Jesus, The Plunderer of Goods

Introduction

In Matthew 12:22-30 we have an account of Jesus healing a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute. After He does this, the Pharisees catch wind of it, and naturally, in Pharisaical fashion, they need to figure out a way to discredit what Jesus is doing because they are filled with envious rage. So they claim that He casts out demons by Beelsebul, the prince of demons. Now, this seems like a foolish argument, and Jesus proves it to be so. He says, “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand” (Matthew 12:26)?

Simply put, if Jesus is casting out demons by the chief demon himself, it would be self-defeating to the expansion of his own kingdom and rule over people. But He then tells them, it is not by Beelsebul that this is happening, but by the Spirit of God. He says, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).  The kingdom of God did indeed come upon them, and us. It has entered in and has been unfolding ever since our Lord began His ministry. Now here is the interesting part; after this, he tells them what is actually happening. Jesus has bound up Satan and is plundering his goods. “How can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house” (Matthew 12:29). That which has been under Satan’s control (the souls of men) is being taken back by the King of kings. Jesus is indeed the plunderer of goods.

I Saw That Coming

Someone may ask, “Is this an accurate title to describe the Lord Jesus Christ?” Ought we to describe the perfect righteous one as a plunderer? After all, isn’t a plunderer a thief? If so, He would at least have to be a “good” thief, right? You know, like a perfectly righteous Robinhood or something of the like. Well, while Robinhood stole from the rich and gave to the poor, a task in and of itself which makes Robinhood seem like he could have fit well into the present governmental establishment; that is not really the kind of thing Jesus was doing. To steal is to take that which is not yours. What we find Jesus doing in history is not taking that which is not His, but rather, taking back that which always belonged to him from the beginning and was attempted to be stolen by that ugly evil serpent, the Devil.

The bible tells us in John 1:2-3, speaking of the Christ, “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” All things came into being through the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God. This means that all is indeed his. Imagine a blacksmith who makes many tools and weapons; they all belong to him unless he gives them away. If a thief breaks in and steals away all of the blacksmith’s goods, they hardly become the thief’s property. For the blacksmith to regain what is his, is not thievery, it is what we might call righteous reclamation. He is reclaiming that which rightfully belonged to him in the first place, and punishing the real evildoer.

Total Reclamation

The glorious part of this whole thing is what happens to the reclaimed goods. They are not just reclaimed and left on a shelf to gather dust. Imagine the scenario where the blacksmith receives back what is his. The authorities demand that since this criminal has a long history of thievery, he will be losing a hand. They then commission the blacksmith, who had his tools and goods initially stolen from him, to provide them with a sword which would be suitable for the punishing act. You see the irony? Jesus doesn’t just remove people out of the ranks of Satan’s army, but he enlists them into His own army, and they are now part of the infantry which will dismantle and bring destruction to all that Satan thinks he has. Christ’s kingdom alone will reign. The book of Revelation tells us this, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).

Jesus told us plainly that the ruler of this world was “cast out” (Jn 12:31). We are told in Revelation 20:2-3 that Satan has been bound up “so that he might not deceive the nations any longer.” Christ is busy drawing all men to himself, and in the process of this righteous reclamation, he is using us to aid in that process. What a glorious thing! Hear the words of Athanasius as he deals with Satan’s demise in the midst of Christ’s rule being established,

“The devil was hooked by the Lord, like a dragon, by the hook of the Cross; and was taken in a drag-net, and was bound like a fugitive slave, and his lips were perforated by a ring and a bracelet, and he is not permitted to devour any of the faithful. Now, like a wretched sparrow, he is made sport of by Christ; now he groans at his companions, being trodden like serpents and scorpions under the heels of Christians.”

The victory is sure for Christ to conquer, let us enter in as a useful tool in the hands of the blacksmith. I borrow from Richard Sibbs a final exhortation:

“Let us not look so much at who our enemies are as at who our judge and captain is, not at what they threaten, but at what he promises. We have more for us than against us. What coward would not fight when he is sure of victory?” 

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