Jesus’ Life and Ministry
The Source of Happiness
DURING his ministry in Galilee, Jesus performed miracles, and he now repeats these in Judea. For instance, he casts out of a man a demon that has prevented him from speaking. The crowds are amazed, but critics raise the same objection as was raised in Galilee. “He expels the demons by means of Beelzebub the ruler of the demons,” they claim. Others want greater evidence from Jesus as to his identity, and they try to tempt him by asking for a sign from heaven.
Knowing what they are thinking, Jesus gives the same answer to his critics in Judea as he gave to those in Galilee. He observes that every kingdom divided against itself will fall. “So,” he asks, “if Satan is also divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” He shows the dangerous position of his critics by saying: “If it is by means of God’s finger I expel the demons, the kingdom of God has really overtaken you.”
Those observing Jesus’ miracles should respond to them in the same way as those did who centuries before saw Moses perform a miracle. They exclaimed: “It is the finger of God!” It was also “God’s finger” that carved the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. And “God’s finger”—his holy spirit, or active force—is what enables Jesus to cast out demons and to cure the sick. So the Kingdom of God has indeed overtaken these critics, since Jesus, the designated King of the Kingdom, is right there in their midst.
Jesus then illustrates that his ability to expel demons is evidence of his power over Satan, even as when a stronger man comes along and overpowers a well-armed man guarding his palace. He also repeats the illustration he told in Galilee regarding an unclean spirit that leaves a man, but when the man does not fill the void with good things, the spirit returns with seven others, and the condition of the man becomes worse than at the first.
While listening to these teachings, a woman from the crowd is moved to exclaim loudly: “Happy is the womb that carried you and the breasts that you sucked!” Since the desire of every Jewish woman is to be the mother of a prophet and particularly the Messiah, it is understandable that this woman would say this. Apparently she thought Mary could especially be happy because of being Jesus’ mother.
However, Jesus quickly corrects the woman regarding the true source of happiness. “No,” he responds, “rather, Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!” Never did Jesus imply that his mother, Mary, should be given special honor. Instead, he showed that true happiness is found in being a faithful servant of God, not in any physical ties or accomplishments.
As he did in Galilee, Jesus also goes on to rebuke the people for requesting a sign from heaven. He tells them that no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah. Jonah became a sign both by his three days in the fish and by his bold preaching, which resulted in the Ninevites’ being moved to repent. “But, look!” Jesus says, “something more than Jonah is here.” Similarly, the queen of Sheba marveled at Solomon’s wisdom. “But, look!” Jesus also says, “something more than Solomon is here.”
Jesus explains that when a person lights a lamp, he does not put it in a vault or under a basket but upon a lampstand so that people can see the light. Perhaps he is intimating that teaching and performing miracles before these obstinate persons in his audience is comparable to hiding the light of a lamp. The eyes of such observers are not simple, or in focus, so the intended purpose of his miracles is not accomplished.
Jesus has just expelled a demon and has caused a mute man to speak. This should motivate people with simple, or focused, eyes to praise this glorious feat and proclaim the good news! Yet, with these critics, this is not what occurs. So Jesus concludes: “Be alert, therefore. Perhaps the light that is in you is darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is bright with no part at all dark, it will all be as bright as when a lamp gives you light by its rays.” Luke 11:14-36; Exodus 8:18, 19; 31:18; Matthew 12:22, 28.
◆ What is the response to Jesus’ healing the man?
◆ What is God’s finger, and how had God’s Kingdom overtaken Jesus’ listeners?
◆ What is the source of true happiness?
◆ How can a person have a simple eye?