Jesus has just driven out the demon from a mute person. While the crowds are awed, some people attribute the miracle to the power of Beelzebul. Jesus points to the absurdity of Satan fighting against himself and says that he drives out demons “by the finger of God.”
Jesus also implies that his adversaries have less faith in God’s finger at work in him and in the world than the magicians at Pharaoh’s court. For the third plague sent to persuade the Pharaoh to let the Israelites depart from Egypt (Ex 8:12-15), Aaron struck the ground with his staff, and gnats arose from the dust, infesting people and beasts. The Pharaoh’s magicians used their magic arts to duplicate the feat but were unable to do so. Admitting their failure, the magicians told Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”
Besides representing divine power working mighty signs and wonders for his people, God’s finger (or “hand”) is seen in the created world—the heavens, the moon, the stars, humans, and animals (Ps 8). When the Pharaoh refuses to let Israel go, God tells Moses that he will lay his hand on Egypt, and by great acts of judgment, God will bring Israel out of bondage. It is God’s own finger that inscribes the Ten Commandments on the two stone tablets given to Moses (Ex 31:18; Dt 9:10).
God’s Spirit is in Jesus who is God’s finger at work to free men and women from Satan and the forces of evil. Those who follow Jesus share in his victory over evil and continue his liberating mission.