THE LIFE OF CHRIST

PART 35

 

In our last lesson on the Life of Christ, we looked at what Jesus said about John the Baptist, and we looked at Jesusí encounter with a sinful woman, while He was in Simonís house. In this lesson, we start out with a brief mentioning of another tour made by Jesus and His disciples in Galilee.

 

Luke 8:1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him,2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities -- Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

 

It is believed this is Jesus second tour through Galilee. They went through every city and village preaching the same message about how the kingdom of God was near. Of course, Jesusí apostles were with Him, and no doubt were learning and helping out along the way.Luke teaches us that there were many women who provided financial help to Jesus, and Markís account tells us that these women ministered to Him while He was in Galilee (Mk.15:40). The word ministered come from the same Greek word translated as deacon, which simply means to serve. In general sense anyone who serves can be called a deacon, but not everyone can be a deacon in the specific sense as outlined1 Tim. 3 because only men are qualified to be one.

 

The first woman mentioned is Mary called Magdalene, which means she came from Magdala. Though some have tried to say this Mary was the sinful woman that came to Jesus that we talked about last week, there is nothing linking her to that woman. Some also try to say that she was the woman caught in adultery that the Jews brought before Jesus as He drew on the ground. Again, there is no real evidence to support this.All we know is what our text tells us, which was that she had seven demons in her. Mary Magdalene is one of the 7 Marys mentioned in the New Testament, but she is one of the more prominent ones. She was at the cross and saw all that happened surrounding that event. She was the first person Jesus appeared to and He trusted that she would tell the others that He had risen.

 

We know very little about the other two women or the others, but we do know that had resources and they served Jesus in the best way they knew how. Women have always played an important role in the kingdom of God. Just because they are limited to serve in certain ways does not mean that they cannot serve at all or make a big difference in the kingdom of God.

 

The next event we are going to look at is recorded in Matthew 12, Mark 3, and Luke 11. As you would expect, each account offers some unique information, but we are going to spend most of our time in Matthew, but we will start out with Markís account.

 

Mark 3:20 Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.21 But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, "He is out of His mind."

When people heard about Jesus being in their area, they would gather together in great numbers because, they wanted to see Him, touch Him, and be healed by Him. There were so many gathered around Him that He could not eat. This happened many times to Jesus, which is why we find Him and His disciples at time withdrawing to a remote area or to a boat to rest from the demanding people.

 

When Jesusí own people had heard about what Jesus was doing, which would include His preaching, working miracles, selecting 12 apostles, etc, they thought He had gone mad. This is not talking about His apostles, but those He grew up around. We can understand this because these people did not really believe in Him. They think He is just a carpenterís son, which is why they think He must be insane and needs to be brought in and reasoned with.

 

Notice what Matthew records in:

 

Matthew 12:22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."

 

Some like to claim that demon possession still occurs today, but it does not. Zechariah 13 is a chapter I believe teaches about the temporary nature of demon possession. Casting out demons was one of the proofs that Jesus was the Messiah. These Jews thought this same thing because when it says Jesus cast the demon out of this man, they were amazed and wondered if He might be the Messiah. Jesus was reaching a lot of people as they saw these amazing miracles He did, but His miracles had the opposite effect on the opposing Pharisees.

 

There was no way for them to deny that Jesus had cast this demon out of this man. So, their strategy is one we see in politics all the time. They were trying attack Jesusí character by saying that the only way He was casting out demons was by the power of Beelzebub, which the Jews associated with Satan. Notice how Easton Bible dictionary defines Beelzebub:

 

499 Beelzebub the name given to Satan, and found only in the New TestamentMt 10:25 12:24,27 Mk 3:22 It is probably the same as Baalzebub (q.v.), the god of Ekron, meaning "the lord of flies," or, as others think, "the lord of dung," or "the dung-god."

 

If they could get the people thinking that Jesus was nothing more than a pawn of Satan, the people would stop listening to Him and even hate Him. Lukeís accounts add this:

 

Luke 11:16 Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven.

 

Not only were some of them making false claims, others wanted Him to do more miracles to prove who He was. Next, we read:

 

Luke 11:17 But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.18 "If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub.19 "And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.20 "But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

 

One of the great advantages that Jesus had was His ability to read the very thoughts of man. So, He focuses on proving their false statement wrong about Him casting out demons by the power Beelzebub.

 

First, Jesus makes the logical argument that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. So, why in the world would Satan allow His own demons to be cast out? How could His kingdom stand or gain ground if he is opposing himself? Of course, the Pharisees had no answer for this because I think they knew there was no way Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Satan because it does not make any sense.

 

Second, He uses their own sons as an example by asking if they cast of demons by the power of Satan. The Jews understood that there are two forces in the world. There is Satan, and there is God. Jesus makes the argument that by whatever power their sons cast demons out with has to be the same power that He is using. However, I do not think these sons actually had the ability to cast out demons, but Jesus uses their alleged power to cast them out to make His point, because the only way demons are going to be cast out is by the finger of God.

 

I love the following example that proves this in:

 

Acts 19:13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches."14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.15 And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?"16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

 

Next, Jesus says:

 

Luke 11:21"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.22 "But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.23 "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

 

Third, Jesus calls Satan a strong man who is fully armed and his goods are at peace. But when one stronger comes, referring to God or more specifically Jesus, He will overcome Him, which is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus showed His authority and power over Satan as He commanded these demons to leave people, and they had to obey.

 

As Jesus said in verse 23, we need to make a choice in this life. We either need to stand with Jesus or not. God has given us a free will to make that decision, but it the biggest decision you can make because it makes the difference between being lost and saved.

 

Matthew 12:31 " Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.32 "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

 

This particular saying of Jesus is one that has caused much discussion because what does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Can it be done today? One view is that this was a one time situation that was directed to these Jews because when they were accusing Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebub, they were speaking against the Holy Spirit claiming Him to be the devil because it was the power of the Holy Spirit that caused this to happen. Based on this view only those Jews that day committed the unpardonable sin and would not be forgiven. Therefore no one can be guilty of this sin today. While some hold this view, I do not think this is what Jesus was referring to.

 

I want you to consider what Guy N. Woods said regarding this topic;

 

ďBlasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mk. 12:31-32) is an unpardonable sin, but so is every sin unrepented of.Ē (Guy N. Woods Questions and answers).

 

He also said this:

 

The sin against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:31-32), is, in principle, the rejection of the revelation which the Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, made, first through our Lord, and then through His representatives. It is the denial of the Spiritís message initially, by direct inspiration, and then through the Book, the practical effects of which is the rejection of the Deity of our Lord, the repudiation of His sacrificial death, the annulment of the Atonement, and the implication that a sacrifice will yet be made. Those who thus do would crucify Christ ďafresh,Ē from the allegation that He who died on the cross was an imposter and that the suffering Savior must yet appear, and suffer. Salvation is denied those of this category, not because it is not offered to them, but because they have permanently rejected it. (Heb. 6:1ff; 10:25-28). The ever-flowing waters of the Well of life are always available to those who desire to come and to quench their thirst. (Guy N. Woods Questions and answers).

 

Even more support for this view can be seen by what C.E.W. Dorris wrote:

 

What is the sin, then, against the Holy Spirit? Many think these people committed that sin. But did they speak against Christ or against the Holy Spirit? Clearly, against Christ; Jesus, as we understandit, told them, In this you speak against me. For this, there is a chance for forgiveness. But when the Holy Spirit is come, if you speak against Him, if you reject Him, as you now reject me, there will then be no forgiveness. It was a warning, given on the occasion of their speaking against Him, that they cannot so treat the Holy Spirit when He shall come, and find forgiveness. The reason is, they speak against Christ during His life, and when the Holy Spirit shall come, He will give additional evidence that Jesus is the Son of God, and opportunities to hear God and return. But when the Spirit shall come and given His testimonies and revelations, the testimony will be complete, and he who rejects that will have nothing more to move him to repentance. (C.E.W. Dorris Commentary on Mark).

 

Hearing what these men wrote might be kind of hard to comprehend because of their writing style. So, I am going to put this in the simplest terms that I can. Jesus is saying that they can reject Him right now and what He is teaching, but when the Holy Spirit comes and fully reveals the Word of God through His apostles and others, we will have the full will of God. If we deny the Word of God and what it says about Jesus and how to live a righteous life, then we are blaspheming that is speaking against our last hope. If we reject what the Holy Spirit has given us through the Word of God, there is nothing else or any other plan that is going to be given by God that will save us. To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to deny eternal salvation in heaven. Anyone who rejects Godís plan of salvation will not be forgiven.

However, I do not believe that Jesus is saying that once you reject the Word of God that you can never be forgiven because you can if you turn to God and then accept what the Holy Spirit has said through the Word of God. Saul would be a good example because He certainly rejected what the Holy Spirit was teaching through Godís people and was responsible for many Christians being put to death. Yet, he was allowed to be a Christian and even one of the apostles after he came to his senses and turned to God.

 

While I know this topic can somewhat confusing, I believe this latter view is the correct view of what Jesus meant.

 

Next Jesus says:

 

Matthew 12:33 " Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.34 "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.35 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.36 "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

 

Jesus goes right back to the heart and the higher standard that we are to uphold. Jesus illustrates this with a tree. Trees can look similar on the outside, but only a good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree can only produce bad fruit. The fruit Jesus is talking about is what comes from our hearts. It is not enough to say you are religious and that you love God, your words and your actions must show it.

Jesus knew these opposing Jews were corrupt because He calls them Brood of vipers, which would be equivalent to calling them sons of the devil. Some like to think that Jesus never said a negative thing to anyone .Well, this verse alone disproves that, but there many other times that Jesus rebukes these opposing Jews with some strong language.

 

Jesus is warning these Jews that they better watch out what they say because the evil words they spew out from their corrupt hearts will condemn them on the Day of Judgment.

 

We need to learn from this that the importance of having a pure heart. We can call ourselves Christians all day long and say that we love Jesus, but if our hearts are not pure, then we are going to bear bad fruit and heaven will not be our home. We must continually work on purifying our hearts with the Word God because it is the only seed that will produce good fruit. When our hearts are pure, our speech will be pure also.

 

Jesus then says:

 

Matthew 12:38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You."39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.41 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.42 "The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.

 

The men were not interested in Jesus doing a miracle to prove anything. Instead, they were testing Jesus. Had He done another miracle, they would have criticized it one way or another. There are several occasions when Jesus is asked to perform, but He would not do it because He knew their hearts.

 

Notice, He calls them an adulterous generation because their hearts were corrupt and they were not being faithful to God or His Law. The only sign He is willing to give them was Jonah and the fish. Jesus used this reference to speak about His death, burial, and resurrection. The fact that Jesus uses Jonah and this big fish or sea creature proves that it was not some made up story, but that it happened.

 

The gentile Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah. The queen of the South better known as the Queen of Sheba, who was also a gentile, heeded the wisdom that came from Solomon, which came from God. Jesus is saying on the judgment day this adulterous generation will be condemned by these Gentiles who were willing to accept the wisdom of God because these Jews were being rebellious and refused to repent or take heed to the Word of God. Jesus tells them that He is greater than Jonah and Solomon, yet they continue to reject Him.

 

Sometimes it does not seem to matter how much evidence you show some people, they will not listen to the truth. Many denominations have been created by man, but Jesus only built one church. Those who follow their own path instead of Godís are going to find themselves in the same positions as these rebellious Jews.

 

Matthew 12:43 " When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.44 "Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.45 "Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation."

 

Please note what Coffman said about verse 43:

 

This parable of a wandering demon applies to the Jewish nation, which is "the man." The "going out" represents the spiritual rebirth of Israel under the preaching of John the Baptist. The "swept and garnished" period (in next verse) referred to the lack of any meaningful change in the character of the people, and the relatively innocuous neglect of Christ during the early part of his ministry. The restlessness of the demon showed the anxious and unrelenting hostility of the forces of evil and their determination against Christ.

 

Jesus uses this idea of a demon leaving a man and coming back with more demons and applies it to these opposing Jews, but the principle Jesus is teaching from this applies to us all. Here is why I am saying this. Jesus is basically saying if you get yourself in order and the evil is cast out of you, if that is all you do, you are nothing more than an empty vessel that can be filled once again with evil and more of it.

 

In order for that not to happen, you must fill yourself with righteousness so the evil way has no more room to come into you. For example, if someone obeys the gospel today that is wonderful because his sins are forgiven and he is a babe in Christ, but if that is all he does and he does not continue to grow in the way of God, he is leaving himself open for sin to come in and corrupt him even more than it did before. As Peter said:

 

2 Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.

 

Jesus is teaching us and the Jews an important lesson of being faithful and making real changes and not just being a follower of God in name only. Otherwise, it will not be long until we are back on the broad road that leads to destruction.

 

Our final verses say this:

 

Matthew 12:46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.47 Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You."48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?"49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers!50 "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother."

The crowd is so large that Jesusí mother and brothers could not get to Him. We are not told what message they had for Jesus, but what Jesus says next is important because He shows that the most important thing in life is your spiritual relationship with God. Jesus Himself said:

 

Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

 

I do not believe that Jesus was by any means saying that family is not important because He certainly respected His mother, but He is making the point that whoever does the will of the Father is His kin as well. We should learn from this that we should never let our loved keep us from serving God because He must always come first.

 

One last thing I want to point is that Jesus had brothers and sisters (Mt. 13:55-56), which shows that Mary had more children and was not a perpetual virgin as the Catholics proclaimed. Consider one more verse:

 

Matthew 1:24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

 

This clearly teaches that Joseph knew his wife after Jesus was born, which means she was not a perpetual virgin.

 

We learned a lot about Jesus and what He taught on His second preaching tour of Galilee. I hope you will be able to take the lessons we have learned in this and be motivated to continue to grow closer to God so you donít find yourself wide open for Satan to come into your life.