Week 52 | Section 61
Our reading today is one of three passages in the Harmony of the Gospels that render ink to the harsh saying of Jesus.
In this instance, Jesus calls the pharisees “a brood of vipers” and challenges not only their logic but their motives and priorities.
This is a passage that many irenic Christians would rather skip over, however it provides disciples the opportunity to explore several important spiritual truths including: conflict, kingdom-mindedness, peace-keeping, discernment, admonishment, spiritual warfare, the day of judgement, and Christian virtue.
22 Then one possessed by a demon, blind and mute, was brought to him1 and he healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.2 23 All the multitudes were amazed, and said, “Can this be the son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees3 heard it, they said, “This man does not cast out demons, except by Beelzebul, the prince of the demons.”4¯5 25 Knowing their thoughts,6 Jesus said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?7 27 If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your children cast them out?8 Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then God’s Kingdom has come upon you.9 29 Or how can one enter into the house of the strong man, and plunder his goods, unless he first bind the strong man? Then he will plunder his house. 30 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who doesn’t gather with me, scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against10 the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is to come. 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. 34 You offspring of vipers,11¯12¯13 how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. 35 The good man out of his good treasure brings out good things, and the evil14 man out of his evil treasure brings out evil things.15 36 I tell you that every idle word that men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.16 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”17¯18[/one_half][one_half last=”yes”]Scripture:
20 The multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 21 When his friends heard it, they went out to seize him: for they said, “He is insane.”
22 The scribes19 who came down20 from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul,” and, “By the prince of the demons he casts out the demons.” 23 He summoned them, and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan?21 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.22 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 If Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he can’t stand, but has an end.
27 But no one can enter into the house of the strong man to plunder, unless he first binds the strong man; and then he will plunder his house. 28 Most certainly I tell you, all sins of the descendants of man23 will be forgiven, including their blasphemies with which they may blaspheme; 29 but whoever may blaspheme against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.” 30 —because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”[/one_half]
- How has fear caused you to react irrationally in the past?
- Talk about the difference between intuition and the spiritual gift of discernment.
- Have you ever felt the Lord admonish you? What lesson did you learn? How did your attitudes and actions change afterwards?
- Do we care more about church growth or our personal well-being or are we most concerned with advancing the Kingdom of God? What would it look like if we shifted our priorities in ministry to be the Kingdom of God?
- What is the fruit of your current ministry? If there is little, can you identify that you are in a season of ministry? Which one? What are you and the team doing then to pass through this season and prepare yourself for the fruit bearing season?
- How do you think we should deal with conflict, differences of opinion, or wrong teaching within your congregation, the Church, or your community?