Growing Hatred To Jesus

Scripture Reading: Matthew 12: 22-32, 38-42

The heart of Christ was a great magnet that ever drew to it all human suffering and human need. The description given of Him in a quotation from Isaiah (42:3), in the verses immediately preceding this incident, are wonderfully suggestive. His compassion and His gentleness are depicted in the words,

A bruised reed shall He not break,
And smoking flax shall He not quench?

This prophetic picture of the Messiah found its perfect realization in the life of Jesus. He was the friend of the frail, the feeble, and the bruised. In those days men despised the weak. The deformed and the incurable were not considered worth saving, but were thrust out to perish. Jesus, however, had special compassion for that which was crushed or broken. He invited the weary to come to Him. The sick, the lame, the blind, the paralyzed and all sufferers soon learned that He was their friend. Wherever He went throngs followed Him, and these throngs were made up largely of those who were distressed and those who had brought distressed friends to be helped or healed.

Now it was one possessed with a demon, and also blind and dumb, that was brought to Him. Nothing is told of the manner of the cure. All we learn is that “He healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb spake and saw.” No wonder the multitudes were amazed. “Is not this the son of David?” they asked. They thought that possibly a man who did such wonders might be the Messiah, yet it did not seem to them that He was. Or it may be that they feared to give expression to the feeling, knowing how bitter the Pharisees were against Him.

When the Pharisees heard what the people were suggesting, they became greatly excited and set to work to account for Jesus and His power. They felt that they must account for Him in some way, just give the multitude some explanation of Him which would satisfy them and prevent their concluding that He was the Messiah. In Mark’s account of this incident we learn that there were scribes and Pharisees present that day who had come down from Jerusalem to watch Jesus and to make a report of what they saw and heard. They set to work to create in the minds of the people the impression that Jesus was working in cooperation with evil spirits and that it was through their power that He did the wonders they had seen Him do. So they answered the people’s question, “Is not this the son of David?” by saying, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the price of devils.” Beelzebub seems to have been an infamous name for Satan, probably having its origin in the story of Ahaziah’s idolatry in inquiring of Baal-zebub, lord of flies, a Philistine deity (see 2 Kgs.1).

One thing to notice here is the admission that Jesus had really done wonderful works, had actually wrought miracles. They did not attempt to deny this. They felt that some explanation must be given to the plain, simple-minded people who were following Jesus in such numbers. There was no doubt about the supernatural works. We find the same admission throughout the whole story of Christ’s public ministry. Herod believed that Jesus had wrought miracles, and in his remorse imagined that John, whom he had beheaded, had risen from the dead. No opponent of Christ in those days ever even hinted that He did no miracles.

Another thing to notice here is the strange explanation these learned men gave of the miracles of Jesus. They frankly admitted them, but to account for them without confessing that He was the Messiah they said that He was in league with the prince of evil. The giving of such an explanation of the power of Christ shows a prejudice that was not only stubborn but debased. Of course, it was intended also to discredit Jesus by impugning His character. They said He was an agent of the devil. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and said He was doing His Father’s will and the works of His Father. They sought thus to slander Him and make him an imposter, an enemy of God.

Wicked men often resort to the same course in our own days when they are seeking to destroy the influence of Christianity. They cannot deny the good that is done, but they seek to account for it by alleging wrong motives in those who do the good. Sometimes they try to blacken the names of those who represent Christ. They start evil stories about them, to defame their character. That is, they accuse the saints of being in league with Satan.

The answer of Jesus to this charge is clear and convincing. “Jesus knew their thoughts.” He understood well their motives. He knows all men’s thoughts. We can carry on no schemes or conspiracies without His knowing of them. We can keep no secrets from Him. His answer was: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation.” This proved at once the absurdity and preposterousness of the charge His enemies had made. They said He was an agent of Satan. Yet He was not doing the work of Satan, but the work of God. Satan had a man under his power whom he was destroying. Jesus had taken the man, driven out the demon, opened his eyes and ears and healed him. Who could believe that He was in league with the Devil and was thus undoing the Devil’s ruinous work? “If Satan casteth out Satan; he is divided against himself.” This shows the folly of their charge. All the works of Christ were good works. He came to bless men, to save them, to heal the sick, to make the lame walk, to raise the dead. Are those the works of the Evil One?

One of the most frequently misunderstood of all the word which Jesus spoke is found in His reply to His defamers: �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.� Does not this seem to refer to the act of the Pharisees in imputing to the prince of evil works which Jesus had done through the Spirit? One writes, �The conclusion of the whole is — you are on Satan�s side, and knowingly on Satan�s side, in this decisive struggle between he two kingdoms, and this is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost — an unpardonable sin.�

Thousands of people, however, have stumbled at this word of Christ’s and fallen into great darkness, fearing that they themselves had sinned a sin which never could be forgiven. There is not the slightest reason why this saying of Christ should cause anxiety to any who are sincerely striving to follow Christ. It may be said that those who have any anxiety concerning themselves and their spiritual state may be sure that they have not committed such a sin. If they had, they would have no anxiety. Actually, the only unforgivable sin is the sin of final impenitence. All sin that is confessed and repented of will be forgiven. “This sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is unforgivable because the soul which can recognize God’s revelation of Himself in all His goodness and moral perfection, and be stirred only to hatred thereby, has reached a dreadful climax of hardness, and has ceased to be capable of being influenced by His beseeching. It has passed beyond the possibility of penitence and acceptance of forgiveness. The sin is unforgiven because the sinner is fixed in impenitence, and his stiffened will cannot bow to receive pardon.”

“Much torture of heart would have been saved if it had been observed that the Scripture expression is not sin, but blasphemy. Fear that it has been committed is proof that it has not; for if it has been there will be no relenting in enmity nor any wish for deliverance.”*

Expositions of Holy Scriptureby Alexander Maclaren

Accustomed as we are to think of the gentleness of Jesus, His lips ever pouring out love, it startles us to read such words as He uses here in speaking to the scribes and Pharisees who were contending with Him. “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” We are reminded of the manner of the Baptist’s speech, when he was calling men to repent. But we must not forget that love is holy, that roses become coals of fire when they fall upon unholiness.

The scribes and Pharisees demanded a sign, something that would assure them that Jesus was what He claimed to be. Sincere and earnest inquirers after truth always find Christ most patient in answering their questions and making their real difficulties plain. When Thomas could not believe on the testimony of the other disciples, and demanded to see for himself the hands with the print of the nails, Jesus dealt with him most patiently (John 20:24-28). He is always gentle with honest doubt and quick to make the evidence plain to it. But the men who here demanded a sign were not honest seekers after truth. Jesus knew their thoughts and spoke to them in words of judgment. They were an evil and an adulterous generation — estranged from God, false to Him. They had had signs, but they had disregarded them. Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, and before them now was a great Preacher than Jonah. The queen of the South came from afar to hear the Wisdom of Solomon, and a greater Man than Solomon now stood before them. But they believed not, repented not. Impenitence gets no sign.