Sunday, June 05, 2011

Matthew 12:22-37


22 Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. 23 All the crowds were amazed and were saying, ``This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?'' 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ``This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.''

25 And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, ``Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 ``If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27 ``If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason, they will be your judges. 28 ``But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 ``Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 ``He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

We come now to the pivotal point of the Gospel of Matthew and of Jesus' ministry! Jesus has presented Himself flawlessly as the promised Messiah of God, the One Who was pictured throughout history as God's Deliverer, the longed for Messiah of the Jewish people, found in every feast they celebrated, the fulfillment of the masses of prophecies, the hope of Israel. YET the leadership of the Jews flatly reject Him to the point of relegating Jesus as being empowered by the Devil (Beelzebul). This rejection is at the end of the miracle section of Matthew (8-12) and with this ultimate rejection Jesus, in turn, pulls Himself back from the leadership. This was the last straw!

31 ``Therefore, I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 ``Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. 33 ``Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 ``You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 ``The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 ``But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 ``For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.''

Maybe the most important issue of this passage is what is called the blasphemy of the Spirit. This blasphemy cannot be forgiven. There are two frightening statements in Scripture that have stirred up attention. One is the "sin unto death" and the other is the "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit." Both strike great fear in the hearts of people when they begin to wonder if they have ever committed one or the other or both. I believe the Devil uses this fear to his advantage by getting people to think of the worst thing you've ever done and then accusing you of one of these two sins. (His specialty is personal condemnation and tearing you down in any way he can!)

The "sin unto death" is basically refusing to believe in Jesus right up to the point of death. Once you have heard the message of Jesus and continue to reject Him, you have committed the "sin unto death" and this cannot be forgiven. And, since you have chosen to have nothing to do with God's Messiah, Jesus, you won't have to for all of eternity, for you will be separated from Him forever.

The "blasphemy of the Spirit" is not the time you cussed God out or openly rejected Him or committed a most heinous sin. This sin could only be committed during a certain time in history so far. It is when you reject the most full expression of God's Messiah-fully empowered by the Spirit of God and approved by God, the Father. When Jesus walked the planet, filled with the Holy Spirit so that He performed and spoke so powerfully and effectively and was rejected, this was the "blasphemy of the Spirit" that cannot be forgiven. This is why Jesus frequently says that His generation will suffer the greatest condemnation, worse than Sodom and Gomorrah.

NOTE that this miracle of healing the man who couldn't hear or speak is one of the three miracles that the Messiah was to perform, when He comes. This was not prophetic, but was carried about by tradition. The three miracles were (1) healing a leper, (2) healing a man blind from birth and (3) healing a man who could not hear or speak. Generation after generation was told that "When the Messiah comes, He will actually heal a leper, open the eyes of the person born blind and will someday be able to make a deaf mute hear and speak." In the first century there were Jewish exorcists who did perform successful exorcisms among the people. They would get the demon to speak and they would then cast it out of a person. But in the case of the deaf mute, the person couldn't speak so they were stymied as to how to perform their exorcism. So, the tradition was that when the Messiah comes, He'll actually be able to do this.

Although Jesus didn't have to fulfill these traditions, He did so in order to reach these people. He accommodated Himself to their wishes and dreams of what the Messiah might do and these miracles became most convicting to those who saw and heard. Jesus was relentless in reaching out to the last, lost one to bring people back into a relationship with God. He is still relentlessly doing everything He can do to win your heart and get your attention today. He only requires that you be interested and seek Him out. HE WILL SHOW UP!