Are you going to be gathered in or scattered?

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 
Praise God
Praise God for the privilege of public worship.  Praise God for the desire he gives us to hunger and thirst after all righteousness. Praise God that the more we engage with him, the more he satisfies us; and the more satisfied we become, the more we hunger and thirst for righteousness. Praise God that there is a day when we will hunger and thirst no more, for we will be in the presence of Jesus. Rev. 7:16.
 
Acknowledge Sin
Acknowledge and confess the sin of seasons of wavering in the desire to hunger and thirst. Pray for God's daily help to do so.



Please read Luke 11:14-23    Are you going to be gathered in or scattered?
Seek the help of the Holy Spirit as you turn to read his Word. 
 
Once again, the incident described isn't set in its chronological context. I keep pointing this out so that you will begin to develop a sense of who Luke is and how he approaches things. That is helpful not only for understanding this gospel but also when you study another gospel in terms of comparison. 
 
The opposition to Jesus now begins to step up. Up to this point, Luke has been telling us about how Jesus' preaching and miracles have been on the whole positively received. We have repeatedly seen how the crowds have been flocking to see and hear him. It's not that there wasn't opposition before; we had already seen it when Jesus healed the paralytic man who was let down through his roof in Capernaum. But things now begin to take a turn for the worse. Those who do not like what Jesus is doing are beginning to find their voice with increasing intensity and viciousness, as we’ll now see. It is the spiritual warfare that Jesus is engaged in which provides the pretext for their assault on him. 
 
Matthew, Mark and Luke, the Synoptic gospels, all show the presence of this opposition by way of Jesus' casting out of demons. It was something he frequently did, which isn't surprising given that Satan and his cohorts were going to throw all they could at Jesus, to try and destroy him. It is also something that was out in the public domain. People could see what was going on; even those who despised Jesus, and what he was doing, couldn't deny what they were witnessing. The issue, though, for them, was how they were going to explain it. This portion of God's Word opens a window into their thinking. 
 
V14. The miracle.
Luke records the miracle, but not in any great detail. He records it merely because it forms the context for what follows. Luke tells us that Jesus cast a demon out of a man who could not speak. Matthew tells us that the man was also blind, Matthew 12:22. After the demon is cast out by Jesus, he is able to speak and see, Matthew 12:22. That is all we are told about this man, but what a change it must have brought to his life. It is remarkable to think that he woke that morning not being able to see anything and not being able to speak with anyone; and that night he climbed into his bed, which he could see, having said 'good night' to those living with him, assuming he didn't live on his own. His encounter with Jesus changed his life. So it is with everyone who meets Jesus. Yes, there may not be physical healing, but the new life that comes by faith in Jesus brings its own phenomenal healing for this life and eternity. 
 
As ever, when Jesus did a miracle, the crowds were astonished. How could you not be, witnessing something like that? But there were some, Pharisees and Scribes from Jerusalem, Matthew 12:24 and Mark 3:22, who, while noting what had happened, had a different view than the crowd. They, of course, couldn't do what many modern Bible 'scholars' do, and question the literary accuracy of the text,' i.e., say it was a made-up story for the sake of making some point. They had to accept the reality of it because they had just witnessed it, but that didn't mean that they were going to accept that, because Jesus had done it, he was the Son of God. They couldn't, for if they had, they would have to accept him as the Messiah, and he certainly didn't fit the profile they had created over the centuries of what the Messiah would be. So, if Jesus didn't fit the profile, then there could only be one alternative; he had to be working with Beelzebub. (Regarding the term 'Beelzebub', the commentators say the same general thing. Here is a sentence summary from one of them, Leon Morris. "Our best understanding of the evidence seems to be that the Jews took this name of a heathen god (elsewhere 'a Canaanite deity') and understood it as similar-sounding to the Hebrew, 'lord of dung'. They applied it to a prominent demon, perhaps to Satan himself. Jesus clearly understood it as referring to Satan.") 
 
For these Pharisees and Scribes from Jerusalem, it was simple; Jesus was working hand in hand with the devil. The devil would send a demon into a person's life, causing them all sorts of problems. Jesus would come along and tell the demon to leave. The devil would call the demon back, and Jesus would be left taking the applause. It was obvious that this was what was happening. How else could it be explained?  
 
V16. Show us a sign
Others, equally hostile and agreeing that this was the only plausible suggestion, asked Jesus to 'clear up' the issue by giving them a sign from heaven. Luke doesn't address Jesus' response until later in the chapter, i.e., verse 23, but we will come to it either tomorrow or on Wednesday, unless you want to read on and see for yourself what Jesus says.
 
V17. Knowing their thoughts
Evidently, these comments were made just among the Pharisees and the Scribes as they grumbled among themselves. But Jesus knows what they were thinking, and he answers their unspoken statements, well at least to him.
 
Again, Jesus' logic is simple. Life is simple; it is the devil who complicates it in his attempt to bring chaos and disruption. The principal of a divided kingdom or household working together for the same goals is irrational. It just makes no sense. It is untenable. We see that even in a simple way in the constant failure of political parties to work in a bipartisan manner. The only time such a scenario works is if the nation is at war. If the conflict is such that one part of the kingdom is determined to overthrow the other part by whatever means, then there is a civil war, and the nation will fall. The point is self-evident – if Satan is divided against himself, then how can his kingdom stand/continue? If Satan sent demons into men to war against Jesus, and then he called them back when Jesus commanded so that people would be amazed at Jesus, where is the sense in that?
 
We shouldn't be surprised by the fact that when men are determined to disown who Christ is, the statements that they make about him are nonsense. Just because they may have positions of authority, or have degrees after their name, doesn't make it any less nonsense. 
 
V19. What about your guys who are doing exorcisms?
The second proof that this is nonsense rests on the first. The “sons” Jesus is referring to are the young men who graduated in the practice of exorcism from the schools of the Pharisees and the Scribes. We know nothing about how these Jewish exorcisms were conducted or the success rate they had, but Jewish exorcism was practised. The point Jesus is making is again straightforward – if you say that I am casting out demons by working with the devil, then what does that say about how your guys are doing it. They must be doing the same thing, so where does that leave you and your accusation? 
 
V20. One option.
So that leaves us with only one option. The casting out of demons is the work of God, not Satan. Jesus' point is made. His work is being done in God's power, and that has to lead to the inevitable conclusion that the Kingdom of God is present. This driving out of demons means that God is at work in their midst. What they are witnessing is what they have been looking for all their lives. But the problem they are facing is that the profiling of who they were expecting the Messiah to be is so wide of the mark that they just can't see him, even though he is being revealed before their very eyes. 
 
V21. The victory is complete.
The illustration is self-explanatory. Satan is powerful, that is not in doubt, but Jesus is far more powerful. Satan can do all he wants to defend his cause, to guard his empire, and he will be successful in doing so, up and until the day that Jesus comes along and says, 'I am having that'. And what Jesus says, 'I am having', Jesus will have. The victory is complete. 
 
V22. Whose side are you on?
The choice is simple, just as the explanation has been simple, just as the illustration has been simple. 'Whose side are you on?', Jesus asks. There are only two options. You can either choose Jesus or Satan. The Victor or the vanquished. There is no neutral zone. You either 'gather in' with Jesus, or you end up being scattered with Satan. Being gathered in affords comfort, peace, protection, and provision. Being scattered is not a place you want to be. Don't make the wrong choice!


A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 73C - Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.



Memory Verse.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word. 
Matthew 6:9-11
"Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread,"
 


Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 81 - What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
Answer – The tenth commandment forbids all discontent with our own state; envying and grieving at the good of our neighbour, together with all ungoverned longings and desires for things that belong to him.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
 

Thank God.
Thank God for the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank God that we can be taken out of the dominion of sin and Satan, and be set free to love and live for the Lord Jesus Christ. 
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew 
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC