This week’s reading: Matthew 12:15-37
We ended last week’s reading hearing about how the religious of the time of Jesus wanted to kill Him because He refused to follow their manmade rules. Threatened by His growing popularity, as well as by His simple truth of Love, they begin to look for ways to discredit Jesus so that they can have reason to be rid of Him. These religious start out with an agenda, then look for whatever they can to point to the need and legitimacy of what they want to do. We will be reading from Matthew chapter 12 verses 15 to 37 this week, but listen to this great prophecy about Jesus:
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.” Mt 12:18-21 NIV
Who are we following? When we start out with our own agenda, we can always twist and turn things that are happening to fit that agenda…this is part of The Downfall, because this is exactly what the old serpent, that devil, did to Adam and Eve. His MMI, Prideful nature had to distort God’s Truth and Love to make it bring him influence and power. You see, when God created mankind, He gave humans the power to have dominion over this world. The devil had no power…until he convinced these humans to give him their God-given power. And both Adam and Eve fell for his trick. Eve became deceived by the seemingly innocent advice of the serpent, and Adam chose to follow his wife’s lead instead of turning to God…and down their nature fell. Now after The Downfall, all humans since then have been subject to the power of selfishness, sin and death. Ahhh, but this is what Jesus came to destroy and restore! When we surrender our lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord, He gives us back the power and authority we should have had in the beginning. Of course, the devil still tries to trick us into thinking we have no power, but the more we mature in Christ, the more we connect with Him, the more we DO have the power to say “NO!” We say “NO!” to our selfishness. “NO!” to sin. And we can even say “NO!” to death because Jesus has given each sincere believer Eternal Life, AND in Him, we no longer need to sense those “death symptoms” I often talk about…things like depression, anxiety, rage and so on. In Jesus, because of the Holy Spirit that dwells within our spirit, we no longer are subject, or mastered by, or controlled by…whichever way you want to name it…we are free from selfishness, sin and death. This means we are free also from the false authority of the devil too. Please let us never forget, he is a defeated foe! On the Cross, and proved by the Resurrection, Jesus has won the war against the devil and his cohorts! We are free from having to live this life on our own, and free from the lies the devil continues to try to entrap us with. Sadly, these Pharisees and lawyers and scribes and…and all these religious people that encountered Jesus, missed this freedom, and continued to seek their own agenda and holiness instead. This self-righteous attitude was their downfall…and it still can be ours today.
Jesus is the fulfillment of all our needs. There are at least 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that Jesus came to fulfill. The one I read above is from the Book of Isaiah 42:1-4, but the point is, these religious should have been aware of all these, yet because their eyes were focused on Self instead of on God, they missed it. Do we, Church? The Jewish people, God’s people, were supposed to be pointing all the nations to God, but instead, they began to assimilate with all the nations! They, and now we, were always meant to be different because we belong to God, but are we acting like the rest of this lost and confused world instead? The point where the Israelites really lost their unique identity can be found in the Book of 1Samuel 8 starting in verse 1, but listen to this deadly compromise in verse 5: “They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’” (my emphasis) You see, the devil knows that he has no power or authority at all, so he must continually attempt to trick God’s people- that includes you and me, if you have sincerely surrender to Jesus. Up until this point in the history of the Israelites, God had been their King…and my Friends, now too, God continues to be the King of kings, no matter who is on the government’s throne. Yet because God is a Gentleman, because He so loves us, when He sees our hearts are hardened, He allows us the freedom to have our way. Our way always, inevitably, leads to trouble, and it is God’s Hope that when problems come, that we will return to the True King, and receive the help we need to get back on track. This track is displaying how God’s people are different. Not better, mind you! We are all a decision away from havoc, when we turn away from God. But different. Different in the way we handle any trials that come our way. Whether they come because we are being disobedient or because the devil is doing his worse to make us fall, we should remain in peace and have consistent joy no matter what is going on, because God is still, and will always be, on His Throne! There are two ways the devil tries to get rid of us who are learning to give God all the glory in all things by leaning on Him as our King. 1- He tries to kill us. 2- He tries to get us to assimilate to the world. Church, by God’s Grace, we will not die! God promises to keep a remnant of followers. The Church will always exist because gates of hell cannot prevail, praise God! (see Mt 16:18) But do we assimilate? Are we agreeing with the sinful agendas of this culture by agreeing that things God clearly says are sin, are not…and worse, celebrating the sin? Church, we must let these religious in our reading be a warning for us.
The fight continues. Jesus continues to heal the hurting and continues to get opposition because of it. Here we read how He heals a blind and mute man, and the people begin to be filled with Hope asking, “Could this be the Son of David?” (v23 from our reading) The Son of David is another name for the Messiah they had been waiting for for so long. And again, these religious who should have been the first to seek the answer to this question, instead begin to dismiss and belittle the miraculous works of Jesus. They call Him the devil! Yikes! Jesus simply points them to the Kingdom of God. You see, there is no kingdom that can exist, and continue, if there is division among its ranks. Here Jesus simply says, if I am casting out demons with the power of the prince of demons, then his false kingdom of darkness is about to fall. But if He is working in the power of the Holy Spirit, if He is doing the Father’s work, then it is clear that Jesus is the fulfillment for the Kingdom of God to be in their presence. Only Jesus, the Messiah, could bind the strongman, a reference to Satan, and be able to completely demolish his false reign over Humanity. Jesus could not be working with the devil because he came to destroy his false power. The devil is only as strong as we allow him to be. When we choose to listen to him instead of to God, just like our original forefathers did, he gains control over us and we think he has power. But again I remind us, the devil is a defeated foe! On the Cross, Jesus, once and for all, disarmed these demons and their leader! (see Col 2:15) The only reason this fight against selfishness, sin and death continues is because we, the Church, have not known and/or made known this truth. The war is won, my Friends, now we must connect with God, submit and obey Him. Sound simple, right? Ahh…but that MMI, Prideful nature we used to have is slow to leave us! The only way to live in the victory Jesus has already won for us is to believe what the Father has done for us, to surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and to continually lean on the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and guidance. Jesus puts it this way, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (v30 of our reading) Or in other words, if we are not helping “spread the news” about the Kingdom of God, then we are hurting it. With Jesus by our side, we do continue to fight, but we can only be successful as we surrender, submit and obey His lead. Remember, Christians are not believers of Christ…we are BOTH believers and followers of Christ!
The only unpardonable sin. God is so very gracious towards every human being. In the end, the only sin God will not, and cannot, forgive is if we refuse to receive the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us Eternal Life, so to not trust the Father and surrender to the Son, means we will not have this Giver of Life within our hearts. We will perish with our old, sinful, MMI, Prideful nature which does not desire to be one with God. If we choose to not be with God, then we are choosing to be in that other place. I have said this before and I will say it again, there are only two destinies when we leave this world: Heaven OR hell. It is not God’s desire for anyone to go to hell (Eze 33:11; 1Ti 2:4; 2Pe 3:9), but if we do not want to be with God, then hell is our only other choice. I do Hope you have already made the decision FOR Christ, but if you know others who have not, please understand this is the point of becoming born again. It is not only about us going to Heaven, but also about displaying the Abundant Life in Christ, so others will want to join us. If our Salvation was all about entering Paradise, then the moment we surrendered to Jesus and received the Holy Spirit, off we would go…but we are still here. We are to join in this mission of Jesus to bring the Kingdom of God down to this hurting world, and then bring some souls to Him so Jesus can save them as well. This is our mission and it is the focus and goal of my life. And every time I remember that I am His, that I am free, that the devil is already defeated, my life becomes more and more filled with peace and joy and righteousness, no matter what is going on around me. Want that? Then won’t you join me?
Until we meet again, keep lifting your eyes to God, He’s closer than you think.
<>< Peace, Diane