STUBBORN PHARISEES: BEWARE
Lord, keep me close to You as one of Your sheep.
Read MATTHEW 12:22–37
22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.
30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so that they cannot hear” (Jer. 6:10).
The opposition towards Jesus’ ministry continues to grow. While the crowds are amazed at what Jesus does and wonders if he really is the Son of David, the Pharisees attempt to discredit him. As on another occasion (Matt. 9:32–34), they are convinced that Jesus is not from God and accuse him of collaborating with Satan in performing acts of exorcism. Surely, this is a very painful moment for Jesus. The religious authorities misrepresent him by accusing him of being used by Satan, when in fact he is doing God’s will.
Unlike his earlier decision to withdraw from the Pharisees and their plot to kill him (15–21), this time Jesus decides to respond to them. First, he shows the absurdity of their charge—because any kingdom, city or household cannot stand if it is divided against itself. Second, Jesus points out the severe consequences that await the Pharisees if they continue to attribute his ministry to the power of Satan and to deny the power of the Spirit that is at work. He issues a strong warning to the Pharisees that their sins would not be forgiven if they persist in their blasphemous accusation. Finally, Jesus warns the Pharisees of their behavior and speech. By calling them a ‘brood of vipers” and “evil” (34), he exposes their evil intention and turns the tables on them by accusing them of being in the same league as Satan.
Jesus’ severe warning is not less applicable for us today. The author of Hebrews also repeatedly warns us against drifting away and departing from God, against disobedience and dullness and against deliberately sinning and defying God (cf. Heb. 2:1–4; 3:12–15; 4:11–13; 5:11—6:6; 10:26–39; 12:25–29). The occasion for us to be like the Pharisees is as real today as back then.
Spend some moments in self-examination. Are there any ways in which we could be guilty like the Pharisees?
Lord, search me and reveal to me any trace of Pharisaical influence.