adam!  And even the crucifixion was a trick (where Satan was concerned) to raise the Son of God to a position of dominion and power!

For thousands of years the whole world was a desert wasteland – inhabited by serpents and scorpions and birds of prey, a place of no light – only darkness, void and shapeless and chaotic; an abyss of hopelessness where the demonic forces of the world order held dominion over the earth.

But when Jesus came, in the flesh of men, and perfectly submitted to His Father in obedience, Satan’s dominion over the flesh of men was broken!  As Jesus says here in twenty-nine, He “entered into the strong man’s house!”  He came into Satan’s house – in the flesh of man – into the abyss of darkness and depravity.  He entered it in all of its chaos and rebellion and waste, and, by obedience, He broke the line of seminal and representative depravity given to men through Adam! And Satan was crushed in his ability to exercise dominion any longer!

Jesus says that He entered into that house of the strong, and He bound Him!  Satan’s dominion over flesh was bound!  He could no longer do anything about it!  And, now, as Jesus says here in the last part of the verse, He’s snatching away His goods!  In other words, now that Satan is bound, Jesus is inside Satan’s house, his abode, and He’s snatching away all that belongs to him!

Satan has held sway over all the peoples of the earth – all the kingdoms, all the peoples, all the institutions – for they have had his nature!  They had all been sinful and rebellious and unclean just as he is!

But, now, all flesh isn’t under his dominion!  For Jesus did not submit to him!  He obeyed His Father!  And, in the flesh, Jesus has claimed that all the kingdoms of the earth are His by inheritance from His Father, and He is going to snatch them all away from the strong one who holds them; and they are His by right!  And, as He says here, He will thoroughly snatch them away.

So, as we come to verse thirty, the antithesis has been cast in the strongest way possible.  It’s God’s anointed King binding Satan in His deception of the world, taking the world away from Satan and submitting it to His Father.  And He says, then –


“and the one who isn’t with Me is against Me, and the one who isn’t gathering with Me is scattering!”


Jesus is plundering, or snatching away, everything in Satan’s house, and He says to the Pharisees, if you aren’t doing that with Me you’re against Me!  If you’re sitting back watching Him, and condemning Him, you’re against Him!  And if you aren’t gathering these goods up with Him, you’re scattering them!  That last, of course, is another reference to the evil shepherds of the house of Israel, for they were thoroughly involved in scattering the lost sheep of the house of Israel rather than holding and watching them for the Good Shepherd!  Jesus was gathering the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

So Jesus has condemned the leadership of Israel for their complicity with the house of Satan.  They aren’t with Jesus in plundering Satan’s house, so they’re against Him.  They had scattered the sheep for centuries!

And then Jesus puts the capper on this confrontation concerning demonic authority by accusing them (the Pharisees) of unforgivable blasphemy!  The nation of Israel and its leadership are condemned without reprieve!  Their sin will not be remitted.  Sin will be remitted to men all over the world – the nations will repent – but Israel’s false shepherds shall go unforgiven.  And not only does Christ withhold forgiveness from them in the old heaven and earth, but also in the New Heavens and the New Earth – His Kingdom – the one “about to be,” as it says at the end of verse thirty-two.

And the reason He gives for that is that they have accused the Spirit of Jesus’ Father as being Beelzeboul.  For Jesus has said, in verse twenty-eight, that His casting down of demonic forces is by God’s Spirit!  God has put His Spirit upon His Son in the flesh, and it is by His Spirit that Jesus has bound the strong and is busily snatching away his household!  And it is blasphemy against the Spirit of God to attribute His work to the chief of all demons!  Jesus will not allow His Father’s Spirit to be blasphemed.

Now, lastly, I want to encourage you all again to faith.  Jesus said that He has released (freed) the nations from the dominion of Satan.  And in His flesh we now tread upon serpents and scorpions – desert creatures – the instruments of Satanic destruction.  He said that He has bound Satan so that he can no longer deceive the people of the world, and that our Lord is snatching away his household goods!  Then, at the end, He says, “if you’re not with Me, you’re against Me!”  That’s a direct accusation of Israel’s false shepherds!

Now, I see these words as just about as clear as any in all of Scripture!  And if you don’t believe what He says here, then I think you’re as close to being against Him as you can be!

If you do believe Him, then the faithing aught to follow!  In other words, where’s the obedience?  If Jesus has done all these things, and Satan is restricted from doing irreparable harm to you and your Kingdom efforts, then why are you languishing?  Why are you down-hearted?  What are you waiting for?  Why are you all tied up with petty irritations and squabbling – which drain off energies?  Why are “world order” issues siphoning off Christian energy and efforts” Those who aren’t gathering with Him are “scattering.”

It’s high time to begin thinking about important things.  To begin doing important things.  Are you with Him – or against Him?  This passage portrays our Lord’s work, and His Kingdom in such a magnificent way, that we should be stimulated to hope, and zeal, and optimism!  And Faithfulness!