Thesis:The exercise of the power and authority of Jesus is restricted by Jesus to legitimate efforts to make Kingdom Truth manifest.
Introduction: When Jesus was accused of casting out demons by the prince of demons (Luke 11:15), He responded by asking this question: "If Satan be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?". In the light of our current study of the failure of the disciples to cast out a demon, this is a pertinent question. If we ask it in a different way, it will still have the same answer: If the Son of Man is divided against Himself, how shall His kingdom stand? At issue is one basic fact: the exercise of "power" by any "kingdom" representative must be consistent with the objectives of that "kingdom", or it will be self-defeating. When Jesus cast out demons, He did so as the Primary Representative of the Kingdom of God. When Jesus imparted His power and authority to The Twelve to cast out demons, they became representatives of the Kingdom of God. As representatives, they had to function under the dominion of the Kingdom's agenda and principles or they would put the Kingdom in opposition to itself and underwrite its own destruction. Therefore, if they attempted to exercise the power and authority of Jesus against the agenda and principles of the Kingdom of Jesus, their attempt had to be frustrated in order to prevent the Kingdom from being in opposition to itself.
This morning we are going to look into the failure of The Nine in the light of what they were attempting to do.
I. The First Question: What Were They Attempting To Do?
A. The answer at the most shallow levels of "attempt".
1. Most obvious is the fact that their "attempt" was to use authority to force a demon to do their will.
a. This is the most problematic area of the use of authority.
1) Before God created anything, there was no such thing as the use of authority to "trump" another's use of authority.
a) Perfect love only exists in a reciprocal setting where the desires of the "other" are the only mandate.
b) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit never had a single situation wherein one wanted and the others resisted.
2) After God (Father, Son, and Spirit) created, an entirely new situation existed wherein there were "persons" who were "less than deity" and whose "being" included the ability to make choices and pursue actions.
a) "Persons", by definition, are entities who possess at least four major characteristics: they can reason; they can makechoices; they can takeaction; and they willfeel the repercussions of the intermix of the former three.
b) The problems of being a created person consisted most fundamentally of being less than "capable" in the arenas of Love and Truth and being involved in reasoning, choosing, acting, and feeling [This is a dicey dilimma in that one's actions will be regulated by one's reasoning and choosing without any firm grasp of what will be "felt" afterwards].
c) The only solution for these inescapable realities was one: the creature had to "believe" in the manifest Love and Truth of the Creator and grow into an ever developing grasp of the glory of God by faith.
3) The record is that some of the creatures determined to challenge the Love and Truth by a refusal to "believe".
4) The refusal generated the first ever situation wherein the use of authority was applied to "force" compliance upon an unwilling person.
5) A massive problem then arose: how to "love" while "forcing" the unwilling to comply when such force is the essence of "hate".
a) The refusal to "believe" was an act of "hate" and the subsequent refusal to allow the unbelieving to succeed was also "hateful".
b) So began the delicate "dance" of the application of power and authority in a creation now baptized into hatred.
i. This "dance" involved the question of when to permit a "person" to be a "person" and exercise his/her reason, choice, the taking of action, and the experience of the repercussions and when to curtail that essence of personhood because of the nature of the repercussions that will come.
ii. This "dance" also involved the question of how to resolve the entire problem of creatures in rebellion vs. creatures of faith (how to resolve the reality of a Kingdom divided).
b. When The Nine commanded the demon to come out of the boy they were attempting to thwart that demon's own personhood.
2. Next most obvious is the fact that their "attempt" was to use authority to give the distraught father what he wanted.
a. This was, boiled down, simply an engagement by The Nine of the conflict between the demon's use of force against the boy and the father's desire for the use of force against the demon.
b. On the face of it, The Nine were stepping in to align themselves with the father against the demon.
B. The answer at the more determinative levels of "attempt".
1. All "attempts" made have at least two levels of "attempt".
a. There is the level of appearance: what "seems" to be the goal.
b. There is the level of the heart: what "is" the goal.
2. What the text reveals about the "hearts" of The Nine.
a. On the face of it, Jesus' reaction identified the problem of the "hearts": unbelief.
1) This was not a "known" factor: there is no evidence that the disciples had any idea that the demon was going to successfully oppose their demands.
2) This was, however, an introduction of the principle that a kingdom cannot be divided against itself and succeed.
a) This meant that Jesus could not allow His authority to be "used" by the disciples.
b) This also meant that the impact of the Kingdom upon the people was going to take a direct hit because of appearances.
b. Under the surface, there are two further statements that identified an even more pernicious problem of the "hearts": the lack of love, i.e., "hate".
1) Unbelief is bad enough; hate is worse.
2) 9:45 reveals a serious "pride" problem, rooted in hatred of the Truth.
3) 9:46 reveals the same thing at a more public level.
3. Thus, we are compelled to conclude that The Nine were out to build their own reputations at the expense of the Kingdom's agenda and principles.
II. The Second Question: Why Did They Fail?
A. Would it not have been "better" for the demon to be frustrated rather than The Nine?
B. In terms of "what is worse", was not the demon more vicious than The Nine?
C. But we have to ask another question: how did the demon get to be so vicious?
1. Was not the visciousness of the demon simply the extended development of the unbelief and hatred that existed also in the hearts of The Nine?
2. Is not the long term goal of moving men from unbelief and hatred to faith and love a greater goal than the short term goal of giving one sinner his way over another sinner? (Why should the father get his way and the demon not get his? Who decides? Why had God permitted the demon to have his way in the first place?).