Carelessness (Matthew 12:36)

Photo by Luca Onniboni on Unsplash

You can tell a lot about the worldview of a person by the way they talk. The   words they use when they speak, the way they put their thoughts together and what they speak for or against all point to how they interpret the world they inhabit in both body and mind. So when Jesus tells the Pharisees, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken,” we learn something about Him. 

We read that sentence and know that He believed in a literal day of judgment. Moreover, He believed that what we say and how we say it will have a rather significant impact on what happens during that day of judgment! That’s not something to be overlooked. Jesus is God the Son. He knows what He is talking about – in fact, He is The Authority on such things!

To this very point Jesus testifies, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.” Jesus only said what he heard the Father say, and He only said it the way the Father told Him to say it. That wasn’t because Jesus didn’t have a mind of His own. It is because Jesus knew that the words He said and the way He said them were enormously impactful; Firstly because He was saying them in earshot of the Father (who hears all things and knows all things), so He would want to honor God who hears by the Words He said. Secondly because He was saying them before those made in the Father’s image. To say anything that would be unlike the Father to those made in His image would be disrespectful to the Father who made them. Thirdly because Jesus Himself was incarnate in human form, so what He says would and should be taken as reflective of the Father’s heart, for He bore the Father’s image. And finally because Jesus was mindful that what He said must not grieve the Spirit of God who lived within Him. 

Just as those things are true for Him, they are true for us. What we say is also in earshot of the Father. What we say we say to the benefit or hurt of those who hear them, who are made in His image. What we say is reflective of the one whose image we ourselves bear, and it either honors or grieves the Spirit of God who lives in us. So then, how very careful we should be with our words! Yet we have one more reason than Jesus did to be careful in what we say and how we say it; we will have to give account for what we say. 

Our careless words are the words we speak when unprompted. They are the unguarded words that spill out from our lips when we have dropped our filter. Though we often regret them or claim they are not true, they ironically are the words that most clearly display the true condition of our soul. So when you hear them coming out of your mouth, pay attention. If they do not reflect the Father, repent. If they do, rejoice. 

But do not let them out often, or they will be your undoing. Say what the Father tells you to say. Say it the way the Father tells you to say it. Let the Father be just as glorified in what we say as He is in what we do. 


Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.

Proverbs 21:23 from The Message Version

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Let your every word be one of kindness, grace, love, compassion and every fruit of the Spirit.

Unfiltered (Matthew 12:34-35)

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

It the early 1800’s it was said, “Food makes the man, want of it the  fellow.” It was a  rather pithy way of saying that our bodies are made up of the nutrients we take in (food) and our character made up of the challenges we overcome (hunger). But while memorable, it is only partly true. Our character is far more than the sum of struggles past. It is a sum of our own decisions and thoughts. Decisions and thoughts that we have collected over our years, including what came from those struggles. For even difficult circumstance and infliction do not become us – they only present us with a choice in how to respond. The decision to respond and the line of thought that it followed are what gets stored in the back corners of our minds. When later circumstance dictates, we respond by pulling those thoughts and decisions back out, applying them through word and action. We all innately understand that – our unfiltered words are but the exercise of the material we have intentionally stored up. 

In the age of Twitter and Instagram, society is inundated with unfiltered words. The character of those who tweet and post indiscriminately is obvious to all. In fact, it is often the very reason they do tweet and post. They are looking for validation of who they are. Yet even while they do that, they dismiss the idea that those words reflect their character. When confronted, they say they “misspoke” or “made a mistake”. Their character – so obviously on display for all to see – does not get refined by repentance, but rather hardened by denial. 

How should the godly respond? Jesus had no misgivings about calling a spade a spade. Addressing the Pharisees who had just maligned the Spirit of God, His words reveal God’s character even as they also reveal the Pharisee’s character. They demonstrate Jesus as having the same character the Father revealed for millennia through the prophets (indignation at injustice and anger at those who claim to represent Him while holding to internal wickedness). Jesus responds with a sharp call to the Pharisees to recognize how they look to God Most High, followed by His focus on the poison they’ve built their lives on, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” 

It is a clear call to repentance. It is the same call they heard from John the Baptist, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance,” and the same call they would’ve read in Isaiah’s scroll, “Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.” 

Our filtered words reveal our thoughts. But our unfiltered words reveal our character. Let us be careful then, to pay as much heed to what comes out of our mouths as what goes in them.

Unwholesome talk is like vomit; it spews out of the depths of your being and makes a nasty mess wherever it lands. Sometimes it makes you feel better, but it’s an unpleasant experience for whoever happens to be in the way!

Henry & Richard Blackaby

APPLICATION: Intentionality

May God grant that we adjust our character through repentance before we are shown by our words to have need to adjust our character through repentance!

Trees (Matthew 12:33)

Photo by Fumiaki Hayashi on Unsplash

No one during His lifetime considered Jesus an arborist, and Jesus never  claimed to be  such. So when He says something about trees, He is not meaning to give a lesson in agriculture; “If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree.” (MSG)

Jesus is speaking about our lives. Each of us gets to choose what kind of life we want to live, and by that choice we choose what the result of our lives will be. A poor choice results in poor outcomes. A good choice results positive outcomes. While that outcome is ultimately our destiny, the choice we are making is repeatedly demonstrated in season by what we produce. 

Arguably the first thing people produce from their lives is the fruit of their lips. People who are making good choices say things that build up and bless those around them. Their words encourage you toward God and all that God’s Kingdom is. Their words will inspire, motivate, support and encourage “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” They encourage and foster holiness. People making bad choices spew forth bad things. Their words will inspire, motivate, support and encourage “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy.”

When He said “The fruit tells you about the tree”, Jesus was speaking to a group of people (Pharisees) who had just accused Him of being full of the devil. In saying so, they had blasphemed the Spirit of God, by which Jesus was speaking and acting. That is why He prefaced His comment with, “If you reject the Son of Man out of some misunderstanding, the Holy Spirit can forgive you, but when you reject the Holy Spirit, you’re sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.” (MSG) To Jesus – and to all who listen attentively to His Word – the Pharisees had clearly demonstrated by the fruit of their own lips that they were full of that which was impure and unholy. 

A tree feeds on the soil it finds itself in. As it grows, the food it eats (in the form of the minerals and nutrients it absorbs) becomes part of it. So it is with people. We are effectively products of that which we feed upon. If we feed upon unclean things, our character becomes unclean. If we feed upon clean things, we produced “good fruit”. That’s why Paul wrote, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Paul wasn’t pushing the power of positive thinking – he simply understood what Jesus meant about being a good tree, and he was telling us how to grow into a good tree so that we might produce good fruit. 

Much of the insight of holistic medicine rings true because we always knew it. Is it news that we are what we eat?

Kathryn Lindskoog

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Financial professionals tell us is a good idea to periodically examine how we’re spending and investing our money.  Fitness coaches tell us it is good idea to periodically examine our exercise regime. Nutritionists tell us it is a good idea to periodically examine our physical diet. The same principle holds for our mental and spiritual sides. Christian, what are you feeding yourself? 

Blasphemy (Matthew 12:31-32)

Photo by Paul Murphy on Unsplash

When the Lord proclaimed His Name to Moses, God said, “The Lord, the  Lord, the  compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” So that the Lord is compassionate and gracious is without doubt. That He forgives is without doubt. All through the Old Testament and New we find occasions when God is asked to forgive fallen ordinary people, and He always does. Even when He is asked to forgive grievous sin, He does. Murderers (Moses and Paul), adulterers (David), drunks (Noah), liars (Abraham and Isaac), deceivers (Jacob) and fools (Samson) – all of them find God gracious and merciful and forgiving when they look to Him. 

One could come to the conclusion then that there is no sin that God will not forgive. Indeed, it certainly could even be stated as such. But Jesus Himself noted that there is one thing that God will not forgive, “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Blasphemy is “Profane or contemptuous speech or writing about (or action toward) God.”  To blaspheme is to insult God to the point of cursing Him. One might do that by equating God Most High to be nothing more than an idol, or by refuting His character to those who witness for Him. Of course people do that all the time, because they do not know God. Those who do not know God say all kinds of foolish things about God, and do all manner of foolish things to provoke God. These things, Jesus says, are forgivable offenses. They can be washed away by the blood of Christ. But blasphemy of the Spirit is not a forgivable offence. That is because the Spirit is only recognized by what He does (for we cannot see His form), and what He does is act in divine power. In fact, every evidence of the Spirit of God is a power encounter with God. It is undisputable evidence of God’s presence and God’s character. So to be present to such (as we were on the day of our salvation) – and yet deny God all the same – is to blaspheme God to His face, and that after He has moved to save you. 

That, Jesus says, is unforgivable. Both in this present life, and in the life to come. 

People who know the presence of God by the power of God but deny God as God anyway are doing exactly what the devil himself did. There is no recovery for that. Not now, and not when this present age is replaced by the manifest Kingdom of God. 

To this point the book of Hebrews stern warns us, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”  And so it is, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

It is one of the most shameful things in the world to use love’s forgiveness as an excuse to go on sinning.

William Barclay

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Our view of who God is and what He has done for us will either lull us to shameful complacency or it will propel us to passionate and sacrificial service. 

Working at What (Matthew 12:30)

Photo by Chen Mizrach on Unsplash

Having directly addressed the Pharisee’s stunning and blasphemous  statement that  Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Satan, Jesus makes His own stunning statement, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

Most Christ-followers are actually looking for the sharp divide. We like black and white, clearly laid out lines of demarcation. We don’t mind Jesus pointing out that there is no place for neutrality in the Spiritual war. We like knowing that we are either in Jesus’ camp and not in the enemy’s camp. It is OK that He says we are either working toward the harvest by gathering with Him, or scattering the crop and making it more difficult to finish the harvest. So when we hear that comment we understand that He must be talking about the enemy. He must be talking about “them”. We hear the words, and without even really considering what He is saying, we impute righteousness to ourselves and unrighteousness to them. It even makes sense to us, because it feels good to be on the ‘right’ side of the war. 

Jesus’ wording recalls to mind His earlier comment, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” The Lord sees the harvest and is Himself actively working the harvest, but also mindful that not all His people are helping. A few are, but most are scattering and making the whole exercise much longer and more difficult than it might otherwise be. He makes this comment then not as a glib observation, but a pointed job to make us aware; If we are not with Him in what He is now doing, we are actually against Him in what He is doing! 

That is a sobering thought to most Christ-followers. For most honestly believe they are trying to live as good a life as they can. They would say that they want to live lives that are fulfilled and happy and content. They want to have a great experience of worship on a regular basis. They want to go about their days knowing and expecting God to be watching over them and helping them in all they put their hands to. They see the Christ-honoring life as just a little different from the life of the unsaved, expecting that the Lord does not mean to speak into their autonomous life choices other than to ask for the occasional prayer and perhaps a weekend service once a month. They are blissfully unaware that the reason Christ calls us to Himself is that we might be involved in what He is doing. 

He is on a mission. His mission. A mission to expand His glory by making disciples of all nations. He expects us to be likewise focused on that mission. After all, our lives are not our own. We are His creation, called to salvation by His election and redeemed by the price He paid on Calvary that we might be fully His. Our lives are not ours to live as we choose. They are to be poured out for His glory. We are called to be living sacrifices to reach all people for His honor. Even those (arguably especially those) who are of other cultures. 

If we as His people are not focused on that mission, then can we say we are truly obedient disciples? And if not, can we say we are merely on the sidelines, or are we actually and in real life against His cause? A Christian who is not doing what they can to make disciples of those around them is not unlike an employee who claims to be a diligent member of the team but doesn’t actually do any of the work; One has to ask if they are ‘for’ their employer, or just for themselves. 

To be sure, one finds examples of groups which give little or no indication that they desire either the cleansing fire of the holy flame or the empowerment of the holy wind. For whatever reason, they have not entered into the reality of the outpoured Spirit and consequently are not on mission to “Jerusalem, … Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Gilbert W. Stafford

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Let us be intentional about what we are doing. About how we spend our time, our effort and our money, so that we might do all we can to bring Christ all the glory He so richly deserves. 

Finding Freedom (Matthew 12:29)

Photo by Marcus Verbrugge

“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his  possessions  unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.”

It is not an easy thing to take the possessions of a dictator. Or that of a local drug lord for that matter. To take what belongs to them you first have to ensure that they are not able to destroy you. Something everyone knows they will try to do if they so much as think for a moment that you are coming to take what belongs to them. 

Yet it is true that Jesus seems to effortlessly plunder what was under Satan’s control. The man He just healed was possessed. He was ‘owned’ by a demon, who had complete control of him, to the point that the demon did not allow him to see or speak. That’s invasive control, not mere harassment. Yet the Word says merely, “Jesus healed him.” As though it was nothing for Jesus – less effort than choosing an item at a grocery store. But Jesus says that He is only able to do that after the ‘strong man’ has been tied up. 

What Jesus gives us here is a glimpse into spiritual happenings that we are physically oblivious to. Effectively, Jesus is saying that in the healing He just did, He bound the demon and then cast him out of the man, so that He can then give the ‘possession’ back to the man who owned it to start with. The question that immediately comes to mind is, “How exactly did Jesus bind the demon to start with?” 

Matthew had earlier told us how Jesus had commissioned and sent out the twelve disciples, commanding them to cast out the demonic; “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” But Matthew does not tell us the results they achieved, or that Jesus subsequently sent out the 72 (or the 70 ‘twos’). However, Luke does, and he writes, “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.””

That is a key insight. It is the Name of Jesus that binds them. They are powerless in the face of His Name because His Name is the advance of His Kingdom. Where His Name is recognized His rule and reign must be recognized. This is why Proverbs tells us, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

But if His Name is enough, how much more His very presence! Amen! People will always find freedom from every kind of sin, ungodly habit and demonic harassment where His Name is lifted up and where His presence is recognized. Which is why it is so important to welcome His presence, to ask the Spirit of God to come, and to lift up His Name at church. It is by these things that people find freedom!  

In God we trust. In God’s Name we find.

It is under Christ’s yoke that we find rest, and in his service that we find freedom.

John Stott


Let us run to the Name of the Lord. In Him we find safety and all we need besides.

Demarcation (Matthew 12:26-28)

Photo by Diana Schröder-Bode on Unsplash

Jesus has taught much and ministered much. Now He has done a significant  miracle,  healing a man who was blind and mute and also demon possessed. Having watched the whole thing, the Pharisees are fuming.  Jesus’ teaching has shown them up as consistently lacking, and this miracle clearly shows God’s anointing and power resting with Him and not with them. Even the uneducated crowd is coming to that conclusion, saying “Could this be the Son of David?” But the Pharisee’s hatred of Jesus does not allow them to come to that same conclusion. It blinds them to the obvious power of God. 

It is problematic when the leaders cannot see what the crowd sees. But worse, these leaders do not want the crowd to consider the miracle as evidence of God’s approval of Jesus, lest they loose even more credibility. So they do something only public figures are known for; they slander Jesus before the crowd. 

On His part, Jesus comments to those listening, “If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” 

Jesus’ comment is more than a counterargument. It is more than a jab at the flawed logic of the Pharisees. Every Jew knew that division was disaster. No, Jesus is spelling out a profound spiritual truth here, a truth that the Pharisees are not getting: 

The Kingdom of God is not only a spiritual manifestation. That is, it is not just preaching and teaching and internal truth that renews our minds. It is that, but it is also real transformation. The blind see. The mute speak. The demon-possessed are freed. The coming Kingdom of God has an impact on those around us, and it is easily recognized as the work of the Spirit of God!

This is this same truth that Jesus told John the Baptist’s disciples, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”  Yet that very obvious transformation does not mean that everyone who sees it understands it. Some will of course. But some will see exactly the same and think the polar opposite – as the Pharisees are now doing. That is why Jesus had earlier added this comment to John’s disciples, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” 

The appearance of the Kingdom is much like the appearance of Christ – it creates a line of demarcation. It causes a decision to be taken in the minds of those who see what is happening. Those who are in any capacity legitimately searching for God see His hand at work. Those who are not see only trouble and something to be avoided. 

Which camp are we in? 

Having tasted of the “already now,” the believing community prays fervently for God’s name to be hallowed and his kingdom to come. When this desire is no longer present in the heart of the believing community, when the church no longer prays Maranatha, then it no longer loves God with all its heart, soul, strength, and mind.

Robert H. Stein

APPLICATION: Intentionality 

Have you not tasted the present reality of God’s Kingdom? Do you not long for it to more fully appear? Then surely you must also do all you can in the here and now to make it more visible! 

Division (Matthew 12:24-26)

Photo by AP

Immediately after Jesus did an unprecedented miracle, the Pharisees  responded with, “It is only by  Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” The Word is not silent as to what Jesus thought about that statement. It says, “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”” 

The Jews – and especially the Pharisees – ought to have known that very well. For Jewish history includes the divide of the house of Saul (with Jonathan his own son siding with David), the historic divide of between the northern (Israel) and southern (Judah) kingdoms, the treason of Baasha against Nadab, the treason of Zimri against Elah, the further historic divide of the northern tribes between Omri and Tibni and so much more. All of them lead to some manner of bloodshed among the King’s people, and ultimately, to the Jewish exile. Indeed, the word of God is littered with the word “rebelled” in describing the Jewish nations and its kings. 

It is a spiritual principle that a divided group of people is sure to see failure: They will never accomplish what they originally purposed to do. It is for this reason that Satan purposed to divide God and His creation back in the Garden of Eden. Satan knew that if those made in God’s image were one in purpose with God, that God’s plan for the whole of creation would be all but a finished work. Satan’s only hope for obstructing that plan was to divide God’s people from God Himself, and so cut them off from ever being able to worship Him in holiness. This he did quite effectively. Disunity is disaster. 

Jesus obviously knows that. Jesus also knows that Satan knows that! He said, “If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?” Satan, who used this very tool against those God created in His image, would surely not have a significant kingdom if his own were against him – He could not stand if he himself was divided. Moreover, Satan would never divide his own kingdom because even he knows that nothing helpful comes from civil war! 

A civil war is the low point of any society. It is quite literally the full breakdown of civility. People of the same nation taking up weapons against each other is an obvious sign that the enemy does not need to take up arms against it to see it defeated. It is already defeated. Those watching have only to watch to see just how far it can fall. 

It is no wonder that God is united as the Trinity. It is no wonder that who His people are rightly called to be is also a united whole. To that end Jesus would later pray for all of us, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

We participate in Christ’s purpose by doing all we can to live out the answer to that prayer – because if one thing is certain, it is that the Father is answering the Son’s prayer! So if we are not united, we can know that whatever is compelling us toward disunity is absolutely not of God at all. 

Believers are never told to become one; we already are one and are expected to act like it.

Joni Eareckson Tada

APPLICATION: Intentionality 

We are always wise to abide by the catchphrase started in 1627 by Rupertus Meldenius: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

Trapped by Anger (Matthew 12:22-24)

Photo by Raj Rana on Unsplash

At this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus and the Pharisees are no longer in  actual  productive dialogue with each other. Jesus is now an active threat to the Pharisee’s social-political clout as more and more people flock to Him. Worse, He is a very effective frustration to them as He continues to publicly refute their insistence on Jewish obedience to their interpretation of God’s ceremonial law. Observers on the ground at the time would have picked up on that rising tension, and we see it in the Gospel: 

“Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”” 

Once we make the decision in our mind that the other person is wrong, it is often impossible to see how they could be right. Our bias simply rules out that line of thought from that point forward, so our unconscious mind makes up ways of understanding how what they are saying and doing is patently wrong. As a result, our offence at what they say spills out into our response, which we perceive as correct and timely even if an unbiased observer would be appalled at our words. But we believe our words all the same, and the more we think and say them, the more we become entrenched in our perception. The line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ gets wider and wider with every word. 

Matthew clearly demonstrates that line. The Pharisees have crossed it, the crowd has not. So while the crowd sees an unheard-of miracle and concludes Jesus might be the Messiah, the Pharisees see the same miracle and conclude that Jesus is a slave of the devil. Which means they have not only consciously rejected Jesus as Messiah, they have installed a significant barrier between themselves and The Truth. A spiral of hatred has being engaged, and a wall of hostility has been erected. 

The result is that from this point forward the Pharisees are antagonistic to Jesus instead of merely doubtful. That will become evident in both how they approach Him and how He subsequently responds to them. On their end, every interaction will now be seen as an opportunity to entrap Him. On His end, every interaction will now be a convicting assessment of their error. The divide between them will become more and more obvious to onlookers (and readers of the Gospel). It is literally the divide between heaven (living with God) and hell (living apart from God). It is a divide caused entirely by a human choice. 

This is why Jesus told us to love our enemies – because only by seeking to love them can you even entertain the idea that who they are (let alone what they say and do) has any value at all. Without at least a glimmer of love for the other, you will see only a hard line of division between them and yourself.

Love of God and hatred of others cannot exist in the same person. If there is bitterness in someone’s heart towards any other, that is proof that that person does not really love God. All our protestations of love to God are useless if there is hatred in our hearts towards anyone.

William Barclay

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Can you pray for your opponent without malice? If not, it is well past the time to re-examine your own heart. 

Realization (Matthew 12:22-23)

Photo by Mario Dobelmann on Unsplash

Jesus has healed sick people repeatedly. He has also cast demons out  repeatedly. He  has healed both those suffering from disease and also those suffering a debilitating condition. That’s an important distinction, because healing someone from something that they’ve learned how to live with is obviously harder than healing someone with a disease their mind and body are still fighting. But Jesus has gone further, even healing someone who was suffering from both demon possession and a debilitating condition.
Matthew 9:32-33 records, “While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke.”  When that happened, the people responded with astonishment and wonderment, “The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”” 

That was a while ago in Matthew’s narrative. Now a very similar circumstance arises, except in this case the man is suffering multiple conditions as well as demon possession, “Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.” This means Jesus healed the fellow’s blindness, healed his muteness and also cast out a demon. That’s a three-for-one miracle, a never-before-heard-of event.

In fact, in all the history of the Jewish people, and even in all the history of the whole world – there is no record of anyone ever being healed of such a condition! It is no wonder the people went beyond their previous astonishment. So while before they were simply in wonder, now they add a potential conclusion; “All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”” 

It is a remarkable comment for the crowd. They are only now finally coming to the conclusion that the reader of the Gospel has seen for some significant time. Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled prophesy in His birth, in His upbringing, in His words, in His ministry and in where He ministered. Jesus did tremendous miracles. He healed the blind, healed the deaf and even raised the dead. Yet up to this point, the people had not concluded that Jesus was Messiah. But now – after all that – the people see this triple healing, and the tipping point comes into sight. They have not yet made the confession of faith, but at least they finally beginning to ask the right question! 

We easily forget how difficult it was to come into the Kingdom of God. The moment of conversion washes away the years of unbelief and the wall of doubt that stood before us for so long, motionless and impenetrable. Like a mother who instantly forgets the pain of childbirth, we forget how thick-headed we were before the realization dawned on us that Jesus was far more than a good man and a prophet. 

Be patient with unbelievers and long-suffering in your witness. It is not a simple thing to cross over from darkness to light. It takes a manifold witness over a good deal of time – and much prayer – to see dead ears opened and hard hearts made soft. 

If it honors Him – even if it blesses you at the same time – you can ask.  You know He can answer, and you know He is faithful to answer.  We just need to persevere in prayer.  His timing is never off.

Marcus Verbrugge

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Keep praying for the salvation of those you love!