Jesus and the Darkness
Jesus and the Darkness
When God became flesh He taught amazing things and worked miracles. Among those miracles, Jesus cast out demons (Matthew 12:22). When the demons encountered the Son of God they acknowledged Him as such (Matthew 8:29) and they were incredibly fearful of Him and His power. They knew that He could instantly cast them into the abyss (Luke 8:28). The demons not only believe in God, they know that Jesus is the Son of God, and this knowledge makes them tremble with fear (James 2:19). How encouraging that the Person who has our back is feared by Satan and his legions.
The Son of David: Matthew 12:23
The term “Son of David” is equivalent to the Messiah or the Christ. Jesus was so different from the Messiah they were expecting, or the one they had invented in their own minds, that even after Jesus healed people in their very presence, they still doubted His claims. Even in the face of such a miracle, their unbelief is present. "He doesn't fit my box".
This Man Casts Out Demons: Matthew 12:24
The Pharisees quickly determine to check the growing thoughts about Jesus that were circulating from mouth to mouth. Whatever else they claimed, this argument admits that Jesus really did cast out demons. None doubted the reality of His works; even His enemies acknowledged that He performed miracles (John 11:47; Acts 2:22). “Only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons”: In the context, Jesus links “Beelzebul” with Satan (12:26). The claim is serious, for it infers that Jesus and Satan are on the same side.
Knowing Their Thoughts: Matthew 12:25
Did the Pharisees really believe that Satan would be so foolish as to undermine His own power? I don’t know, but what I do know is that when men and women reject the truth, they will grasp at anything that enables them to escape from what God is saying. "Any argument is a good argument” is typically the mindset of someone who is determined to avoid the truth. Here we learn that more evidence is not the problem for many people. Even when confronted with the miraculous, if you don't want to believe the truth, you can always find an excuse, no matter how inconsistent or flimsy.
Divided Kingdoms: Matthew 12:25
Jesus points out the foolishness of such a contention. Satan would not be so foolish as to attack himself, for even Satan knows that any kingdom divided against itself is doomed to collapse. Such an argument infers that all the powers of darkness are united against God and His truth. If evil is thus united, can we afford to be divided?
“By whom do your sons cast them out?”
The “sons” of the Pharisees could have been their literal sons, who also were Pharisees, or their disciples. As to whether this Jewish exorcists really did cast out demons, McGarvey says, “Our Lord’s reference to them was merely for the purpose of presenting an argumentum ad hominem, and in no way implies that they exercised any real power over the demons; nor could they have done so in any marked degree, else the similar work of Christ would not have created such an astonishment. The argument therefore is this, I have already shown you that it is against reason that Satan cast out Satan; I now show you that it is against experience. The only instances of dispossession, which you can cite, are those of your own disciples. Do they act by the power of Satan?” (Fourfold Gospel, p. 301).
The Spirit of God and the Kingdom: Matthew 12:28
Luke has “the finger of God” (Luke 11:20), which is another way of saying, “by the power of God” (Exodus 8:19; Deut. 9:10). Casting out demons by the Holy Spirit, doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t have any power Himself, rather it means that the Godhead works in unison. For example, the Father used Jesus’ power to create the universe (John 1:3). “Then the kingdom of God has come upon you”: The expression, “kingdom of God” can also refer to God’s presence and power. Jesus is reminding his listeners that in seeing the miracles, they were seeing God’s power displayed, they were being confronted with God’s rule of the universe, the King of the coming Kingdom was in their presence and was displaying His power and credentials and they rejecting Him.
Binding the Strong Man: Matthew 12:29
In this verse, Satan is the strong man, his house the body of the demoniac, and his goods the evil spirit or spirits which are within the man. Casting out the demons proved that Satan was helpless to resist Jesus’ power. Satan is not a co-equal with God in the universe; the universe is not composed of two equal powers, one good and the other evil. Rather, Satan is far less powerful than God. The reason that Jesus came to this earth was to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8; Colossians 2:14). Jesus is not teaching that Satan doesn’t have influence anymore, for Satan continues to harass Christians (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:10-18). Rather, Satan was “bound” in the sense that he stood helpless to hinder Jesus, every time that Jesus was casting out demons. Satan cannot resist God’s power, when God decides that enough is enough and takes action.
The Impossibility of Neutrality: Matthew 12:30
Neutrality with Jesus is impossible. Jesus here may be appealing to the undecided in the audience. This stern warning admonishes the undecided to make up their mind about Jesus.
Blasphemy Against the Spirit: Matthew 12:31-32
First, the good news is that any sin and blasphemy can be forgiven men. There is no reason why a person must remain lost. Even those who crucified Jesus could be forgiven (Acts 2:36-38; 3:15-19). According to Mark’s account, in this context, blasphemy against the Spirit was when the Pharisees claimed that Jesus was casting out demons by Satan’s power and not God’s power (Mark 3:29-30). “And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him” (12:32). Such forgiveness isn’t automatic, rather, those who rejected Jesus while He was upon the earth, would be given another chance to accept Him through the preaching of the apostles (Acts 2), yet they still had to believe, repent and be baptized. Speaking against the Holy Spirit means rejecting all the evidence that the Spirit reveals, whether the miracles through Jesus and His apostles, or the truth that the apostles would preach and record (John 16:13).
Neither in this age, or in the age of come: Matthew 12:32
One could reject Jesus, but then hear the apostles preaching and accept Him. Yet if one continues to reject the very evidence that the Holy Spirit provided through the apostles, then there is nothing left to convict them. The blasphemy against the Spirit is not limited to a single word, and neither is Jesus saying that it is a sin that cannot be forgiven, no matter how hard a person wants to change and be forgiven. Rather, it is a perpetual and persistent sin. It is the attitude that rejects all the evidence that the Holy Spirit has given man. Other passages reveal that it is persistence in evil which cannot be forgiven (Hebrews 10:26; Hebrews 6:4-6).
Good Trees: Matthew 12:33
“The meaning and connection are: ‘Be honest for once; represent the tree as good, and its fruit as good, or the tree as evil, and its fruit as evil; either say that I am evil, and that my works are evil, or, if you admit that my works are good, admit that I am good also and not in league with Beelzebub” (McGarvey, p. 304).
“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart”: Therefore, we need to get rid of all our excuses that attempt to justify evil words. The excuse, “I didn’t mean it”, “I didn’t realize what I was saying”, or “I wasn’t thinking”.
Words that Justify and Condemn: Matthew 12:37
Do we routinely speak words that will result in our being justified? Such as, “You can understand the Bible”, “You can obey God”, or “You can resist temptation”?
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017