#17: JESUS ENDURES HOSTILITY FROM SINNERS
(Matthew 12:24-40, Mark 3:22-30, Hebrews 12:3, I Peter 2:21-23)
(This devotional takes up where our last devotional, #16, left off:) The crowd is so amazed at the miracle of the blind and mute man seeing and speaking that they consider receiving Jesus as their Messiah. They feel the mighty anointing and presence of the Holy Spirit that accompanies Jesus and they exclaim, “Perhaps this is the Son of David!”
The possibility of the crowd concluding that Jesus is their Messiah greatly disturbs the Pharisees. With hearts filled with bitter envy and selfish ambition, they seek to injure his reputation. Some begin to mutter insults against him. One of them is particularly bold and defiant and insults Jesus openly, blurting out:
“This fellow claims he casts out demons by the Spirit of God. But I say that he gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him because he operates by the power of Beelzebub!”
“That’s right;” another rejoins, “by the old Philistine fly-god of Ekron!”
Another adds, “Exactly! Are we not right when we say that the spirit in him is unclean, and he accesses the power of the chief of demons?”
This is not the first time Jesus has endured such public insults from sinful leaders. Jesus works wonders by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, by accusing him of having counterfeit gifts of a false god, they insult and abuse the Holy Spirit. The psalmist described them well:
“Protect me from the plots of the wicked, . . .
Sharp tongues are the swords they wield;
bitter words are the arrows they aim”
(Psalm 64:2-3, NLT).
Jesus responds, “Every kingdom having division in itself is made waste, and every town or house having division in itself will come to destruction. And if Satan sends out Satan, he makes war with himself; how then will he keep his kingdom?” (Matthew 12:25-26, Bas)
By the finger of God Jesus casts out demons and sets people free. The gates of hell cannot prevail against him as he destroys the works of the devil and gives people more abundant life.
Jesus warns these proud men, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30, NIV). His disciples are helping him gather the lost people of the house of Israel to God, but these religious leaders scatter the people away from Him.
Jesus sternly cautions these deceived leaders about attributing to Satan the miracles of the Holy Spirit. That is blasphemy of God's Spirit - a sin which will never be forgiven! He rebukes them, saying, “You offspring of snakes, how are you, being evil, able to say good things? Because out of the heart’s store come the words of the mouth. . . . in the day when they are judged, men will have to give an account of every foolish word they have said” (Matthew 12:34, 36, Bas).
Old Testament Promise Fulfilled:
(Given 712 B. C.)
“no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you”
(Isaiah 54:17a, NIV).
Some of the Scribes and Pharisees desire to dispute with him further, so they tempt him, demanding, “Teacher, show us a miracle from heaven – a visible divine sign!”
Jesus healing this blind and mute man was a miracle, but they want to see a spectacular sign in the heavens. They hope to prove that Jesus cannot work that kind of miracle. The devil speaks through these men, tempting Jesus, even as he tempted Jesus to perform other signs, such as to turn stones to bread or to jump off the top of the temple. But Jesus refuses to perform a miracle to satisfy their curiosity or their desire for entertainment. He answers:
“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign,
and no sign will be given to it
except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
For as Jonah was three days and three nights
in the belly of the great fish,
so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights
in the heart of the earth”
(Matthew 12:39b-40, NKJV).
Here Jesus foretells the most amazing and outstanding miracle of all: his death, burial in the tomb and resurrection. He explains that he will be a miracle of God to this generation like Jonah was a sign and wonder to the people of Nineveh. And he contrasts the repentance and responsiveness to God of those Gentiles with the rejection he was now receiving from the Jewish leaders. Jesus' words cut to the hearts of his listeners with convicting power, as written, “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword” (Isaiah 49:2a, NIV).
Comment: Notice what Jesus said, found in Matthew 12:25: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (NKJV). We could substitute the word “army” for “kingdom” and that would make another true statement: “Every army divided against itself is brought to desolation”.
We Christians make up the army of Christ. If we will increase our unity, we will increase our victories. One of my prayers is that we Christians be sanctified by God’s truth and that we will be one, even as Jesus and the Father are one (John 17:17-22). I also seek each day to put on and keep on the garment of love, for God’s love bonds, unites, and holds us Christians together (Colossians 3:12-14, 2:2).
“How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony! It is like the precious anointing oil running down . . . It is like the dew on Mount Hermon, falling on the hills of Zion. That is where the Lord has promised His blessing – even life that never ends” (Psalm 133:1, 2a, 3, TEV).
Note: much of this devotional is from The Life of Jesus Foretold, pages 97-101