December 4, 2020
Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons" (Matthew 12:24).
Beelzebub/Baal-zebub was a pagan Philistine demon/god worshiped in the city of Ekron in Old Testament times. The name means ‘lord of flies’ (2 Kings 1:2). After the time of the Philistines, the Jews changed the name to ‘Beelzeboul’, meaning ‘lord of dung’. Some biblical scholars believe Beelzebub was also known as the ‘god of filth’. So Beelzebub was a particularly contemptible demon, and his name was used by the Jews as an epithet for Satan.
In our text Jesus healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. As a result the people were astonished, affirming Jesus as the Messiah. When the Pharisees heard this they said it was the work of Satan. They should have known better because Satan cannot do good works. But in their arrogance and pride the Pharisees condemned Jesus because their popularity and influence over the people was waning.
Is there anything we can learn from this today? Yes. In Matthew 10 Jesus revealed to us the essence of what it means to be His disciple. In sending out His Apostles to preach the Gospel, He gave them specific instructions on what to do and what not to do. He warned them, beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues . . . you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. Then He said, A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! (Matthew 10:24-25).
The point is, if people called Jesus a devil, as the Pharisees did, they will also call His disciples the same. In John 15:18-21 Jesus said, If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
Two-thousand years have passed, and people are still calling Jesus everything other than who He truly is - the crucified, resurrected, glorified Son of God; the Lord and Savior of all who believe in Him. In our culture Jesus is scorned and ignored; His followers are looked upon as fools and out of touch with the real world. Pharisees live among us today - government officials, cultural leaders, and Christ-less religionists. God help us to remain faithful to Jesus in these days.
“Lord God, keep our eyes focused on Jesus and not on those popular in today’s culture. Keep our feet firmly planted in the truth of Your Word. Keep our hearts burning with a passion to exalt Jesus and to declare His name and His Gospel to all we meet. I do not ask to be popular among men. I ask to be faithful to You and Your Kingdom’s work. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”