22 Then was brought to him one that was possessed by a demon, blind, and dumb: and he healed him insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
23 And the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub the prince of the demons. (Matt 12:22-24)
Jesus came first to the lost sheep of the house of Isreal; His work was to destroy the works of the devil in their midst. This story commences with a clear, and personified lesson in His work in the nation.
The man brought to Jesus was demonized, but when Christ cast the demon out, the man who had been blind, and unable to speak could now do both. Let us see this in the metophiric sense for the momment: this healing was the perfect snapshot of His ministry in Israel; let me break it down just quickly:
Jesus came to:
- Destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8)
- Open the eyes of the blind (spiritually speaking – that they may see the kingdom of God (John 9:39))
- Open the mouth of His disciples that they may testify to the glory of God (Acts 10:42)
In a single action, Jesus revealed the full accomplishment of His ministereal purpose in the earth; the people seeing it naturally assumed that He must, indeed, be the Messiah – the Son of David. They could see that these things were the evident work of God.
But the Pharisees, not wanting to entertain the possibility that Jesus was the Messiah made their public judgment; one which seems rather off-handed and cavalier. Their response seems like the standard modern cessationist’s response to someone whose ministry includes miracles: ‘Ah, their just a show-man; charlatan…’ and of anything undeniably supernatural: ‘It’s demonic!’
Jesus first responded to their accusation by pointing out how ridiculous their statement was: If Satan is going around casting demons out of people, then he is fighting against his own works, and kingdom (v. 26). Destroying Satan’s work is obviously the power and work of the Spirit of God (v. 28)!
Their statement was so obsurd that it betrayed the fact that their intention was only to deny Jesus was the Messiah in the face of His miracles – they revealed the intents of their hearts with the words of their mouth. In fact, if they had accused Jesus of wielding demonic power on the basis of any other miracle – besides casting out demons – their allegation may have had some power to stick. But it is obvious to any reasoning person that Satan would not attack his own minions for perpetrating his disabling will on humanity.
After easily pointing out the obsurdity of their error, Jesus went on to warn them of some very serious things:
31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost SHALL NOT BE FORGIVEN UNTO MEN.
32 And whosoever speaeketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaeketh against the Holy Ghost IT SHALL NOT BE FORGIVEN HIM, NEITHER IN THIS WORLD, NOR IN THE WORLD TO COME.
33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
Let’s first realize that after deflating their argument, Jesus immediately jumps to this intensely… well, condemning lesson. Jesus pulls out a big debate no-no, and jumps to essentially accusing the Pharisees of commiting the only unforgiveable blasphemy.
Now, hang on: is that really what He’s saying? Haven’t we heard teaching on this before which takes the teeth out of His statement – surely He’s just warning them to beware lest they commit the unpardonable sin, right?
Let’s make sure we don’t negate the context: the Pharisees accuse Jesus of performing the works of God by the power of Satan. Their foolish statement has already publically condemned the work of the Holy Spirit AS SATANIC.
Now Jesus states in no uncertain terms (and lest any misunderstand, He says it TWICE) that the only unforgiveable sin is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Remember the context: Jesus also declares that even blaspheming Messiah is forgiveable – but to see God’s work in evidence, and the kingdom of God overcoming the devil, and call it evil is to align oneself with the kingdom of Satan – it is to not only reject God’s salvation, but to condemn that salvation as evil.
As Isaiah prophesied, it is to ‘call evil good, and good evil; to put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.’ (Is. 5:20 – see also post: Isaiah 5:8-30)
Here’s the other contextual point we oft look over: look at verse 33 again: Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
Here Jesus uses a parable: He speaks of the Holy Spirit as a tree which is producing fruit. Either the fruit is good – which proves that the tree is good, or the fruit is bad which proves that the tree is bad. The fruit of an evil spirit is corruption; i.e. the man was disabled – blind, and mute.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is good: ‘insomuch as the blind and dumb both spake and saw.’ (Be careful not to assume ministries with miracles are demonic.)
Now Jesus strikes the heart of the matter – and remember, He’s speaking to the Pharisees not the people generally who were convinced He was the Son of David:
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye being evil speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh
36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Jesus shows us the root of their plight. He understands that the Pharisees had not intended to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and that they made their judgment of-handedly in order to dismiss the idea that He was Messiah. Their flippant dismissal and illogical argument, however, were evidence of the wickedness in their hearts. Even their assumptive dismissal of the idea that Jesus was the Messiah was forgiveable – but the idle words of blasphemy (which were only meant to negate Jesus’ ministry in the momment) proved the contents of their heart and also condemned them.
The conversation continues when some of these scribes and Pharisees answer by asking Jesus to validate that His ministry is of God by showing them a sign (v. 38). I might point out that the whole conversation was predicated on Jesus casting out a demon which led to a formerly blind mute being tottaly healed of his disabilities. But Jesus doesn’t point that out; He’s been pointing it out to them the whole time: ‘THIS IS THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!’
No, instead of pointing out the obvious which the Pharisees are too hard-hearted to see, He goes into prophecy mode:
39 An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign [bear in mind, Jesus is still speaking to the Pharisees: the ‘generation’ he is speaking of is the ‘generation of vipers’ – the sanhedrin counsellors (v. 34; also Matt 3:7; 23:33; Luke 3:7)] and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Here Jesus begins to prophesy to these sanhedrin counsellors; He tells them that He will be dead three days – and in fact that the miracle-mystery of Jonah was a prophecy about Messiah’s death. He goes on with His prophecy to condemn the sanhedrin because the pagan Ninevites recieved the sign of Jonah the prophet, and repented; but when the Messiah, Himself came to the Jews the religious rulers rejected Him unto blasphemy (v. 41).
Likewise, when the testimony of Solomon’s wisdom was heard the pagan Queen converted to God, but when the sanherin counsellors saw Messiah they rejected the testimony of the Holy Spirit (v.42).
Now Jesus is not done prophesying. Now He uses the casting out of demons to show the plight of the generation who rejects Him.
43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
We ussually use this passage for its teaching on spiritual warfare, but the context hasn’t changed. This is the same conversation; Jesus is still prophesying to the Pharisees. Notice the last sentence. ‘Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.’
Jesus’ work is to the lost sheep of Israel. Here He is destroying the works of the devil, attempting to heal Israel – the nation. But the sanhedrin – the religious rulers – will kill Him (as He predicts) and in His death, He will defeat Satan in their midst once and for all. Yet, He predicts that the sanhedrin (the generation He is speaking to) will have a sevenfold demonization, AFTER Satan has wandered through dry places seeking rest.
Ah, but Christ is come, and those who recieve Him will enter into His kingdom – O come to Him, and repent as did the Ninevites! And convert as did the Queen of Sheeba! Escape the untoward generation of those who reject Messiah, and believe that ye may be healed!