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Jesus and Beelzebub March 30, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 12:22-37.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus casts out a demon from a man who was blind and mute – healing him of his infirmities. Many are astonished by this miracle and wonder if Jesus is the Messiah. Yet the Pharisees dismiss this speculation, asserting that Satan is actually empowering Him.

Jesus responds by debunking this argument; in particular, He:

  • asserts that Satan would not be divided against himself
  • contrasts His genuine acts of healing with the counterfeit acts performed by Jewish exorcists.

Indeed, His acts of healing:

  • prove His superiority to Satan
  • are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Thus, they must either accept Him or reject Him. Those who reject Him – and the Holy Spirit – are eternally condemned by God the Father.

He concludes by asserting that their rejection of the Holy Spirit stems from the fact that they have not been renewed by God. Only those who have been renewed by God will acknowledge the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Jesus condemns those who reject the work of the Holy Spirit. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

The brighter the light, the greater the guilt of the person who rejects it; the clearer a person’s knowledge of the nature of the Gospel, the greater the sin in willfully refusing to repent and believe…Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, Judas Iscariot, the Emperor Julian and Francis Spira are fearful illustrations of our Lord’s meaning.

I was unfamiliar with Francis Spira before I read this section in Ryle’s commentary, and I was inspired to learn more about him. Perhaps his story highlights the importance of regular reflection on Christ’s finished work for our salvation. If we fail to meditate on this point, we might dwell on our inherent sinfulness and begin to question the truth of our salvation. Indeed, Satan constantly attempts to exploit the fact that almost two millennia have passed since Christ completed His work for our salvation; thus, we must combat this tempter on a daily basis – with the invaluable assistance of the Holy Spirit.

We also see that Jesus highlights the connection between our words and our hearts. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Let us be humble as we read this passage and recollect time past. How many idle, foolish, vain, light, frivolous, sinful and unprofitable things we have all said! How many words we have used which, like thistle-down, have flown far and wide and sown mischief in the hearts of others that will never die!

While these thoughts may be somewhat depressing, it is important to note that we will never be perfect in this life; we cannot hope to avoid speaking “unprofitable” words. Thus, we should consider this question: how can we maximize the profitability of our words? One thought is that we should:

  • attempt to pause before speaking
  • evaluate our thoughts and reject as many foolish notions as possible
  • attempt to consider the thoughts and feelings of our audience.

Of course, it is extremely difficult to execute these steps; we need constant grace as we navigate a thicket of misunderstandings.

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