When Religion Denies & Rejects the Power of God

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses twenty-two through fifty of this New Testament book. “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? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. 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? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 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. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 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 unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 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 men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:22-37).

 

            “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas; For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:38-42).

 

            “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation” (Matthew 12:43-45).

 

            “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” (Matthew 12:46-50).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find one of the most astonishing passages within the four New Testament gospel narratives. In order to truly understand the words and language which is found here in this passage of Scripture it is absolutely necessary to think about and consider the language that is found in verses fourteen through twenty-one of this chapter. As the twelfth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew begins and opens it does so with two distinct accounts of resistance and opposition toward Jesus by the Pharisees and the religious leaders. We know from this gospel there was an earlier account of opposition against Jesus from the scribes when He was present within a house surrounded by scribes, Pharisees and doctors of the Law. Scripture records in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke how not only was Jesus surrounded by Pharisees and doctors of the Law but the power of the Lord was present to heal them. I have to admit it’s actually quite astonishing to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it suggests the tremendous truth that even when Jesus was surrounded by religious leaders the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Oh would it shock and surprise you to consider the tremendous truth that the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees and the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were afforded the same opportunity as all the others who earnestly and sincerely came unto Him with seeking hearts? Would you be surprised if I told you that each and every one of the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests, elders of the people and the like were given the same unique opportunity to come to Jesus that they might be healed?

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the narrative that is found in the ninth chapter of this New Testament gospel and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the Pharisees, the scribes and the various other religious sects and organizations who had the same opportunity to come unto Jesus that they might receive healing—and not only forgiveness but also forgiveness. What adds even more weight to this is when you consider how the Synoptic gospel writers present the ministry of John the Baptist. If you turn and direct your attention to the earlier chapters of these particular gospels you will find that while it was indeed true that soldiers, and publicans and the people came unto John to hear the words he would speak and to be baptized of him the Pharisees also came unto him. The apostle Matthew, John Mark and the physician Luke all recorded John’s response when he beheld these religious leaders coming unto him—not only to hear the words which he spoke but also to inquire as to whether or not he was the Messiah. Of course we know and understand from Scripture that John the Baptist knew that he wasn’t the Messiah and that he had not been called to be the Messiah in the earth. John the Baptist knew and understood that he was the Messianic forerunner and messenger of the Messiah and the Christ and that his purpose was to prepare the way and make ready the paths for the people for the Messiah who would indeed come unto them.

 

            With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in each of the gospel narratives concerning the scribes, the Pharisees and the religious sects and organizations which came unto the baptism of John. If you read and study the different accounts of these organizations coming unto John the Baptist you will not only find him emphatically declaring that he was not the Messiah and not only calling men and women to repentance for the remission of sins and to be baptized but he also spoke directly unto the scribes and the Pharisees who came unto him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the message John the Baptist spoke unto the scribes and the Pharisees when they came unto him at the places he was baptizing men and women and preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven. It is of great importance to call and draw your attention to this for it brings us face to face with the powerful and clarion call John the Baptist gave to the religious sects and communities of that day concerning repentance before and in the sight of the living God. Before Jesus the Christ would ever step on to the scene John the Baptist would confront the religious leaders and systems of that day calling them to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance and to not trust in or rely on their heritage and lineage as the sons of Abraham. It is with this in mind I invite you to turn and direct your attention to the following words which are found in each of the four New Testament gospels concerning the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist and the religious sects which came unto his baptism beginning with the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: For I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:1-12).

 

            “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1:1-8).

 

            “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberias Caesar, Pontius Pilate being the governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Ciaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight, Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axed is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:1-9).

 

            While within this particular passage found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke we find all those from Judaea, Galilee, Jerusalem and the surrounding regions coming unto John the Baptist we find in the next passage of Scripture certain of those groups of people coming unto John the Baptist and asking him what they ought to do. Scripture speaks of the people, the publicans and the soldiers coming unto John the Baptist and asking him what they ought to do in light of the kingdom of heaven and in light of the clarion call to repentance. This is something we must needs recognize and pay close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the powerful invitation given by John the Baptist unto those who would come unto his baptism and the invitation for them to bring forth fruits worthy and meet of repentance. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of this New Testament gospel beginning to read with and from the tenth verse:

 

            “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:10-14).

 

            I have to admit that the more I read this particular passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with and confronted by those groups of people who did not come unto John the Baptist asking what they ought to do. Within this passage of Scripture we find John the Baptist being approached by the people who asked him what they ought to do in response to his words and the coming of the kingdom of heaven. What’s more is we also find the publicans and those who were considered sinners and were marginalized and ostracized by the religious community and perhaps even society itself coming unto John the Baptist and asking him what they ought to do. Luke also writes and records how the soldiers themselves came unto John the Baptist and asked him what they ought to do. Pause for a moment and consider the three groups of people who came unto John the Baptist—not only repenting of and confessing their sins and being baptized of him but also asking him what they ought to do. John the Baptist would speak unto the people and instruct them to be generous and hospitable unto those who were in need while speaking unto the publicans and instructing them to exact no more than that which was appointed them. Unto the soldiers John the Baptist would also instruct them to do violence to no man,  neither accuse any falsely but rather to be content with their wages. There is a clear and present picture found within this passage of Scripture concerning those who came unto John the Baptist inquiring what they ought to do in light of baptism and in light of repentance unto the remission of sins.

 

            What we do not and what we will not find within this passage, however, is a certain group of people coming unto John the Baptist with the same desire and urgency. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that while the people, the publicans and the soldiers all came unto John the Baptist asking what they ought to do there was one group of people during those days who did not come unto John the Baptist asking what they ought to do. That group of people who did not and would not come unto John the Baptist were the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees, the chief priests, the elders of the people, the doctors of the Law and the like. Oh it was indeed true the publicans, the people and the soldiers came unto John the Baptist, however, it is also true that the religious leaders of that day did not come unto him with the same earnest desire and urgency. The urgency that was expressed by the publicans, and the people and even the soldiers might very well be likened unto the day of Pentecost when the apostle Peter would speak unto all those whose attention was captured by Galilaeans who were speaking with the tongues of the nations having never been taught nor ever learning those tongues. There was a great commotion and curiosity within the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came bringing the tongues of the nations and as a direct result of this the apostle Peter would stand up before and in the midst of them preaching the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus. Once the apostle Peter was done we find a number of those present on that day being pricked within their hearts and consciences and asking the same question the publicans, the people and the soldiers asked John the Baptist. Consider if you will the narrative as it was written by Luke in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “…Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:36-40).

 

            Please don’t miss the incredible significance of what is found within this passage of Scripture for within it we find a number of men and women on the day of Pentecost hearing the words and gospel which the apostle Peter preached and being pricked in their heart. It would be as a direct result of their being pricked in their heart and being convicted that they would respond to his words by asking what they needed to do. It is absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to that which is found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is incredibly similar to what was present within the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke. That which we find in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke paints a powerful picture of the publicans, the people and the soldiers asking John the Baptist what they ought to do in response to the words he spoke. Oh there is something incredibly unique and powerful about the words and language contained here in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to three different groups of people who were undoubtedly convicted by the words which John the Baptist preached unto them and inquired what they needed to do both in response and to respond to it. Similarly this took place on the day of Pentecost when you find countless men and women on the day of Pentecost asking the apostle Peter what they ought to do in response to the words which he preached. The apostle Peter would hear and listen to their words and would call them to “Repent, and be baptized every one of them in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

 

            What makes the words which are found in this passage so incredibly unique and powerful is when you consider that beginning with the forty-first verse of this same chapter Luke writes and records that those who gladly received the word which the apostle Peter spoke were baptized. Not only this but on that same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. In addition to what is believed to be one-hundred and twenty who were already present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost we now read of there being three thousand souls who were added unto the number. How absolutely incredible it is to consider that on the day of Pentecost there were countless men and women who asked what they needed to do and three thousand of those souls were not only baptized but also received the word of the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus. Oh there is something truly unique and powerful when you consider the words and language found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding those who heard the word of the kingdom and asked what they ought to do to be saved. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to what took place during the days of John the Baptist and how there were the publicans, the people and the soldiers who came unto him asking what they needed to do. Undoubtedly the publicans, the people and the soldiers were pricked in their hearts and consciences and desired what they ought to do in response to repenting and being baptized. What an absolutely incredible truth it is to consider how not only were there those who confessed their sins and were baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins but they also inquired what they ought to do in response to the words which they heard.

 

            There is something truly unique and powerful when you take the time to consider the words and language found in this passage of Scripture. As you take the time to read the words presented in this passage of Scripture you can and will encounter three distinct groups of people who did in fact come unto John the Baptist with their hearts being pricked and their consciences being convicted. As a direct result of this they would inquire of John the Baptist what they needed to do in addition to being baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. John the Baptist would in fact present them with that which they ought to do which would indeed be fruits which were meet for repentance in the sight of the living God. What we must needs recognize and understand, however, is there was indeed a group—and not only a group but different groups—who did not and would not come unto John the Baptist. If you read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture you will find that while it was indeed true the publicans, the people and the soldiers came unto John the Baptist asking what they ought to do in response to the words he preached none of the religious leaders and community made their way unto this prophet asking what they ought to do. Nowhere in any of the four New Testament gospel narratives will you find any of the religious sects and organizations of that day coming unto John the Baptist asking him what they ought to do. What’s more is that I would dare say that none of the religious sects and organizations which were present during those days were baptized by John the Baptist unto repentance for the remission of sins.

 

            As you read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture you will find the Pharisees and certain of the religious leaders coming unto John the Baptist inquiring as to whether or not he was the Messiah, however, they had absolutely no interest or desire in the words which he spoke. The only thing they were concerned with was whether or not John the Baptist was the Messiah and the one who had been prophesied and spoken of in the Law and the prophets. Much to their surprise and shock John the Baptist would declare unto them that he was not the Messiah and that he was merely the messenger of the Messiah sent to prepare the way and make straight the paths for the Messiah to come. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely incredible truth that at no point did religion come unto John the Baptist repenting of and confessing their sins in his hearing and presence. While it was indeed true the publicans the people and the soldiers might very well have come unto John the Baptist confessing their sins and being baptized unto repentance for the forgiveness and remission of sins there was not a single religious sect and organization during those days who did the same. Having the first prophetic voice in four-hundred years present among them they would completely and utterly ignore the words which John the Baptist would speak and declare unto them. Oh it is with this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the same third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke as well as the words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John:

 

            “And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison” (Luke 3:15-20).

 

            “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? That we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizes thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing” (John 1:19-28).

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the days of John the Baptist when he would not only preach repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand but also how he would baptize men and women in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. Despite the words which John the Baptist preached and despite his clarion call to repentance and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance the religious leaders and sects of that day completely and utterly ignored the words which he spoke. John the Baptist was indeed sent unto and among them preaching repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand and yet there was not a single Pharisee, Sadducee, scribe, elder of the people, chief priest, doctor of the Law and the like who heard the words John the Baptist spoke and inquired what they needed to do in response to what he had spoken. The publicans, the people and the soldiers all asked John what they needed to do and yet none of the religious leaders of that day came unto him asking what they needed to do in response to the words which he spoke. Oh it was true they did in fact come unto him inquiring whether or not he was the Messiah and the Christ, however, that was the extent of their interest in the words he spoke and his baptizing. Not one of the religious leaders of that day took to heart the words which John the Baptist spoke unto them and there were absolutely none who would come unto him inquiring what they needed to do. There was not a single one of them who was concerned with repentance—and not only repentance but bringing forth fruits meet and worthy of repentance.

            I am sitting here today thinking about and considering this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the absolutely astonishing truth surrounding the days of the Lord Jesus. I continue to believe that the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of the people and the various other religious organizations of that day had the same opportunity to be healed by the Father. Luke writes and records how there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law who were present in the house and how the power of the Lord was present to heal them and yet there were absolutely none who would receive healing nor even forgiveness of sins. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely tragic these words and this reality truly is for there were doctors of the Law and Pharisees which were present in the midst of the house and the power of the Lord was present to heal them and yet none of them would receive or experience healing or forgiveness. What’s more is there was only one present among them who wasn’t originally in the house where they were but was instead lowered down through an opening made in the roof who would not only experience forgiveness but would also receive healing. On this particular day there would be four men who would not only carry this man sick with the palsy and grievously tormented unto the place where Jesus was but after seeing there was no way to enter into the house through the door they would carry him even further to the roof of the house and would make an opening in the roof whereby they might let him down in the presence of the Lord Jesus.

 

            The more I think about and consider this particular truth the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding these Pharisees, scribes, doctors of the Law and the other religious leaders. If you read the four gospel narratives you will find that although there might have been times when certain of the religious leaders and community came unto Jesus they would come unto Him only that they might tempt Him with their questions and thereby find reason and means to accuse Him. There was only one exception to this which is found in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. It is in this particular chapter we find Nicodemus who was of the Pharisees and a ruler of the Jews who came unto Jesus by night asking Him different questions which were present within his heart. There is absolutely no denying the fact that Nicodemus was sincere and genuine in his approach of and coming unto the Lord Jesus and it would be unto Nicodemus where Jesus would not only speak of being born again but would also quote the famous words concerning God so loving the world that He would give His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. It is absolutely imperative we recognize and understand this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding this single Pharisee who had perhaps not only heard about Jesus but also heard the words which He spoke and genuinely came unto Him that he might hear and listen to the words which He spoke. Nicodemus would be the one exception to the religious leaders and community who would deliberately and intentionally choose not to come unto Jesus desiring to be healed and desiring to be forgiven of their sins.

 

            I am absolutely convinced there is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for when we come to the twelfth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find the religious leaders not only seeking to accuse and condemn Jesus’ disciples but also those in the synagogue seeking to tempt and accuse Jesus Himself. IN the opening verses of the twelfth chapter of this gospel narrative we find it written how Jesus and his disciples passed through the fields on the sabbath and how His disciples were hungry. As a direct result of their being hungry they would begin plucking the ears of corn from the stalks and eating them. What the apostle Matthew writes and records is how the Pharisees observed that which the disciples of Jesus did on the sabbath and sought to accuse them unto and in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Scripture reveals how the Pharisees would come unto Jesus and ask Him point blank and with all seriousness why His disciples violated and transgressed the Law and the sabbath. For the Pharisees they viewed the actions of the disciples as being a clear and present violation of the Sabbath and as a direct result of this sought to accuse them before and unto the Lord Jesus. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to religion which did not seek to be healed and forgiven by the Lord Jesus and instead sought to accuse both He and his disciples. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the Pharisees—and not only the Pharisees but the religious community as a whole—and how they would choose accusation, condemnation, and the like over repentance and being healed and forgiven.

 

            Having said and written these words I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the first portion of the twelfth chapter. It is within the first sets of verses of the twelfth chapter we not only find the Pharisees seeking to accuse the disciples of Jesus for somehow violating and transgressing the sabbath but also those in the synagogue seeking to tempt Jesus concerning the Sabbath. It would be in the synagogue where there was a man who had a withered hand and how those who were present on this particular day would ask Jesus whether or not it was lawful to heal on the sabbath. The apostle Matthew writes and records how the sole reason for them asking this question of Jesus was not because they were at all concerned for this man with the withered hand nor even desired his healing. The sole reason those in the synagogue asked Jesus whether or not it was lawful to heal on the sabbath day was that they might somehow find reason to accuse Jesus. What we find within this passage, however, is Jesus flipping the script and turning their question on its head and making it not a matter of healing on the sabbath but doing good on the sabbath. Jesus would hear their question and would completely turn it on its head as He would call them into question and the hypocrisy present within their own hearts. Oh how it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to religion and its leaders who not only had no interest in being healed and forgiven but also desired to accuse and tempt the Lord Jesus. Not only this but it would eventually lead the Pharisees to begin taking council together among themselves how they might destroy the Lord Jesus.

 

            With this being said I. invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first portion of the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the first verse. As you read these words I would like to call and draw your attention to those who not only had no interest or desire in being healed and forgiven but those who would rather accuse the Lord Jesus than find repentance and forgiveness in His presence. Consider if you will the following words found in the twelfth chapter of this New Testament gospel beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

 

            “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:1-8).

 

            “And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? That they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other” (Matthew 12:9-13).

 

            “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; and charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold, my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust” (Matthew 12:14-21).

 

            How absolutely incredible the words and language which is found in these passages truly are for they not only help us to understand the hypocrisy of the religious leaders but also how rather than repenting of their sins and being healed and forgiven they would seek to accuse the Lord Jesus. What’s more is not only would they seek to accuse the Lord Jesus but they would also seek to accuse His disciples—and not only accuse His disciples but accuse them of violating both the Law and the Sabbath. On this particular day the Pharisees would accuse the disciples of Jesus of somehow violating the sabbath day while there would be another day when they would seek to accuse them of violating the traditions of the elders by eating with unwashed hands. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the religious leaders and system of this day not only sought to find fault with Jesus Himself but they also sought to find fault with His disciples. Moreover it would be this fault which they perceived to be found within Jesus and His disciples that would bring them to the place where they would try and tame and control the Lord Jesus. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the four gospel narratives we find both the Jews as well as the religious leaders seeking to both tame and control Jesus—and not only tame them but also try and make Him fit into their own theological box. What the four gospel narratives reveal and demonstrate, however, is that Jesus would not allow Himself to be tamed nor would He allow Himself to be controlled by the religious leaders of that day nor even by the Jews themselves. It would be as a direct result of this they would take council among themselves to destroy Him and to have Him removed from among them during those days.

 

            I am convinced there is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in the opening portion of the twelfth chapter of this gospel narrative for the words presented here call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the Pharisees, the scribes and the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that the religious leaders not only sought to accuse Jesus and His disciples but also conspired together to destroy Him. That which we find in this passage of Scripture is not only the beginning of the Pharisees’ opposition of Jesus and His disciples but also their beginning to conspire against Him to destroy Him. When the Pharisees realized and understood they could not tame nor control Jesus and that He operated outside of their rules, boundaries and parameters they perceived Him as a threat that needed to be eliminated. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and consider how the Pharisees would begin to conspire together and take council among themselves how they might destroy the Lord Jesus. It would be in this passage of Scripture we find it written how the Pharisees sought to destroy and completely eradicate the Lord Jesus from the picture—something which must needs be carefully considered and recognized when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture. The more we read the words found here the more we are brought face to face with religion which not would not be healed and forgiven but would instead resort to accusing the Lord Jesus—and not only accusing Him but also accusing His disciples. The Pharisees and the scribes would accuse Jesus’ disciples of violating the sabbath by plucking and eating ears of corn on the sabbath and they would also accuse them of violating their traditions by eating with unwashed hands.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find one being brought unto Jesus who was possessed with a devil—blind and dumb. The apostle Matthew writes and records within this passage how Jesus healed this man possessed with the devil insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. Not only this but all the people were amazed at the incredible wonders the Lord Jesus performed among them during those days for never before had anything like this been seen in the earth. It’s important to realize and understand that while the people were amazed and asked whether or not Jesus was the Son of David the Pharisees heard it and proceeded to further accuse Jesus. What we must needs realize about this particular occasion is the Pharisees didn’t merely accuse Jesus of somehow violating the sabbath but rather they sought to accuse Jesus of something far greater and far more sinister. What we find in this passage of Scripture is the Lord Jesus being accused of the Pharisees of casting out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Pause for a moment and consider how incredibly dangerous this truly was when you actually think about what the Pharisees were accusing Jesus of. It was one thing for them to accuse Him of somehow violating the Sabbath, however, it was something else entirely to accuse Him of actually being in league with the devil himself.

 

            The words and language we find in this passage of Scripture must needs be carefully considered for it brings us to some of the most sobering words Jesus would speak unto men during those days in which he walked upon the earth. We know how in the seventh chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative the Lord Jesus would emphatically declare that not every one who said unto Him “Lord, Lord” would enter into the kingdom of heaven but those who did the will of His Father which was in heaven. Jesus would go on to declare that there would be many who would come to Him on that day and profess “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in thy name.” What’s more is Jesus would also go on to declare how there would be many during those days who would profess, saying, “Lord Lord, did we not cast our devils in thy name” and “Lord, Lord, did we not do many wonderful things in your name.” The Lord Jesus would look at them and not only profess that He never knew them but also commanded them to depart from Him for they were workers of iniquity. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding some of these words which the Lord Jesus would indeed speak unto His disciples and followers which would be incredibly sobering and challenging. What’s more is that if you read the words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find more words spoken by Jesus which were incredibly sobering and challenging—words concerning the sheep and the goats which would be divided on His right hand and on his left. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the final verses of the twenty-fifth chapter concerning the narrative of the sheep and the goats which the Lord Jesus would separate on His right and on His left according to what they did and didn’t do:

 

            “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these. My brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: Naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46).

 

            The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture are incredibly sobering for within them we are brought face to face with the last day when the sheep and the goats will be separated on the right and left hand of the King. In that day the sheep and the goats will not only be separated but one will enter into eternal life while the other will be sent away into everlasting punishment because of what they did and didn’t do. What’s more is the words which the Lord Jesus spoke in this passage of Scripture call and draws our attention to the tremendous and wonderful truth surrounding that which we do unto the least of these being that which we do unto Jesus Himself. We know from Scripture how it is possible for us to entertain angels unaware, however, this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding doing and not doing unto the least of these and how our actions and inaction is directly related to the Lord Jesus. Oh it is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous and wonderful truth surrounding these sobering words Jesus spoke which must needs be heard and understood by His disciples and followers. These words help serve as a foundation or additional commentary for the words which are presented in the twelfth chapter for within the twelfth chapter we find sobering words spoken by the Lord Jesus concerning all manner of sin being forgiven unto men with the notable exception of one—blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Jesus would declare in simple terms that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. What’s more is whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man it would be forgiven him, but whosoever speaks a word against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him—neither in this world, nor in the world to come.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful language Jesus used. Not only did Jesus suggest that blasphemy against the Son of man would be forgiven him as well as all manner of sin being forgiven him but he would also declare that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost would not be forgiven. What’s more is that as you continue reading the words which the Lord Jesus spoke on this particular occasion you will find him emphatically instructing and commanding those present to either make the tree good and the fruit good or make the tree corrupt and the fruit therefore corrupt. Moreover Jesus would go on to declare how a tree would be known by his fruit—words which would be echoed and repeated from the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus would speak of false prophets who come dressed in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Not only this but Jesus would also go on to use similar language when speaking unto the Pharisees for he would speak of them as being a generation of vipers and then asking how they being evil could speak good things. Jesus would then go on to declare and proclaim that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things while an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. What’s more is Jesus would go on to declare how every idle word which men speaks they would give an account in the day of judgment. As if this weren’t enough the Lord Jesus would go on to declare that it would be by our words we would be justified and by our words we would be condemned thus expressing the importance of the words we speak—and not only the importance of the words we speak but also the condition of our heart as well.

 

            As I bring this writing toa. Close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for it not only calls and invites us to examine the fruit that is found within our lives but also the condition of our hearts. The Lord Jesus made it perfectly clear that a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things while an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil things. Jesus would also go on to declare that every idle word which a man speaks would be called into account in the day of judgment and by our words we would be justified or condemned. What we must needs recognize and understand when reading these words is the direct link and connection that exists between the words which the Lord Jesus would speak unto His disciples after the Pharisees would accuse them of violating their traditions by eating with unwashed hands. It would be Jesus who would declare that out of the abundance the heart speaks and that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man but that which proceeds out of the heart. What’s more is we must needs recognize and understand that the single greatest barometer and gauge of the condition of our hearts is indeed the words which we speak. If you want to truly understand the condition and nature of your heart I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize, hear and listen to the words which proceed forth from our mouths. If you want to truly understand the condition of your heart you need look only at the words which proceed out of your mouth for the words which proceed forth from your mouth are the purest and truest reflection of your heart. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words found in the fifteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel as well as the words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James:

 

            “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, it is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:1-9).

 

            “And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear and understand. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:10-20).

 

            “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, withersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature: and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth. Proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (James 3:1-12).

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