Truth Taught- Jesus does something only the Messiah could do and still the lost refuse to believe.
Last time we looked together at the Servant Songs from Isaiah. We saw in them clear prophecies zeroing in on Jesus as God’s Servant and as the Messiah. Verse after verse pointed to the identity of Jesus being the fulfillment of the Messiah passages. Jesus proved it time and time again. Matthew wants his readers to see that truth. Many do see it and believe but most don’t.
Our Lord has already made it one of His goals to go out and defy tyrants. He would not go along with their man made laws, which were no more than their attempt to resist God and His true law. Jesus had defied their false teaching…
He refused their demands made concerning the Sabbath. He went against their attempts to set Him up and always turned the tables on them. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, they asked Him…He healed on the Sabbath, so I guess it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. He went on to tell them He is Lord of the Sabbath. What’s more, He declared that He is also greater than the Temple. He corrects their theology and gives them rhetorical rebukes…Have you not read? Do you not understand? The Pharisees hated Jesus. This is the sentiment that is building fast.
Do you see the beginning of this massive conflict that will soon take Jesus to the cross? They went out to scheme how they could destroy Him.
Matthew 12:22–37 (ESV)
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. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 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. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 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. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 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.
1. One Event with Two Conclusions (12:22-24)
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. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
This is a passage where Jesus wants His hearers do come to a conclusion based on the evidence they observe and have observed. Notice He doesn’t say whether or not He’s the Son of David, whether or not He’s the Messiah, whether or not He, Himself is possessed by Satan or by what power He casts out demons. He rather wants the crowd to believe based on what they have seen. We too must conclude based on the logic of Jesus whether He is the Son of David or not.
Let’s look together at this text. The fact is that the man who was demon possessed and blind and mute is now free of the demon, he can see, and he can talk. The evidence came to the crowd by way of observation. Everyone saw the demon possessed man and saw his condition. He was blind and could not speak.
Jesus casts out the demon and the man could now see and speak. So, there was no question that day whether or not the man had been healed, no one doubts that a genuine miracle has occurred. The crowd and the Pharisees saw the same event and the same results, namely after Jesus did whatever He did (we are not told what words He spoke) the man was now seeing and speaking.
The difference lies in their conclusions. Where the conclusions are different is where did Jesus get the power to do this? Matthew does this very well. He shows us the distinct difference; in fact, the conclusions are exactly the opposite concerning where Jesus got the power to do this miracle.
The people are amazed and they conclude that Jesus is the Son of David or we would say, the Messiah. Their conclusion is based on information they have from the OT, from current teaching and from what they just saw occur.
The OT tells us that in the days of the Messiah there will be great healing miracles…
Isaiah 35:5–6 (ESV)
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
Jesus does this over and over again. This time it’s a little different, the blindness and the fact that the man also cannot speak comes from what had been known in ancient days as a dumb or mute demon.
The act of casting out demons was not all that unusual in the Jewish world of that day. Even the Pharisees, rabbis, and their followers had the ability to, on occaision, cast out demons. But casting out demons within the framework of Pharisaic Judaism required one to use a specific ritual, which included three stages. First, the exorcist would have to establish communication with the demon, for when a demon speaks, he uses the vocal cords of the person he indwells. Second, after establishing communication with the demon, the exorcist would then have to find out the demon’s name. Third, after finding out the demon’s name, he could, by the use of that name, cast out the demon. There are occasions that Yeshua used the Jewish methodology, as in Mark 5, when He, being confronted with a demoniac, asked the question, What is your name? The answer on that occasion was, My name is Legion for we are many.
However, there was one kind of demon against which Judaism’s methodology was powerless, and that was the kind of demon who caused the controlled person to be dumb or mute. And, because he could not speak, there was no way of establishing communication with this kind of a demon; no way of finding out this demon’s name. So, within the framework of Judaism, it was impossible to cast out a dumb demon. The rabbis had taught, however, that when the Messiah came, He would be able to cast out this type of demon. This is exactly the kind of demon Jesus casts out.
In verse 23 that raised the very question among the Jewish masses, which the miracle was intended to raise: And all the multitudes were amazed, and said, Can this be the son of David?
Was this not the Jewish Messiah? After all, He was doing the very things they had been taught from childhood that only the Messiah would be able to do. They never asked this question when Yeshua casts out other types of demons. However, when He casts out a dumb demon, they raised the question because they recognized from the teachings of the rabbis that this was a messianic miracle.
The crowds were gathering around Jesus this meant that the people were leaving the Pharisees and their control. There was no denying the fact that a legitimate miracle had just taken place but because the Pharisees were loosing control of the people and their system of oppressive religion was threatened they resort to a smear campaign. Their response is to try to get the people to go against Jesus by claiming that He has the power to cast out this kind of demon through the prince of demons, namely, Satan himself.
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
Here, in their panicked attempt to discredit Jesus they cross the line.
2. Jesus’ Further Logic (12:25-27)
25 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. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
A. A Divided Kingdom Cannot Stand
Here is today’s liberals in action. Their claims are not based on any facts or any logic. Their strategy is that if they say something loud enough and repeat it long enough the masses will begin to believe it. If they plaster it all over the media, print it and preach it the masses will begin to believe it. Even if what they are saying goes against all science, all observable proof, and all reasoning. Here’s what they said, Jesus is actually doing all these miracles by the power of Satan. Their claim has not one shred of proof. Their logic is flawed. If they are those who are working on God’s behalf (That’s their error) and they cannot cast out the demon but Jesus can then He must be playing for the other team. The real issue is they are on Satan’s side and don’t even know it.
The slander is ridiculous and unreasonable. If their claims were true then Satan would be working against Satan. Our Lord’s point is no power or force works against itself. It’s as foolish as a basketball game where one team has half it’s players wearing the jerseys of the other team and you have eight against two. No house or kingdom can stand if they are opposed to each other from within.
B. By What Power Do You Cast Out Demons?
Here’s the point: If the Pharisees also cast out demons and they say Jesus is satanic for casting out demons, and they’re doing the same thing then, what explanation do they have for engaging in the same behavior?
You see, when the Pharisees said Jesus is casting out demons by the power of Satan they are in fact, condemning themselves because they practice the same thing.
I love to read how Jesus, by way of reason and logic, does battle with just words. The Pharisees loose every argument and their blood boils.
3. The Kingdom of God is Here and There is No Neutrality
28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 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. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 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.
The right conclusion is that when people saw Jesus cast out demons then He is showing that God’s Kingdom has power over Satan’s kingdom. God’s Kingdom is not divided and it is destroying Satan’s kingdom.
28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. The Kingdom of God is present when the King is present.
Jesus has just entered Satan’s house and bound him and Jesus is carrying out the spoil. This blind and mute man used to be one of Satan’s trophies. No more! Jesus has broken into Satan’s world and taken back what is rightfully his. This man now has become one of Jesus’ trophies.
Luke gives us another wonderful example of how Jesus comes and takes back a trophy for God’s glory.
Luke 13:10–17 (ESV)
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
Why is it when Jesus restores one who is being tormented by Satan and his demons that the Pharisees always want to find a problem with it? I want you to notice something; they are always siding with Satan. They are on his side. They are fighting for Satan to continue to have this trophy for at least another day. Jesus is knocking over Satan’s trophy case and the Pharisees are trying to pick them up and set them back on the shelf! They are on the side of Satan.
Jesus was gathering redeemed men and women for God’s glory. He was the One who was all about releasing them from the grip of the devil. Jesus was gathering. The Pharisees were scattering. They were leading the people to the slaughter. One by one like a wild life video and the predators are looking for that one sheep out off by itself, they were Satan’s workers. Teaching the people wrong things and pushing them out so that the devil could pounce.
Jesus tells them and the crowd that all sin can be forgiven. All sin, that is, except theirs. All blasphemy can be forgiven except one. What is the unpardonable sin? What sin is so horrible that God will never forgive it?
In this context, what were the Pharisees doing? They had just witnessed this amazing miracle along with everyone else. The unmistakable conclusions should have been that Jesus has just done a wonderful work in the power of God. He is the Messiah praise the name of the Lord! What was their conclusion? The Holy Spirit didn’t do this Satan did. Our leader accomplished this great miracle not the Holy Spirit. By reaching their eternally wrong conclusion they have shown that they are on the side of Satan. In spite of the evidence they attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. They refuse to repent and side with God they are the scatterers and because they refuse to give the Holy Spirit credit where truth is evident they have given up any hope of salvation. God will not forgive nor will He save anyone who refuses to acknowledge His truth and repent of their sin. Their attitude was Hey! We are not the sinners, He is!
In the Pharisees, there was no sorrow for sin. Instead they were arrogant and conspired rather than repented.
Acts 7:51–53 (ESV)
51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is when people hear the truth of God in the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit has that portion of truth and the people shove back in His face by their utter rejection. Here the Pharisees saw the manifestation of the work of the Spirit. This man could see and speak and they refused the truth that this was such a wondrous work of God but instead wanted to credit their god with it. They are aligned with the devil and there is no forgiveness available for the devil’s people. They will reject every truth that would grant them forgiveness.
Not only were they rejecting and blaspheming God but they were leading others to do the same.
32 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.
They were the teachers of Israel and they were always rejecting God’s Spirit and speaking against Him.
In Matthew 12, the Pharisees are questioning the validity of Christ’s claim as God’s Son. He had performed miracles among them, and they couldn’t deny His power. They knew about the messianic prophecies, and they knew that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. But because of their pride, dead hearts, and unbelief, they accuse Jesus of acting by the power of Satan.
Jesus responds by first showing them how illogical it would be for Him to cast out demons if He were acting by their own power. Then He gives them a warning. They had come perilously close to crossing a line that would lead to their eternal damnation. The question, of course, is what was that line? The Pharisees were knowledgeable of the prophecies, but they refused to acknowledge the truth when they saw it. Not only that, they publicly rejected Jesus’ claims and said He was demonic. Jesus said that anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Blasphemy involves actively attributing the works of God to Satan, and doing so in spite of the facts and in unbelief.
It is willfully saying the truth is not the truth even though it has been made evident by the Spirit. The consequence of this willful rejection of what one knows to be true is a hardening of the heart. The person who has blasphemed the Holy Spirit does not worry about whether he has committed the unforgivable sin. His heart is hard, and there is no hope for him and will not be forgiven.
I want to offer this as a comfort to those who are afraid they’ve committed such a sin, and it is a warning to those who know the truth but despise it.
Where are you today?
Are you amazed by the power and work of Christ in the gospels confirmed to us by the Holy Spirit? Do you believe all the truth found in the Bible?
Or are you indifferent or a skeptic when it comes to the truths we read that are every bit as much proven as this man’s healing and yet you still will not believe. Be very careful there is a line and once it’s crossed there is no turning back, repentance and forgiveness will no longer be offered.
Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary
A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles
A Gospel of Matthew by France
Matthew by Craig Bloomberg
Matthew by Doriani
Matthew by Charles Price
Matthew by Leon Morris
Albert Mohler Matthew 12
Blue Letter Bible