The healing of the blind and dumb, and the false accusation of the scribes

In our last study, we dealt with  Luke chapter 7.  When we come to the beginning of chapter 8, there are certain things we have to fit, in conjunction with the first three verses, which are followed by the Parable of the Sower.  It seems that there are certain other events, not recorded in Luke, which took place before Jesus spoke the Parable of the Sower.

Let us turn to Mark 3:19.  We see from this verse that immediately after Jesus had chosen the twelve Apostles, “they went into an house”.  Possibly whilst Jesus was in the house, he healed one possessed with a devil, which is recorded in Matthew 12:22-23:

“Then was brought unto him one possessed of a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch as the blind and dumb both spake and saw.”

We need to enter into the situation, brethren and sisters.  This poor man was both blind and dumb.  He could neither see nor speak.  How frustrating and lonely this man’s life must have been.  But they brought him to the Master who was always full of compassion, and Jesus healed him.  The marvel of the miracle was that he did not have to learn to speak.  He immediately spoke.  But as with the healing of the man with the withered hand, Jesus had done good, but his enemies had evil thoughts towards him.  Sadly, now, even his brethren were opposing him, as we see from Mark 3:21:

“and when his friends (marg. Kinsmen, his relatives) heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself”

His own brethren accused him of madness.  From verse 31 of Mark it seems that even Jesus’s mother was with them:

“There came then his brethren and his mother, and standing without, sent unto him, calling him”.

They were possibly influenced by the accusations of the scribes and Pharisees, as we see from the words of the scribes in Mark 3:22 (note verse 21):

“And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.”

These accusations go back earlier.  We read of them in Matthew 9:34, and 10:25, where Jesus said:

“it is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.  If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household”.

Who was Beelzebub?  The name is of Chaldee origin.  The Greek version of the name means “the dung god”.  The Hebrew version of the name means, “Baal or Lord of the fly”.  It was a special deity of the Ekronites.  We read of this god in 2 Kings 1:2-3.  Let us turn to this:

“And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, God, enquire of Beelzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover from this disease.  But he angel of Yahweh  said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, got to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a god in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Beelzebub the god of Ekron?  Now therefore thus saith Yahweh, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shall surely die.  And Elijah departed.

When the king realised that it was Elijah who had sent this message to him, he sent to him three companies of 50 men, each with their captain.  The first two companies were destroyed by “the fire of God”.  The captain of the third company completely submitted to Elijah, and God told the prophet, he showed a better attitude, and the angel of Yahweh told Elijah to go with the captain to the king, whereupon he spoke to the king:

“Thus saith Yahweh, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Beelzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word?  Therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.  So he died according to the word of Yahweh which Elijah had spoken.” (Verses 16-17).

In this chapter, we see the power of Yahweh over the false god Beelzebub.  Moreover, we see that there was a conflict between the spirit of God in Elijah, and this false god, as there was with Jesus.  In both, the cases of Elijah and Jesus, they did not recognise that they came from the true God.

The opposition against the Lord Jesus Christ was mounting, as we see from this serious accusation they made against him.  Christ had done a good work in healing the blind and dumb man, but they attributed it to the Baal, or Lord of the dung heap.  This was blasphemy against Yahweh.  Christ then called them unto him and showed them up in front of the multitude.

“and he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?  And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.  No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house” (Mark. 3:23-27).

Matthew adds the words:

“And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out?  Therefore they shall be your judges.  But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you … He that is not with me is against; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

These last words form the key to what Jesus was saying in parables.  Jesus was seeking the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  Because the scribes and Pharisees gathered not with him, they and their followers were scattered abroad in AD 70.  Jesus represented the kingdom of God.  He was the Royal Majesty of God, as the word kingdom (basilea) means.  We can understand a little better what Jesus is saying if we turn to Luke 10:17-19, were it is recorded that Jesus sent the seventy out and they performed mighty works in his name in healing the sick, and we read:

“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.  And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven.  Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

Sin and disease are here personified as the adversary, or Satan.  Jesus had power over sin and disease, as he showed in his words, “I beheld Satan (the adversary) as lightening fall from heaven.”  Hence his question, “if you say I am healing diseases by the prince of devils, How can Satan cast out Satan?”  The kingdom of God and the house of God was divided.  There was Jesus, the Royal Majesty of God on the one hand, and the scribes and Pharisees and the rulers of Israel on the other hand.  The Satan, the adversary was rising up against him, therefore they could not stand, but would come to an end in AD70.  Jesus was the strong man, as we saw from those words in Luke 10; he had power over the enemy.  He would first bind the strong man, i.e. sin, through his sacrificial death and resurrection, and then through the medium of the Roman armies “spoil his house”.  This is spoken of in Daniel 9:26:

“and after threescore and two weeks (of years, i.e. 434 years) shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined”.

The “people of the prince” were the Roman armies which Jesus used in AD70 to destroy Jerusalem or spoil the strong man’s house.

Jesus then showed up the scribes in front of the multitudes for what they had done:

“Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.  Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit”

By saying that Jesus healed diseases by the Lord of the dung hill, they were in effect saying that Jesus had an unclean spirit.  This was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit power with which Jesus had been filled—and there was never forgiveness for them.  They were doomed to judgment in AD 70.

But Jesus continued, no doubt with these men in mind in Matthew 12:33-35:

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good: or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by his fruit.  O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?  For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.”

The scribes and the Pharisees were clearly the seed of the serpent.  They reasoned according to the flesh, therefore they could not speak good things.  Jesus’s words in Matthew 6 have a bearing on this, particularly verse 19:

“for where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”

Similarly, the words of Paul in Colossians 3:1-4:

“if ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

This is where our heart should be.  But the scribes with all their religious profession were, as Jesus said, a “generation of vipers” and their heart was full of evil things as manifested to their attitude to Jesus.  So Jesus continues:

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (verses 36-37).

These words need to be read in conjunction with Romans 14:12:

“so then every one of us shall give account of himself before God”.

The sense of the word “idle” is lazy, or useless.  It is rendered “barren” in 1 Peter 1:8:

“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

These words apply to those attributes in verses 5-7.  The words that we speak should be fruitful words, not barren words.  How circumspect we need to be in what we say, brethren and sisters.  One day, perhaps very soon we shall have to stand before the judgment seat of the Master.  We shall not be able to blame others for our actions, nor shall we be able to say that we have done things because others have done them.  We shall have to stand there alone and give account of ourselves.

May we be guided by the words of Psalm 19:9-14:

“The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them is great reward.  Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins, let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Yahweh, my strength and my redeemer”.

Carlo Barberesi