General Idea: This is one of the most controversial passages in Matthew. So many fights occur and people get hurt over whether we may accidentally commit the unpardonable sin and lose our salvation. But, when we have our faith rooted in what our Lord has done for us, we need not fear, for our salvation is secured. Jesus combats the pious, fraud religious leaders, who elevate their zealous traditions over the care of the people, which is what they are primarily called to. In spite of all Jesus did to prove who He was, they still attacked Him, now accusing Him of being a demon, but not just any demon, but the prince of them all! In actuality, they were the ones who were in league with the demons, sharing in their propensity to deceive and to destroy!
Jesus is the Strong Man who invaded Satan's house, and stole his power and the opportunities to do us in. We are given freedom and victory, and we are given the power to overcome Satan, to prosper in His grace. But, we still need to operate within Christ's parameters using His armor and weapons. If we do not, we will fail; we do not have the strength of the Strong Man, only God does!
1. He healed him; Jesus is the One who heals our broken lives (John 4:4-42)!
a. The healings that that Jesus and the Apostles did were real and exceptional displays of God's love and power. Withered and non-working eyes were magically regenerated; ears that could not hear were opened; mouths that could not utter words became instruments of praise (Isa. 35:5).
b. Amazed. The Jewish expectation of a Messiah was not for someone who would heal, rather, someone who would be militaristic. So, the crowds would wonder, What is this? What is going on? Could Jesus be the One? Since what the Scriptures foretold and their expectations were in conflict, so was the practice of their faith and their judgments of Jesus.
c. The Son of David, Son of David. This was a one of the more popular Jewish titles for the Messiah (1:20; 9: 27; 12:23; 20:30; 21:9; 22:41-45).
d. David was the only person to exorcize a demon, recorded in the OT in 1 Sam 16:23.
e. Pagans who exorcised demons used spells and incantations, so they identified Jesus with these pagan witchdoctors. However, Jesus used the authority of God--not any spell.
2. The Pharisees were like bully children in a park. They were not holding back at calling Him every name in the book, from this fellow, a demeaning term, to an actual demon, and accusing Him of all of the most heinous sins.
a. Beelzebul is a derivative of Beelzebub (Greek Beelzboul) meaning "lord of the house" or "lord of the flies" (2 Kings 1:2-3; Matt. 10:25; 12:24,27; Mark 3:22): The exact meaning of this term is not known. It is suggested that it refers to Satan's authority over other demons.It is also a name for a heathen god of Ekron, Baal-zebub (2 Kings 1:2) and called Belial by Paul (2 Cor. 6:15). He is also called the prince of demons (Matt. 10:25; 12:24-27), which implies he is lord over hell--the chief CEO of hell. This was a heinous accusation to make about Jesus!
b. Divided against itself. You are either on one side or the other. You cannot be at two places at once, just as you cannot be half pregnant. Either you are for Christ or you are not. There is no "fence sitting" in the Kingdom of God (Mark 9:40)!
i. Your sons refers to people in "your" group, as in a clan or a family. Jesus calls their bluff, and reminds them that they are casting out demons with spells--in violation of Scripture. This was as the pagans did, not as David did.
ii. Jesus does not say others cannot exorcise demons, but, when it is done secularly, it just mixes them up, like the game "fruit basket upset." They are still here; they have just exchanged places with one another. The difference is Jesus actually defeats demons, rather than just moving them around (Matt. 12:41-42)!
c. Strongman. This passage gives us a picture of Satan as the ultimate thief who steals our goods and keeps us hostage. Jesus goes into his house, taking back everything we lost as well as taking his stuff and giving it to us (Eph. 1:15-23; Col. 2:15)! If the police did this, I bet crime would go down significantly! Sorcery was a capital crime (Ex. 22:18), and was another avenue to seek to take down our Lord. Satan could not prevent the coming of the Kingdom (Matt. 4:2; Rev. 20:2)!
3. Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven: The Unpardonable Sin is to willfully speak against the work of the Spirit to regenerate our life (Matt. 12:33-37; Mark 12:28-30; Luke 12:10; Heb. 3:12-13; 6:4-6; 10:26-29; 1 John 5:16-17)! This means to reject Jesus' offer of His saving grace, and refuse His salvation. It can also refer to refusing to repent--a sure sign a person is not saved (John 16:8; Rom. 10:9-10). A Christian whose faith is in Christ has no fear of this, as all of our sins will be forgiven (John 14:26; Acts 7:52; 2 Cor. 3:16-17; Eph. 1:17-18; 1 John 3:9)!
a. Judaism in Jesus time debated whether or not one's sins could be cleansed in this world by suffering or repentance, and which sins would be taken with them into eternity and punishment. Manasseh, one of the wickedest kings in history repented, so, they debated if he went to reward or to punishment. Aren't you glad you have grace? Judaism also taught that "highhanded" sins, such as speaking, or rebelling against God, were not forgivable (Lev. 24:10-23).
b. Blasphemy was a major crime punishable by death. It could mean pronouncing ones self as divine; inviting others to worship other gods, or it could be an insult to God's honor (Num. 15:30). The penalty for such an act of forgiving sins was death (Lev. 24:10-23). Jesus obviously was not guilty of this, or any offence.
c. Since Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, there is One God with three personalities and manifestations. Therefore, rejecting Jesus means you are rejecting God and His saving grace for you.
4. Tree/ fruit refers to how we respond to the Gospel with our gratitude. Depending on whether you choose your Will or God's Grace, it also means what we do with our faith. So bad represents stubbornness, and good represents Repentance. Repentance must be real, so a change has occurred. There must be a measure of sorrow or emotion for our sin, but not just sorrow; actual change must be in place in your life (Matt. 4:17; 27:3)! Since we would feel the sorrow (Matthew 3:8) of the hurt we cause, not only to ourselves, but also to the people around us, and even to God (2 Co 7:10-11), this would indicate we are in no danger of committing the Unpardonable Sin! When one serves the Lord, or has repented, the fruits will be manifested (Gal. 5:22-23). If not, then something is very wrong.
a. Brood of vipers refers to a viper's child. This was name-calling to put someone down. Isaiah and John the Baptist did this righteously, as does our Lord (Isa. 57:3-4; 58:5-8; Matt. 3:7). A viper is a hideous snake; the Jews believed they eat their way out of their mother's stomach. So, they are calling our Lord a viper's child--as someone who kills their own mother, the most heinous sin for a Jew!
b. The Book of Proverbs testifies the importance of sound speech, and that it is better to keep silent than to say something stupid. (Prov. 10:11; 15:4; 17:27-28).
Believing something does not mean you live it. Faith must be real and invoke a response from within you. It cannot be just academic! People then, as people today, differentiate people by their words, and more importantly, their actions. What do your actions say about what is in your heart? For the Jew, confession about God was the essential aspect of what it meant to be a Jew (Duet. 6:4; Mark 12:29). To confess one thing and do another was what Proverbs and the Jew would heartily say was a fool! Thus, our faith will produce our actions, but our actions will not produce faith. We only respond with our faith to His work and His call.
1. Have you ever been robbed? If so, how did you feel? How would you feel if you got all of your goods back, plus what the thief owned, too?
2. Read 1 John 3:9-10. Why would a Christian, saved by grace, feel he/she might "accidentally" commit the Unpardonable Sin, and lose his/her salvation?
3. What do you need to do to make sure you do not commit the Unpardonable Sin?
4. How can your faith help you feel secure in this life, and have hope for the life to come? How would that help your stress level and your ability to handle difficult situations?
5. The healings that Jesus and the Apostles did were real, and were exceptional displays of God's love and power. How do the most of claimed healings today compare with what the Bible records?
6. Jesus is the One who heals our broken lives. How can we make sure this is deeply rooted within us, so it influences how we are with others, and how we handle life?
7. If you were there watching Jesus, and you had been told growing up that the Messiah was to be militaristic and kick out the Romans, what would you think about this Guy?
8. Why would the Pharisees mistake, or accuse Jesus of being a pagan witchdoctor?
9. Why would the motivations of the Pharisees be to call Jesus names and accuse Him of all of the most heinous sins? Why do we call people names?
10. Why can there be no "fence sitting" in the Kingdom of God, because you are either on one side or the other?
11. What is the difference between Jesus' exorcisms and those who use spells and incantations?
12. We are given the power to overcome Satan and prosper in God's Grace. What do we still need to do so we do not fail?
13. How would you define "The Unpardonable Sin?"
14. Why should a Christian whose faith is in Christ not fear this? Who should fear this?
15. How would you define Blasphemy?
16. Are you showing true acceptance of Jesus as your Lord? You can know this by doing what He says (Luke 6:46).
17. What would your fruit today be like? How do you respond to the Gospel--with your gratitude or do you choose your own stubborn Will? How does God feel about that?
18. What can you do to make sure your Faith is real? What would invoke a response from within you?
19. Most Christians have a faith that is mainly academic; that is, they may believe and know, but do little or nothing with it. What can be done to show them that their faith needs to be real, and their actions say what is in their heart?
20. In what manner do you practice Confession about God? How would this improve your spiritual and emotional maturity? If you do not already, what do you need to do to start this vital aspect of declaring your faith and honoring who Christ is and what He has done for you?
© 2003, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org