*How did Jesus confront those possessed of demons?
*What accusation did the Pharisees hurl against Jesus?
*How do a man’s words reveal the man?
*Who is God’s true family?
*What is the lesson from the Parable of the Sower?
Jesus occasionally encountered demons during His ministry. In Matthew 12:22-23 we read, “Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?” While modern skeptics doubt the existence of demons, Jesus demonstrated that demon possession was a very real thing. The people, also, recognized the power of God by what Jesus did and gave glory to God by calling Him “the son of David”-a Messianic title.
This did not sit well with the Pharisees, who retorted, “. . . This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils” (v. 24). They accused Jesus of being in league with Satan, and that He was merely performing a stunt in order to deceive the people. “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (vv. 25-26). Jesus’ reply was that if this saw what He was doing, Satan’s kingdom was sure to fail; a divided house cannot stand. Then Jesus put the Pharisees on the spot. He asked them, “And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges” (v. 27). Jewish exorcists regularly cast out demons. If they could accomplish this by a long, elaborate process, recognized as perfectly legitimate by the Pharisees, then why should they attribute what Jesus did to Satan? He then followed this statement by essentially three arguments.
The first of these arguments was that if casting out demons was done in some manner with Satan, then Satan would be working against himself. By working against himself, Satan would be doing himself harm. He would not do this. The second argument was that if Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebub, then by whom do the exorcists cast them out? If this is your argument, then the exorcists will also refute you, because you will be accusing them of the same. And thirdly, the power which Jesus used to cast out demons was the Spirit of God. It was a power much more effective than the practice of exorcism and proved beyond doubt that Christ was more powerful than Satan. This was why He said, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house” (Matt. 12:28-29). An intruder needs more power than a householder in order to overcome him. Christ had proved He had more power than Satan by casting out the demon. So, the Pharisaical argument that Christ was in collusion with Satan was completely fatuous. There was nothing to it.
Next, Christ laid out a choice. Either accept and follow Him or belong to those who scatter and destroy (v. 30). But know this, “. . . All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy [Spirit] shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy [Spirit], it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matt. 12:31-32). The Pharisaic accusation that Jesus was in league with Satan was tantamount to blaspheming the Holy Spirit. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit means to belittle the workings of the Spirit of God, to reject, to impugn, to mock, to criticize. What the Holy Spirit accomplishes cannot be evil or wicked. By its very essence the Holy Spirit represents holiness, goodness, righteousness, kindness, and love (Gal. 5:22). To reject the working of the Holy Spirit means to reject God, and one who rejects God has no forgiveness now or in the future.
When Jesus cast out the demon from the man, the witnesses saw an act of kindness and love-freeing the man from the intolerable burden of oppression and misery. How could this be anything other than supreme love? Yet, this act of love was criticized. Yes, Jesus said, they could criticize the Son of Man and not be condemned, but not so with the Holy Spirit. The only way by which one can come to a knowledge of the truth and to real repentance is by means of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). To reject that Spirit is to reject the only means by which one can come to repentance. Without repentance there can be no salvation (2 Pet. 3:9). Rejection of the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven because those guilty cannot repent. One who does so rejects the only way by which he can come to repentance and conversion. One who cannot repent is doomed!
The choice is clear, Jesus instructs. Either produce good fruit or produce bad fruit. The two cannot mix (Matt. 12:33). The fruit of the Pharisees was corrupt, fully seen by what came out of their mouths. “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word [that which is without foundation] that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:35-36). What comes out of the mouth will sooner or later give one away. The conclusion, then, will be obvious for all to see. And what will be the result? “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (v. 37). A serious warning-this. But, it does show the danger in following the example of the Pharisees-attributing the works of God to Satan!
Another teaching of Jesus is found in this same chapter.
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother (Matt. 12:46-50).
Jesus taught that the real family, the one that really counts, is spiritual, that those who belong to God’s spiritual family are those who obey God. They are those who do the will of God.
In Matthew, chapter thirteen, is a very important teaching of Jesus. It is commonly referred to as the parable of the sower.
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side [path, road], and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matt. 13:3-9).
What did Jesus mean by this parable? Not even the disciples understood until He explained the meaning to them privately.
. . . The disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables. . . . Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:10-13, 18).
Here is the meaning.
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matt. 13:19-23).
So, what do we see?
We see four classes of people. We see those whose hearts are superficial; we see those who have no real determination and stick-to-itiveness; we see those who allow the truth of God to be smothered by what the world has to offer; and finally, we see those who are truly dedicated to God, who bring forth fruits of righteousness. The fact is, Jesus said, the majority who receive the Word of God will fail to produce fruit for one reason or another. Only a minority will succeed. This is the lesson and warning that Jesus gave in this parable.