Date: 17 July 2022
Sermon Text: Luke 11:14-36
Speaker: Ps Daniel Tan
Blessed Sunday to all.
It was good to have nearly 200 of us at the hotel ballroom last Sunday. Looking forward to having us all here in Henderson soon.
We have taken a break for 3 weeks over our sermon series of Luke’s Gospel in June.
Over 2 Sundays, we looked together at what it meant to be a spiritual family. How we can as a community of faith support our nuclear families and our singles.
I pray that we were all encouraged by the gift of the church family that God has provide for us in Hermon.
Last week at our anniversary, I shared about spiritual CPF. That what we should continue to do, is for Christ to be Proclaimed Faithfully.
Now this is in line with our church mission statement – to glorify God by being and making disciples of Christ Jesus.
As disciples of Christ, may I refer us all to Ps Luwin’s editorial today. It is about the implication of the reversal of Roe vs Wade at the Supreme Courts in the US.
If Christ is to be Proclaimed Faithfully, what is the implication on us as believers to the sanctity of human life? Not only to the unborn but for all mankind?
Ps Luwin makes the point that we should not only be pro-life but pro-eternal life.
And I submit, it dovetails with Christ Proclaimed Faithfully. That is why as a church we proclaim Christ, for we are pro-eternal life.
Now to be pro-eternal life, it means we have acknowledge that we have become citizens of heaven. Part of the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
And the thing is, does kingdom life start only when we are called home to glory? Or does it already start now here on earth?
That’s something which Luke the Gospel writer was trying to impress upon this person called Theophilus. So Luke’s gospel was written because:
Lk 1:3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
So, in our passage today, it is to have the certainty about how we perceive the kingdom of Jesus and how is that in relation to the reign of Satan here on earth.
The reign of Satan - who is the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2) and the ruler of the world (Jn 16:11), is being attacked.
For the Kingdom of Jesus has been inaugurated with His incarnation.
It’s breaking in and conquering (v14 to v26)
Let’s begin with exploring v14 to v26. Do we perceive that the kingdom of Jesus is breaking in and conquering?
Lk 11:14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven.
Beelzebul, the prince of demons is another reference to Satan. And when Jesus delivers this man from bondage, we see 3 different reactions.
There were those who marvelled at the healing and deliverance. There were others who instead accused Jesus of using Satanic magic and finally there were sceptics who says, we are not convinced, show us a sign from heaven.
In our text today, we will see how Jesus respond to these 3 groups of people.
In this first section, from v14 to v26, I submit that Jesus is responding primarily to those who are accusing Him of doing Satanic magic, of casting out the demon by the power of Beelzebul.
Jesus gives logical reasons why he cannot be casting out the demon by Beelzebul.
Firstly, in v17 & 18, Jesus says, it is not possible that He is casting out the demon in the name of Satan for that would be a civil war.
That would be internal conflict in the kingdom of Satan and when that happens, a divided household will collapse upon itself.
We do see today, how weak a country becomes isn’t it when there is internal strife. Think of the civil wars in the US and tribal conflicts in African continent. Even the conflict currently in certain countries in the region.
Secondly, in v19, Jesus throws back the question to them. There are others who also cast out demons, are they also doing so in the name of Beelzebul? It can’t be right? That’s absurd.
No, Jesus is the stronger man that has come to defeat Satan in his domain here on earth. And that is what v21 and 22 is saying.
The kingdom of God has penetrated into time and space and it is now attacking and overcoming the kingdom of Satan.
Jesus says it is by the ‘finger of God’ that He cast out demons. This phased is first used in Exodus by the Egyptian magicians.
Ex 8:18 The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
The finger of God is exclaimed by the magicians when they could not replicate the 3rd plague that Moses did. So, this expression means the power of God over all creation.
During this period June to Aug, a significant battle was fought on the shores of Normandy in France. This was 78 years ago. And it begun with the D-Day landing on 6 June 1944.
The D-Day landings on Normandy beaches was very significant. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the Germans. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.
Remember what Jesus said to the 72 when they came back from their mission?
Lk 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Theophilus, Luke is saying, with the arrival of Jesus, God’s kingdom is advancing. With the casting out of demons, Jesus is attacking. This is the beginning of the end of Satan.
To this wonderful understanding of deliverance, Jesus adds a warning in v24 to 26. Don’t underestimate how devious and wicked demons are. Demons love to make their homes in human beings. They are always on the lookout to wreak havoc.
And so one commentator says “Simply because a demon is cast out of a man does not mean he is beyond danger from evil … No one, then dare try to exist in some bland neutrality. A spiritual vacuum unfilled with commitment to Jesus is leaving itself open to utter spiritual ruin.”
In today’s context, I submit, we have to also be discerning when it comes to New Thought and New Age Spirituality. People speak about not being religious but spiritual.
And we need to be careful of their practices like meditation, channeling, crystals, mysticism, and astrology.
This morning, may we realize anew that Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
But at the same time be encouraged that in Christ Jesus, He is the stronger man who has overcome Satan.
And to the warning of the destructive nature of demons, may we therefore heed
Eph 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
It’s accepting those who listen and obey (v27 to v36)
As mentioned earlier, there were 3 reactions to Jesus’ deliverance of the demon possessed man. In this 2nd point, I would like to address both those who were amazed and those who asked for a sign from heaven.
I submit that from v27 to v32, Jesus responds to both of them and shows how they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
And the key thing we want note is that those who perceive correctly the Kingdom of Jesus are those who listen and obey Jesus.
The woman in the crowd said ‘blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed’. Might her comment be representative of those who marvelled at Jesus’ healing?
Now the woman through her statement was conveying that Mary, being Jesus’ earthly mother and by virtue of her family ties is blessed because of who Jesus is.
Jesus then used it as a teaching point to tell us why Mary is truly blessed.
Mary does say she is blessed for in her song recorded for us in Luke 1:47-48, she sings ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold from now on all generations will call be blessed.’
And to the woman’s beatitude, Jesus qualifies, in v28, the blessed ones are those who hear the word of God and keep it. And I submit, Luke has shown in his narrative that Mary is such a person.
In Luke chapter 1, Mary is contrasted with Zechariah the priest. Zechariah was struck dumb because he did not believe the words of the angel.
Mary on the other hand in response to the fact that she will bear a child by the power of the Holy Spirit responds:
Lk 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
I submit, Jesus is agreeing with the woman, yes, Mary is blessed, but not because she is related to me by kinship, but because she hears God’s word and she obeys.
And this has been consistent with Jesus for we already know of his words about who is his real family - Lk 8:21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
Now to the sceptics who requested a sign from Heaven, Jesus continues to emphasize this same point.
No other sign except that you hear God’s word and obey. Those who do so, have perceived the kingdom of Jesus.
Jesus says, only the sign of Jonah (v29) will be given and he also speaks about the Queen of Sheba (1 Kgs 10).
I’m sure we are all familiar with the story of Jonah. If not, do read about it this afternoon, it’s only 4 chapters long.
God called Jonah to preach to the city of Nineveh which was a sinful pagan and Gentile city. But Jonah refused and went instead by boat in the opposite direction.
God then caused a storm to come upon the boat and when Jonah was thrown overboard, a giant fish swallowed him and eventually he was vomited out on dry land.
Now God called Jonah a second time and this time he went to Nineveh. This is what is recorded for us:
Jon 3:4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
So the sign of Jonah is his preaching on repentance. And this is emphasized for us Luke 11:32 – the men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah.
With the example of the Queen of Sheba, we see that she took great length to travel all the way to Israel to see and experience for herself the wisdom of Solomon. And this is her conclusion:
1 Kgs 10:6 And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, 7 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. 8 Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.”
The sign from heaven is that the wisdom of God has come in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the one who is preaches repentances, for the kingdom of God is at hand.
Therefore, bow your knees and open your hands in obedience. For Jesus who is greater than Jonah and Solomon has arrived.
We are not told directly who Jesus’ audience was in today’s text. But we know that there was a crowd.
And from v37 to the end of chapter 11, we note that the Pharisees, Scribes and Lawyers were present amongst the crowd.
I submit this is a damning accusation of Jesus on the nation of Israel and their religious leaders in particular.
The pagan city of Nineveh, the Gentile Queen of Sheba recognized the voice of God in Jonah and Solomon.
Yet, they, Jews from Israel, were not able to perceive who King Jesus is.
Even Mary, a teenage girl from a little town of Nazareth was willing to obey God despite the societal challenges she will face. Yet, religious leaders who should know better are rejecting Jesus.
In the light of the sign of Jonah, let’s read responsively a few verses from Psalm 19. I’m so glad it was already read at our call to worship.
I feel the essence about the sign of Jonah and the Queen of the South are highlighted in these verses.
Ps 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
For all of us who perceive accurately that Jesus and His kingdom has come, may we also resonate with King David’s words in Psalm 19.
In the first section, I’ve proposed that v24 to v26, about the devious tactics of demons as warning attached to the teaching that Jesus and Beelzebub are in opposing camps.
So, here in this 2nd section, may I submit for our consideration that v33 to 36 would be a warning to those who reject the sign of Jonah.
God has sent His light into the world. That light is His son our Lord Jesus Christ. God has not hidden Jesus in the cellar nor under a basket.
Jesus has instead walked amongst God’s people firstly in the regions of Galilee and now making His way to Jerusalem.
So, the warning is thus, do the people see clearly who Jesus is?
To perceive Jesus’ kingdom, we need our eyes to be healthy, when it is healthy, our whole body will be full of light. But when it is bad, our bodies will be full of darkness.
Could this describe people having spiritual cataract?
According the internet, a cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of the eye that leads to a decrease in vision. Cataracts often develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms may include faded colors, blurry or double vision, and trouble seeing at night.
Cataracts are most commonly due to aging and other risk factors include diabetes, longstanding use of certain medication, smoking tobacco, prolonged exposure to sunlight, and alcohol.
Physical cataracts have both internal and external factors. And could we say the same for Spiritual cataracts as well?
Our sinful nature within and the evil influences of society can also cause us to be blinded to Jesus and His kingdom.
So Jesus warns in v35, therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.
At the end of Luke’s Gospel, we see two very different reactions to Jesus as He was crucified on the cross.
Besides Jesus there were 2 criminals. One railed at Jesus saying, ‘are you not the Christ, save yourself and us.’
The other however rebuked his fellow criminal saying ‘do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation – this man has done nothing wrong.’
Then this 2nd criminal turned to Jesus and requested – Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
Who do you think has the healthy eye? The 2nd criminal right!
Today, let’s examine ourselves, is there anything within us or have we allowed our environment, to cloud out the correct perspective of Jesus and His Kingdom?
Let’s review the values we hold dear, the things we read, what we are entertained with, the comforts of our material possessions, our careers, our relationships and hobbies?
Do these, cloud out our perspective of Jesus and His Kingdom?
May the Lord enable us to move instead towards being blessed disciples, disciples who hear the word of God accurately and keep it obediently.
To be blessed in Jesus’s eyes means being Pro-eternal life. That means we have the right perspective of who Jesus is, that we are sold out about His kingdom’s values and endeavour to live it out.
Our text today gives us 3 different responses to Jesus’ healing of the demon-possessed man – those who were marvelled, those who falsely accused Jesus of being in Satan’s camp and finally those who were sceptical.
In whose camp do you strongly identify with?
On this side of Calvary, we now have the definitive sign. The cross of Jesus at Calvary. He died so that we might have life, life abundant now and into eternity.
And through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jesus has left us His word that is able to make us wise for salvation (2 Tim 3:15).
Church, may our eyes be healthy so that our whole body is full of light, enabling us to live as His blessed disciples.