And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
One of my former pupils is a very talented musician. Along with a couple of friends, he started a band, who between them produced some very distinctive music. My pupil bought a CD with some of his songs into school for me one day, in the hope that I would play them on my radio show. I took the CD home and listened carefully to the four tracks he had recorded, and I thought they were outstanding.
The band played a number of club nights in London. One day, a record company executive who had heard great things about this youthful band, attended one of their gigs, wanting to see for himself what all the hype was about. The next thing I knew, they had been signed, and had released their first album to critical acclaim. They’re even favourites of Radio 1!
You know you’re starting to get a bit of a reputation when the big wigs come down to see you. Jesus had clearly been getting quite a reputation. He had been preaching and teaching in and around Galilee, yet he had come to the reputation of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. They travelled all the way to Capernaum to see Jesus for themselves – a journey of a not inconsiderable 120 miles. When they finally get to see Jesus, they are amazed at what they see; they had expected him to be a fraud, and yet even they are surprised by what he is doing. They quickly jump to conclusions, however; rather than watching carefully what Jesus is doing, and listening carefully to all that he says, they simply accuse him of being an agent for the Devil. Their acceptance that he was doing things that could be explained away are interesting for us as Christians, however, since it is actually evidence to support the Gospel’s claims about Jesus.
Clearly there was something special about Jesus. Clearly he was doing amazing things. In which case, it is extremely important that we watch and listen to him carefully and decide for ourselves exactly what his true identity. Was he in fact the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, as he claimed to be? In which case, did he really die for me? These are incredibly important questions that everyone needs to consider – Christians and non-Christians alike. As Christians, we must ensure that our faith is built on realistic evidence. For non-Christians, it is equally important that if you are to continue in your non-faith, that you have looked carefully at the evidence and ruled Jesus as the Christ out based on the evidence available. For all of us, Jesus’ true identity is a matter of life and death.