Matthew 12:22 – Then a demon oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw.
We are plainly told that the cause of this man’s physical ailments was a demon. The demon prevented the man from seeing or speaking. He could not see Christ nor cry out/pray to him. Thus, he needed someone to physically bring him to Jesus.
Most scholars see a spiritual parallel in what happened to this man in the physical realm. Satan blinds the spiritual eyes of sinful people so they cannot see their need for a savior. He makes them deaf to the gospel message. He fills their mouths with all manner of awful speech, while rendering them unable to pray or cry out to God.
That means that the Christian, with the help of the Holy Spirit, must lead sinners to Christ. Think back to your own salvation experience. Who did God use to bring you to himself? Are you ready to help someone else?
Matthew 12:23 – And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”
By the phrase ‘Son of David’, they mean the Messiah. Two things bring them to this conclusion. One, Jesus was clearly a descendant of David. Two, Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would open blind eyes and heal deaf ears:
Isaiah 35:5 – then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
It is interesting to note that the crowds of ordinary Jews, who had no prejudice against Jesus, clearly saw the truth of who he was. The Scribes and Pharisees, who already decided to reject him, denied even the most obvious signs that he was the Messiah.
Matthew 12:24 – But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
The Scribes and Pharisees had already determined to reject Jesus as the Messiah. Indeed, they are confronting him at this moment in order to try and sway the masses into believing the same thing.
But it’s going to be a tough sell. The religious leaders cannot deny the actual miracle; the people are witnesses that the man can now see and speak. They also cannot deny that there has been an unquestionable demonstration of power, clearly beyond the means of any mortal man. This means that the Pharisees’ version of events must acknowledge that the healing occurred, and that it was done by supernatural means, but not by the Messiah.
There is really only one scenario that would fit all three of those criteria – Jesus casting out devils by the power of Beelzebul (Beelzebub), the worst and vilest of the devils. Beelzebub is the Lord of the flies, also known as the god of filth.
By putting forth this theory, the religious leaders were attempting to throw reproach or contempt on Jesus, as if this miracle was performed by some kind of evil magical enchantment (see Deuteronomy 13:1-3).
Matthew 12:25-26 – Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?”
Jesus refutes their accusations by following their claims to a logical conclusion.
A kingdom (or a city or even a family), can only prosper by living in a state of unity. If half of the kingdom is undoing what the other half does, it will accomplish nothing; it will fall apart. This is plain common sense!
Look at it this way: If a husband or wife is earning $75K a year, but the spouse is spending $75K in the same amount of time, what have they accomplished? Nothing, because each is undoing the work of the other.
If the president of a club is recruiting new members while the vice president is kicking people out at the same time, what will happen to the club? It will fall apart or cease to exist because the two leaders are working against each other.
In the same manner, if Satan is possessing people, but then gives Jesus authority to cure them, what has he accomplished? Nothing; his kingdom will fail.
Clearly, Jesus is not casting out demons by the power and authority of Satan. That leaves only one source for his power – Jehovah! And if Jesus has this supernatural power and authority from God then he is indeed the Messiah.
Matthew 12:27 – “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they will be your judges.”
Apparently, there were some disciples of the Scribes and Pharisees that were also casting out demons. So, if a man who casts out devils is in league with Satan, then by default the disciples of the religious leaders must also be in a league with the devil. Ha! We find that the religious leaders have ensnared themselves in their own trap!
Thus Jesus proves that the assertions of the Pharisees and Scribes are nothing more than lies, propagated by hatred and jealousy.
Matthew 12:28 – “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Jesus uses the present accusation to draw attention to a much larger issue – the kingdom of God has come. Since Jesus was casting out demons by the supernatural power of God, he was the Messiah. It was the will of God that the Messiah would come to bring salvation and reestablish his kingdom on earth among men.
By rejecting him as Messiah, the Jewish leaders have rejected the glorious salvation that God had prepared for them from before the foundations of the world! They are ungratefully and spitefully rejecting the very thing they have been waiting hundreds of years to get!
This is an awful tragedy, wouldn’t you agree? Hmmm… before we move on, perhaps we should look at this in light of our own spiritual lives. I know that we have not rejected salvation, but is it possible that there other spiritual gifts that God has prepared for us, which we have not yet accepted? The bible is very clear that God has other spiritual gifts (in addition to salvation) for each one of us.
1 Peter 4:10 – As every man has received a gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Has God given you the gift of encouragement, or teaching, or prophesy but you do not want to use that gift? Have you considered that not using it is the same as rejecting it?
What are we afraid of? Why do we hesitate to accept all that God has for us? Remember, the body of Christ is a single unit. So, if one person refuses to accept and operate in the gift God has given them, then the whole body will suffer.
Don’t be a Pharisee! Humbly accept what God has given you. Step out and answer the call. The church and the world both need the gift you have been given!
If you are not sure what your gift is, then pray about it. Paul encourages all believers to seek the gift of prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1), so that is a good place to begin. God promises that if you seek, you will find!
Matthew 12:29 –“Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.”
In this short parable, the strong man is Satan. He has dominion over the earth (his house) because man gave it to him in the Garden of Eden. The Messiah is the only one strong enough to bind Satan and restore men into the kingdom of heaven. The concept of ‘plundering’ Satan’s house speaks of the final and complete victory of Jesus over the devil.
Matthew 12:30 – Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Notice what Jesus is establishing here – there is no neutral ground. There are only two camps; God Almighty or the devil. You have to choose which side you are on.
The Pharisees were not helping to gather in God’s harvest of souls, therefore, they were scattering or opposing God.
I know that we have all chosen to be in God’s kingdom. But…what kind of kingdom workers are we? If you fail to use your spiritual gift, are you helping or hindering God’s great harvest?
Matthew 12:31-32–Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
These two verses have caused a lot of consternation among Christians. Let’s look at them together and see what we might discover.
Jesus speaks of ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come’. Remember that when these words were spoken, the old covenant (also known as the Law), was still in place. This is what is being referred to when Jesus says ‘this age’.
If ‘this age’ was the old covenant, the ‘age to come’ refers to the new covenant of grace, which began when Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead.
Before we talk about sin that cannot be forgiven (blasphemy), let’s establish that all other insults directed at Jesus could be forgiven. And insult him they did! As you recall, the religious leaders scorned his humble birth and his citizenship in Nazareth. They falsely accused him of being a glutton, reviled him for eating with publicans and sinners, criticized him for not fasting and publicly denounced him for allegedly breaking the Sabbath. The list goes on and on. Again, the religious leaders can be forgiven for denouncing/rejecting Jesus, assuming they repent.
Now, what is the sin that cannot be forgiven? The sin which the Pharisees were committing was that of denouncing/rejecting the Holy Spirit. They were maliciously and stubbornly giving Satan credit for the miracles clearly performed by divine power. In essence, they were alleging that the highest displays of God’s mercy and power were the work of the devil. This is a direct insult to the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit by which Jesus performed his miracles.
Why is this transgression unforgivable, when all the rest can be atoned for? It’s not because there is a defect or a lack in the work of Christ; it is because the Holy Spirit is the only one who can convict men of sin, and lead them to the blood of Jesus for forgiveness. Thus, if they scorn the Holy Spirit, they are rejecting the only possible means of forgiveness of sin.
The law is a powerful word from God. The life of Jesus was a more powerful work; He was the Word incarnate. The Holy Spirit is the most powerful work of all; it was by his power that Jesus was raised from the dead and it is He who convicts men of sin. There is no greater or more powerful display of God yet to come to earth! No other path to salvation will be given! Therefore, if men denounce the Holy Spirit, they have no door to salvation; they cannot be forgiven.
For those of us living in the age of grace, this means that we can be forgiven for any and every sin we commit, as long as we truly repent. There is nothing so bad that the blood of Christ cannot wash it white as snow (Isaiah 1:18), or cast it as far from us as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12).
To blaspheme the Holy Spirit one must reject the conviction he brings to bear on one’s heart. By rejecting that call to repentance, we reject our only means of salvation and thus we cannot be forgiven.
So, if you are a Christian you do not need to be worried that you have committed the unpardonable sin of rejecting salvation. Don’t let Satan put a spirit of fear into you; whatever you have done, ask Jesus to forgive you and he will!
Matthew 12:33 – 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.
Jesus and the religious leaders are once again in conflict. Jesus says his works are of God, the Pharisees say his works are of the devil. How can the common people know who to believe?
Jesus makes things very clear and simple by comparing a man to a tree. The man is the tree, his heart is like the roots, his words and conduct are the fruit. Thus we find that if the root (heart) of a man is good, he will speak good things and do good works (produce good fruit).
Likewise, if his root (heart) is evil, he will speak evil things and do wicked works (produce bad fruit).
So take a good look at both Jesus and the Pharisees.
Jesus’ entire ministry has been to proclaim the kingdom of heaven, to heal all those who came to him, to cast out demons and to feed the crowds both physical and spiritual food.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, have exhibited pride, bitterness and envy over Jesus ministry. Their words and actions have been consistently corrupt, even to the point of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
It should be easy for the common people to decide who to follow.
This same truth is still applicable today. We too can look at a person’s actions and words to gain understanding of what is in their heart.
Matthew 12:34-35 –You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.
Again, we are told that wicked words and sinful actions spring from a heart of evil.
Holy words and good deeds spring from a heart that is righteous.
Notice that Jesus is not speaking out of anger or hate; he is merely declaring the true character of the religious leaders. Even in this present day we can discern the character of a person by examining their words and deeds.
Matthew 12:36-37 – I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
What is an idle or careless word? This refers to speech that is vain or useless; words that accomplish no good. It also includes words that are false, malicious, injurious or otherwise wicked. This was the character of the Pharisees speech when they accused Jesus of casting our devils by the power of Beelzebub.
Before we point fingers and shame the Pharisees, we need to understand that we too are guilty of sinning with our speech. Consider this:
Jesus is telling us that God takes notice of every word we say, even when we pay no attention.
How often do we speak without thinking? Social media has created a platform where people can tell the whole world anything that they think or feel, the moment they think or feel it, without any buffer. As a result, we find mass quantities of idle, frivolous, careless speech at work in the lives of people every day.
Again, take note: If your speech is not profitable, that is, if it does not edify, instruct or lift up, then it is idle. And while we can and should keep a watch on our lips, we also need to check our hearts. We need to get a handle on our personal holiness. If our heart is clean, our speech will be too.
Psalms 139:4 – Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
Not only does God take notice of every word we speak, he is displeased with talk that is vain, idle or trifling. This includes words that are coarse, vulgar, scornful and rebellious.
Ephesians 5:4 – Let there be no filthiness, or foolish talk, nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Not to beat the dead horse here, but Jesus just told the Pharisees this: ‘For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’. Think back over today and yesterday. Can you assess the words that came out of your mouth? What conclusions can you draw about your heart based on the words you spoke?
Are our words really that important? The bible says they are:
Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those that love it will eat its fruits.
It doesn’t take much thought to realize that our words should be closely supervised! My guess is that we can ALL be better stewards of our lips.
So let me offer you some encouragement: Jesus says that no house divided against itself will fall. The opposite must also be true – if a house is united, it will stand. Is your house a Christian one? Are you and your spouse both believers? If so, I would strongly encourage you to study the word and pray together. It will bring you closer together and strengthen your marriage bond.
I also encourage you to take time and decide in advance how to handle your finances or how to address issues with your kids. Tough times will still come, but you will have so much more strength and peace in the midst of the storm if you are united in your decisions.
Let me offer you some relief: In this lesson, we noted that the religious leaders rejected the gift of salvation that God had prepared for them before the world began. How tragic! Yet, at the same time, God has prepared spiritual gifts for each one of us. If we fail to use them, it is the same as rejecting them!
You don’t need to be afraid to use your spiritual gifts. I guarantee that you will make mistakes as you learn to walk in the gifts the Holy Spirit has placed within you. But let me relieve some of your fears – it’s okay to make mistakes! Speak to a spiritual mentor and be open to advice on how to correctly begin to walk in the gifts of the Spirit. That way, you don’t need to be afraid to walk in them, and others don’t need to be afraid of what you might do!
Let me offer you some strength: Our words and speech play a very significant role not only our lives, but the lives of those around us. They can be a witness for Christ, or they can work for the devil. Without doubt, it takes commitment to correctly steward the things that come out of our mouths. But don’t be discouraged; start small. Begin by reading and meditating on the scriptures that deal with your tongue. Make one small change at a time, and don’t give up. God will grant you the strength to win the battle of the tongue!