(Today's post by Keith Senator)
Have you ever watched in a court proceeding when the lawyer urges the jury to consider the person on the stand is actually a liar. The lawyer may guide the witness through a series of questions and leave a pointed question in the juries mind that the witness is in fact not a credible person.
This is very similar to what the Pharisees were doing to Jesus in Matthew 12 (22-50). They were so bold as to say that Jesus was actually operating in the spirit of the devil himself. Wow, could you imagine working a crowd like that? Whew, that is some serious defensiveness. I mean I have heard of taking your enemy out with a single lethal blow, but this is taking it to the next level.
They couldn’t say Jesus did not do any healing. And they could not heal. So what must this mean?
In the courtroom setting, what if you had access to the truth. In addition, what if you had the most profound ability to communicate the very words of God, stringing words together that completely destroys the line of questioning and actually calls into question the integrity of the lawyer himself. What?
Well, if you haven’t read it in a while, turn to Matthew 12:22-37 to get a feel for how Jesus responds. He starts out with “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand”. Why does Jesus start down this path? He goes on to say that it is not possible that Satan would desire one of his workers cast out of an individual because it would be working against his cause. Then he turns to cast some light on the Pharisees, and inquires as to what name they cast out demons? Since Jesus and the Pharisees were clearly on opposite sides in this line of questioning, Jesus proves his efforts are of God, so what does that make of the Pharisees?
As if this wasn’t enough, Jesus paints the picture of a strongman’s house and if you wanted to steal his possessions, you would first need to bind him up. Then, once he has been bound, you can plunder at will. What a powerful analogy. This gives me a principle that works whether you aim to do good or evil. If you want to do good, you also need to bind the strong man, yes?
Jesus moves forward in this passage to speak of the sin about sinning again the son of man compared to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. I am no Bible scholar, but a Harvard Goodfellow once told me dumbed down way to think about it. He said it is essentially giving satan credit for something God has done. And this is an unpardonable sin, whew…heavy levy.
Jesus then goes into talking about a good tree and a bad tree. He talks about how good fruit comes from a good tree, and bad fruit comes from a bad tree. What I love about this analogy is how the tree’s fruit is evidence of that which is inside of the tree. Jesus calls the pharisees down on the carpet, laying out a case so profound that there is nothing they can say to counter.
Have you ever seen the movie Shrek. Well if you can get past innuendo and general raunchy vibes in the film, and decided that wasn’t enough, and decided to watch the second film, you would remember this scene.
“Do the roar” some of you may know the phrase, where Shrek was urged into showing himself in his fullness by a bratty kid. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPva9P4nBlI
His reputation preceded him and they just wanted to see him amaze them with his freakishly bold roar. This bratty kid kept pushing and pushing til BAM!, he get’s the roar all right, blowing his hair back.
Well, I know I may be in some serious trouble by comparing Jesus to Shrek. It may be the worst possible comparison ever made. But I think you will get the point. Again in Matthew 12:38-45, we see how Jesus responds to the Pharisees when they ask him to show them a sign.
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.
43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
I mean Jesus is nothing like Shrek really. I just did that because to me it is funny. In Shrek, the people wanted to see something freakish and unusual. I think in this case it is similar. However this is where the analogy falls apart because again Jesus lays down the gauntlet on the pharisees. They wanted to see the monster in the woods, and instead they were the monster in the woods.
Rounding out the rest of the chapter, Jesus was talking to the crowd and someone mentioned his family was outside and wanted to talk with him. His response may surprise you. He basically used this distraction as a further example of his true purpose on this earth.
48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
I am blown away by Jesus. 2000 years passed by and He is still blowing my doors off. The challenge for me in reading this passage is about my focus in life. It is clear that Jesus was about fulfilling his purpose on earth, set in motion by Father God in heaven. Are we about our father’s business? Are you focused like Jesus. What a great reminder today.