I heard this text preached last night (here’s a link to it), and it sent my mind off in a somewhat different direction (sorry, Curtis–I did like what you said!). Jesus is accused by his opponents of casting out demons using the power of Satan. Now I don’t know about you, but I suspect that most folks, if they were accused in such a way, would immediately defend themselves, and point out all the ways in which it would be ridiculous to see them using the power of Satan. Certainly, with all the good that Jesus was doing, it wouldn’t be at all hard for him to take this approach.
But he doesn’t do this at all. Instead, he uses a surprising sort of argument, that comes to an unexpected conclusion. Essentially, he says something like this: “Let’s assume that what you are saying about me is true, that I’m casting out demons by the Prince of demons. If that is true, then Satan is divided against himself, and his time of power is coming to an end. Therefore, if what you say is true, then what I am saying is also true, that the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
What strikes me is Jesus’ complete absence of defensiveness about himself. He never even bothers to refute the charge. He simply tries to help them to see that even if they think they are right, Jesus’ message must still be taken seriously, even if they want to write him off personally.
Wow. That’s an amazing teacher. Start with the framework of your opponents. Don’t even try to disprove them directly. Help them to see that their own framework will lead them into surprising places, and let them live with the ambivalence that will create. I can see why the disciples remembered this one.