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52. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:22-40.12.45; Mark 3:22-41.3.30; Luke 11:14-42.11.36)
On one occasion when Jesus cast out demons, the Pharisees accused him of doing it by the power of Satan, the prince of demons (Matthew 12:22-40.12.24; Luke 11:14-42.11.16). Jesus replied that if the prince of demons used his own power to cast out demons, he would be creating civil war in his own kingdom. He would be destroying himself. The only way a strong man can be defeated is if a stronger man overpowers him. In casting out demons Jesus showed that he was stronger than Satan. His reign, which would result in the destruction of Satan, had begun (Matthew 12:25-40.12.29; Luke 11:17-42.11.22).
God could forgive the doubts and misunderstandings people had about Jesus, but he would not forgive their defiant rejection of the clear evidence that all Jesus’ works were good and that they originated in God. Those who called God’s Spirit Satan, who called good evil, had put themselves in a position where they had no way of acknowledging God’s goodness. Therefore, they had no way of receiving his forgiveness (Matthew 12:30-40.12.32).
The good works that Jesus did were evidence of his goodness, just as good fruit is evidence of a good tree. Likewise the evil works of the Pharisees were evidence of their evil hearts, and this evidence will be used against them in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:33-40.12.37).
Again the Pharisees asked Jesus to perform a miracle as a sign that he was the Messiah, and again Jesus refused. The only sign would be his resurrection from the dead, which would be the Father’s unmistakable confirmation that Jesus was his Son. By their rejection of Jesus, they were guaranteeing that in the judgment day they would be in a far worse position than the heathen. The queen of the Gentile kingdom of Sheba recognized Solomon’s wisdom, and the people of the heathen city of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching, but the Jews of Jesus’ time stubbornly refused to accept him as the Messiah (Matthew 12:38-40.12.42; Luke 11:29-42.11.32).
Jesus gave an illustration to show that people could not remain neutral. If they were not whole-heartedly committed to him, in the end they would be against him. They would be like a person who benefits temporarily by being cleansed of demons, but because he does nothing positive to fill his life with better things, he becomes possessed by even worse demons. The people of Jesus’ time benefited temporarily from his gracious ministry, but if they did not positively turn from their sin and accept him as the God-sent Saviour, they would in the end be under a more severe condemnation than they were originally (Matthew 12:43-40.12.45; Luke 11:23-42.11.28).
If people allowed God’s light to shine into their hearts, it would drive out the darkness and enable them to take this light to others. But if they rejected the light, the darkness within them would become even darker (Luke 11:33-42.11.36).
AROUND THE JORDAN VALLEY
95. Jesus accuses Pharisees and scribes (Luke 11:37-42.11.54)
The Pharisees thought that religion consisted of keeping ceremonial laws. Yet their hearts were full of wicked plans to advance themselves while at the same time they oppressed others. They took great care in washing their hands and cleaning cups and plates, but made no effort to clean the evil out of their hearts (Luke 11:37-42.11.41).
In calculating the amount of their offerings to God, the Pharisees were very strict in measuring exactly one tenth of their garden produce, even counting the seeds and stalks. But this was of no value if they did not practise love, mercy and justice towards their fellows (Luke 11:42). They were proud and vain, always looking for people’s praise, but in God’s sight they were as unclean as graves full of decaying bodies. And just as graves spread their uncleanness to people who touched them, so the Pharisees spread their uncleanness to all who came in contact with them (Luke 11:43-42.11.44).
The scribes felt insulted when they heard Jesus speak against the Pharisees like this, because they were the professional teachers who laid down the laws that the Pharisees followed. Jesus saw this as all the more reason to condemn them, because they burdened others with laws that they were unable to keep themselves (Luke 11:45-42.11.46). They honoured dead prophets with lavish tombs, but persecuted living prophets who brought them God’s message. Some they killed, as their ancestors had done in Old Testament times. They shared in the violence of their ancestors, and would suffer accordingly (Luke 11:47-42.11.51).
Because the scribes’ detailed interpretations of Scripture were difficult to understand, they had, in effect, shut people off from God’s Word. They were skilful in twisting the meaning of words, and used this ability constantly to try to trick Jesus into saying something whereby they could find fault with him (Luke 11:52-42.11.54).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 11". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany