AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 9:32-34
32 As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.
Who, “they” were, that brought the dumb man to Jesus, is not given, but an undeniable truth is indicated. There are unsung heroes in life. There are friends who do good to us that go unrecognized, and unrewarded in time, but their good deeds are known to God. The gospel exhortation is to do good to others, especially those who are of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).
Individuals need good friends, especially when their condition in life is desperate. This particular dumb man was possessed by a devil. The word used here for devil refers elsewhere to a person who is dumb and deaf. It is a tragedy to be unable to speak. Many people have lost their ability to speak due to throat cancer or some injury. It is a far greater tragedy to be unable to hear as well.
Hellen Keller was both deaf and dumb until God brought into her life Anne Sullivan, who herself was afflicted with trachoma, a bacterial eye disease which caused painful inflections, and eventually made her nearly blind as well. On March 3, 1887, Mrs. Sullivan came to help Hellen Keller, and stayed with her for the next forty-nine years.
In Scripture, care is taken to make a distinction between organic sickness, and demon possession. There is a spirit world, and it is evil. There are demons, whom the Bible identifies as fallen angels who joined in the rebellion against God in eternity past, to form the kingdom of Satan. Some demons have been confined, to be reserved unto judgment (2 Peter 2:4), while others are given freedom to roam the universe. The fallen angels who roam about are called “unclean spirits” (Matt. 10:1; Mark 6:7), or, demons (Gk. daimon, divine power [of a bad nature]).
There is no power which is beyond the sovereign control of the King. While demon possession is real, and powerful, it is something that can be confronted, and cured, by the power of the King of kings, and Lord of lords, even the King over darkness. Whatever power Lucifer may have, Jesus is still sovereign, and rules over every form of darkness.
When blind men are plunged into physical darkness, Jesus is able to restore their sight. When spiritually blind men are groping about in darkness, like Saul of Tarsus, Jesus is able to illuminate their heart and mind, and give them new eyes to behold His splendor and glory. When individuals are possessed by the demons of darkness, Jesus has the power to make the captives free,
33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
When a demon enters into someone, it can take total control of a person’s mental and physical capacities. Many people in psychiatric hospitals are victims of demon possession, though it is not always easy to determine what is demonic and what is an organic mental aberration. Knowing a person’s life story is important, because there are people who open themselves up to demonic possession through astrology, witchcraft, Modern Spiritualism, Satanism, the use of drugs, the worship of an idol, involvement in the occult, or accepting false doctrine, which is said to be demonically influenced (1 Tim. 4:1).
Demons promulgate their doctrines through human teachers who speak lies in hypocrisy, “having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2). Paul identified celibacy, and forced vegetarianism as being demonically influenced. Unfortunately, one of the first places to look for Satan is in the pew, and in the pulpits of local churches.
How the man brought to Jesus came to be possessed by a demon is not given, but care should be taken not to deliberately open one’s self up to demon possession.
One of the major objectives of demons is to corrupt the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, that could not be done, for Jesus had power not only to cast out demons, restore health, but teach the dumb to speak. The text says, “when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake.” Here is a miracle upon a miracle. Here is grace upon grace. When Jesus comes into the life of a person they can speak in a supernatural way about the Lord and His goodness. Indeed, they cannot keep silent. “The dumb spake.” He could do no less, for he had to say, “To God be the glory!”
“Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father,
Through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory,
Great things He has done.”
Throughout the ministry of Jesus, the effort was made to discredit Him. Sometimes this was done out of jealousy, which even the ungodly could perceive (Matt. 27:18). Sometimes Jesus was slandered in cruel mockery (Matt. 27:49). Sometimes comments were made against Christ out of ignorance. “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children” (Matt. 11:19). More often, the opposition to Jesus came from religious leaders, people who should have known better, such as the Pharisees. But what did they say?
34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.
The Pharisees were willing to make this unworthy accusation against Jesus because they were spiritually blind. It takes the illuminating work of God the Holy Spirit to understand Christ, His message, and His ministry.
Carlsbad Cavern is located in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. Those who have taken a tour of the cavern have experienced the sudden darkness visitors are plunged into when the lights of the cavern are turned off. It is impossible to see one’s hand in front of one’s own face, so complete is the blackness. Spiritual darkness is like that. It is impossible for the natural man to behold spiritual truth until the Holy Spirit illuminates spiritual eyes. Until then, individuals grope about in darkness, talking to one another about things they do not understand because they cannot see. “The truth we see depends upon the men we are” (Unknown).
The Pharisees were willing to make this unworthy accusation against Jesus because they believed in demons. They believed there is a spirit world led by the devil, who went by various names, to include Lucifer, Satan, and Beelzebub. What the Pharisees did not know is that it was they who belonged to their Father the Devil. Jesus had to point that out to them, which He did (John 8:44).
It is a practice of evil men to accuse others of the very thing they are guilty of. Psychologist have a word for this, projection. The Biblical term is, hypocrite. The hypocrite will rail against the very behavior self is guilty of committing.
It is good that the Pharisees believed in demons. It is wise for people to believe they exist, while care is taken not to give the devil, or demons more power and authority than they really have. Sometimes a Christian who is caught in sin will try to blame a demonic influence for the evil of their own heart. The world begins to mock when this is done, as comedian Flip Wilson used to say, “The Devil made me do it!” No, each person is responsible for their own heart and behavior.
What is not good is to falsely accuse someone of being demon possessed for doing a good work when it is performed in the name and power of the Holy Spirit. That is blasphemy. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a sin which can still be committed today. Beware of this sin. It is unforgiveable when committed.
Later, when the Pharisees repeated this accusation on another occasion, Jesus had enough, and would eventually say to His accusers, “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men” (Matt. 12:31).
Jesus did not cast out demons by Beelzebub, but by the power of God. It was because the power of God rested on Jesus that He was able to heal the death mute. This healing miracle points to Him as the true Messianic King.
This healing miracle set forth the kindness and compassion of Christ for all manner of sickness and disease. Do you have a blood issue? Jesus cares about your sickness. Is your child ill? The heart of Jesus is moved with concern. Are you blind? Jesus will listen to cries for help. Is your hearing afflicted, and your tongue dumb? This situation can be brought to Jesus.
Sometimes, the Lord will be pleased to heal the body and restore perfect health. Sometimes the Lord will say that His grace is sufficient to bear the affliction. Sometimes the Lord will use affliction to glorify Himself in a fantastic way. Fanny Crosby was born with sight, and then lost it needlessly in infancy. God did not heal her blindness, but He did give Fanny Crosby spiritual insight to see so much. At the age of eight she wrote her first recorded poem:
“O what a happy soul am I
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world,
contented I will be,
How many blessings I enjoy,
That other people don’t
To weep and sigh because I’m blind
I cannot and I won’t.”
What is always true, is that in our lives, one act of grace and mercy succeeds another so that the Church can say, “God is good – all the time.” And the Church can also say, “All the time – God is good.”