Blasphemous Accusations of the Jews.

^A Matt. XII.22-37; ^B Mark III.19-30; ^C Luke XI.14-23.

^b 19 And he cometh into a house. [Whose house is not stated.] 20 And the multitude cometh together again [as on a previous occasion -- Mark ii.1], so that they could not so much as eat bread. [They could not sit down to a regular meal. A wonderful picture of the intense importunity of people and the corresponding eagerness of Jesus, who was as willing to do as they were to have done.] 21 And when his friends heard it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. [These friends were his brothers and his mother, as appears from Mark iii.31, 32. They probably came from Nazareth. To understand their feelings, we must bear in mind their want of faith. See John vii.3-9. They regarded Jesus as carried away by his religious enthusiasm (Acts xxvi.24; II. Cor. v.13), and thought that he acted with reckless regard for his personal safety. They foresaw the conflict with the military authorities and the religious leaders into which the present course of Jesus was leading, and were satisfied that the case called for their interference. Despite her knowledge as to Jesus, Mary sympathized with her sons in this movement, and feared for the safety of Jesus.] ^a 22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a demon, blind and dumb: { ^c 14 And he was casting out a demon that was dumb.} ^a and he healed him, insomuch that ^c it came to pass, when the demon was gone out, ^a the dumb man spake and saw. [The man was brought because he could not come alone. While Luke does not mention the blindness, the similarity of the narratives makes it most likely that he is describing the same circumstances as Matthew and Mark, so we have combined the three accounts.] 23 And all the multitudes ^c marvelled. ^a were amazed, and said, Can this be the son of David? [It was a time for amazement, for Jesus had performed a triple if not a quadruple miracle, restoring liberty, hearing and sight, and granting the power of speech. It wakened the hope that Jesus might be the Messiah, the son of David, but their hope is expressed in the most cautious manner, not only being stated as a question, but as a question which expects a negative answer. The question, however, was well calculated to arouse the envious opposition of the Pharisees.] ^c 15 But some of them said [that is, some of the multitude. Who these "some" were is revealed by Matthew and Mark, thus:], ^a 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they ^b 22 and the scribes that came down from Jerusalem said, ^a This man doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub the prince of the demons. ^b He hath Beelzebub, and, By the prince of the demons casteth he out the demons. [Beelzebub is a corruption of Baalzebub, the god of the fly. There was a tendency among the heathen to name their gods after the pests which they were supposed to avert. Thus Zeus was called Apomuios (Averter of flies), and Apollo Ipuktonos (Slayer of vermin). How Beelzebub became identified with Satan in the Jewish mind is not known. In opposing the influence of Jesus and corrupting the public mind, these Pharisees showed a cunning worthy of the cultivated atmosphere, the seat of learning whence they came. Being unable to deny that a miracle was wrought (for Celsus in the second century is the first recorded person who had the temerity to do such a thing), they sought to so explain it as to reverse its potency, making it an evidence of diabolical rather than divine power. Their explanation was cleverly plausible, for there were at least two powers by which demons might be cast out, as both were invisible, it might appear impossible to decide whether it was done in this instance by the power of God or of Satan. It was an explanation very difficult to disprove, and Jesus himself considered it worthy of the very thorough reply which follows.] ^c 16 And others, trying him, sought of him a sign from heaven. [These probably felt that the criticisms of the Pharisees were unjust, and wished that Jesus might put them to silence by showing some great sign, such as the pillar of cloud which sanctioned the guidance of Moses, or the descending fire which vindicated Elijah.] ^b 23 And he called them unto him [thus singling out his accusers], ^a 25 And { ^c 17 But} ^a knowing their thoughts he said unto them, ^b in parables [We shall find that Jesus later replied to those who sought a sign. He here answers his accusers in a fourfold argument. First argument:], How can Satan cast out Satan? ^a Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house [family] divided against itself shall not stand: ^b 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. ^c A house divided against a house falleth. { ^b 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.} ^a 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; ^c 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, ^a how then shall his kingdom stand? ^b 26 And if Satan hath risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. ^c because ye say that I cast out demons by Beelzebub. [The explanation given by the Pharisees represented Satan as divided against himself; robbing himself of his greatest achievement; namely, his triumph over the souls and bodies of men. Jesus argues, not that Satan could not do this, but that he would not, and that therefore the explanation which supposes him to do it is absurd. We should note that Jesus here definitely recognizes two important truths: 1. That the powers of evil are organized into a kingdom with a head (Matt. xiii.29; xxv.41; Mark iv.15; Luke xxii.31).2. That division tends to destruction. His argument therefore, "constitutes an incidental but strong argument against sectarianism. See I. Cor. i.13 " (Abbott). Second argument:] 19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges. [The sons of the Pharisees were not their children, but their disciples (II. Kings ii.3; Acts xix.13, 14). Josephus mentions these exorcists (Ant. viii.2, 5, and Wars vii.6, 3), and there is abundant mention of them in later rabbinical books. Our Lord's reference to them was merely for the purpose of presenting an argumentum ad hominem, and in no way implies that they exercised any real power over the demons; nor could they have done so in any marked degree, else the similar work of Christ would not have created such an astonishment. The argument therefore is this, I have already shown you that it is against reason that Satan cast out Satan; I now show you that it is against experience. The only instances of dispossession which you can cite are those of your own disciples. Do they act by the power of Satan? They therefore shall be your judges as to whether you have spoken rightly in saying that Satan casts out Satan. Third argument:] 20 But if I with the finger { ^a by the Spirit} of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. [The finger of God signifies the power of God (Ex. viii.19; xxxi.18; Ps. viii.3). [Jesus exercised this power in unison with the Spirit of God. Jesus here draws a conclusion from the two arguments presented. Since he does not cast out by Satan, he must cast out by the power of God, and therefore his actions demonstrated the potential arrival of the kingdom of God. The occasional accidental deliverance of exorcists might be evidence of the flow and ebb of a spiritual battle, but the steady, daily conquests of Christ over the powers of evil presented to the people the triumphant progress of an invading kingdom. It is an argument against the idea that there was a collusion between Christ and Satan. Fourth argument:] ^c 21 When the strong man fully armed guardeth his own court, his goods are in peace: 22 but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him his whole armor wherein he trusted, and divided his spoils. ^b 27 But no one can { ^a 29 Or how can one} enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then will he spoil his house. [Satan is the strong man, his house the body of the demoniac, and his goods the evil spirit within the man. Jesus had entered his house, and robbed him of his goods; and this proved that, instead of being in league with Satan, he had overpowered Satan. Thus Jesus put to shame the Pharisees, and caused the divinity of his miracle to stand out in clearer light than ever. The power of Jesus to dispossess the demon was one of his most convincing credentials, and its meaning now stood forth in its true light.] 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. [Jesus here addresses the bystanders. In the spiritual conflict between Jesus and Satan, neutrality is impossible. There are only two kingdoms, and every soul is either in one or the other, for there is no third. Hence one who fought Satan in the name of Christ was for Christ (Luke ix.50). In the figure of gathering and scattering, the people are compared to a flock of sheep which Jesus would gather into the fold, but which Satan and all who aid him (such as the Pharisees) would scatter and destroy.] ^b 28 Verily ^a 31 Therefore I say unto you, Every sins and blasphemy { ^b all their sins} shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and their blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme [Jesus here explains to the Pharisees the awful meaning of their enmity. Blasphemy is any kind of injurious speech. It is the worst form of sin, as we see by this passage. This does not declare that every man shall be forgiven all his sins, but that all kinds of sin committed by various men shall be forgiven. The forgiveness is universal as to the sin, not as to the men]: ^a but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.32 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak { ^b blaspheme} against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin: ^a it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come. ^b 30 because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. [Blasphemy against the Son may be a temporary sin, for the one who commits it may be subsequently convinced of his error by the testimony of the Holy Spirit and become a believer (I. Tim. i.13). But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is in its nature an eternal sin, for if one rejects the evidence given by the Holy Spirit and ascribes it to Satan, he rejects the only evidence upon which faith can be based; and without faith there is no forgiveness. The difference in the two sins is therefore in no way due to any difference in the Son and Spirit as to their degrees of sanctity or holiness. The punishment is naturally eternal because the sin is perpetual. The mention of the two worlds is, "just an extended way of saying 'never'" (Morison). Some assert that the Jews would not know what Jesus meant by the Holy Spirit, but the point is not so well taken. See Ex. xxxi.3; Num. xi.26; I. Sam. x.10; xix.20; Ps. cxxxix.7; cxliii.10; Isa. xlviii.16; Ezek. xi.24. We see by Mark's statement that blasphemy against the Spirit consisted in saying that Jesus had an unclean spirit, that his works were due to Satanic influence, and hence wrought to accomplish Satanic ends. We can not call God Satan, nor the Holy Spirit a demon, until our state of sin has passed beyond all hope of reform. One can not confound the two kingdoms of good and evil unless he does so maliciously and willfully.] ^a 33 Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit. [The meaning and connection are: "Be honest for once; represent the tree as good, and its fruit as good, or the tree as evil, and its fruit as evil; either say that I am evil, and that my works are evil, or, if you admit that my works are good, admit that I am good also and not in league with Beelzebub" -- Carr.] 34 Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [Realizing the hopelessness of this attempt to get an honest judgment out of dishonest hearts, Jesus plainly informs them as to the condition of their hearts. Their very souls were full of poison like vipers. Their sin lay not in their words, but in a condition of heart which made such words possible. The heart being as it was, the words could not be otherwise. "What is in the well will be in the bucket" -- Trapp.] 35 The good man out of his good treasure bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. [We have here a summary of the contrast given in the two preceding verses. The good heart of Jesus brought forth its goodness, as the evil hearts of the Pharisees brought forth their evil.] 36 And I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. [It may have seemed to some that Jesus denounced too severely a saying which the Pharisees had hastily and lightly uttered. But it is the word inconsiderately spoken which betrays the true state of the heart. The hypocrite can talk like an angel if he be put on notice that his words are heard. Jesus here makes words the basis of the judgment of God. Elsewhere we find it is works (Rom. ii.6; II. Cor. v.10), and again we find it is faith (Rom. iii.28). There is no confusion here. The judgment in its finality must be based upon our character. Our faith forms our character, and our words and works are indices by which we may determine what manner of character it is.]

xlvii further journeying about galilee
Top of Page
Top of Page