September 15th, 2021 – Matthew 12:24

Verse of the Day Devotion  Matthew 12:24  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.  

Today we will look at the Parable regarding Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit.  Here is this parable as found in Matthew’s gospel.

But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons. And knowing their thoughts He said to them, Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?  And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” Matthew 12:24-30.

First, it is importance to note that the Jewish leaders repeat their earlier charge; for Beelzebul, also called Beelzebub. Interestingly, this charge persisted as a common view of Jesus among Jews in the early centuries of the Christian era. They did not deny the genuineness of his miracles but ascribed his power to the devil, so that he was branded worthy of death.  Therefore, these Pharisees publicly pronounced the same charge after Jesus cast a demon out of a man. “Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” Matthew 12:22-23.  Here, we see the people amazed and questioning whether Jesus could be the Messiah. The Pharisees could not allow this to happen, so they came forth with their blasphemous accusation. “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” 

Jesus, knowing their thoughts and purposes, answers them.  “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?” Matthew 12:25-26.  What He essentially was saying is that internal conflict within a country, city, or even a family will tear it apart, or leave it ruined, if left unchecked.  Jesus concludes that because demonization promotes Satan’s designs, Satan would not himself seek to cast out demons. He would be undermining his own work.

Moreover, Jesus is not the only exorcist in the area. “And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges.” Matthew 12:27.  Other Jews practiced exorcism as well. In the schools of the Pharisees, a so-called higher magic was taught, by which demons were to be expelled and drawn out of the noses of persons possessed, by means of certain roots, by exorcism and by magical formulas, supposed to have been derived from king Solomon. Without evaluating this state of affairs, Jesus points out that the logic of the charge against him condemns those making it. If Satan is the one who enables exorcisms, then other Jewish exorcists must also be devilish. Jesus’ accusers judge their own sons/disciples by their accusations. 

Then He adds, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Matthew 12:28.  What this implies is that the coming of the kingdom is to be discerned in Jesus’ defeat of the demons. Mostly Matthew speaks of the kingdom as future, but here it is a present reality.  He then ends this with two analogies.  “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” Matthew 12:29. One cannot attack a well-protected home without first rendering the guard powerless. So, too, Jesus must first bind Satan before he can plunder or lay hold of his house, for example cast out his demons.  And finally, He declares that “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” Matthew 12:30.  This must be balanced by “For he who is not against us is for us.” Mark 9:40.  The point here is that Christ leaves no room for neutral ground. If people cannot accept his teaching and work, they are in danger of God’s judgment.  And the last part of this. “and he who does not gather with Me scatters” has the idea that He who does not help the true shepherd to gather his flock into the fold is, most likely, one who wishes to scatter them, that he may have the opportunity of stealing and destroying them.

The thought here is that He is explaining to the Pharisees that He casts our demons by the Holy Spirit and not by Satan, as they said to Him.  This was basically saying that the power by which He did this was Satan himself.  And by alluding to the Spirit in Him as Satan was essentially blaspheming the Holy Spirit.  And when this is done, this cannot be forgiven. “Therefore, I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.”  Matthew 12:31-32. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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