About an hour before my alarm was to wake me up, our power went off. It is currently 905am, and the power is still off. So I’m using my laptop on battery, and typing my devotion in a Word file, so I can cut and paste it later.
Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
22 The a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw.
23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
This is the second time the religious leaders have accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the devil. But this time, he sets them straight. He pretty much lets them know how ridiculous their accusation is. If Satan casts out his own minions, then his house is divided against itself, and cannot stand. On the other hand, if Jesus is doing this by the Holy Spirit’s power, then “the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
In this context, Satan is the strong man, and Jesus has, effectively, bound him.
Jesus gives an ultimatum that there is no middle ground with him. We are either with him, or we aren’t. This goes back to what I wrote a couple days ago about Jesus being exactly who he says he is. There is no use thinking that Jesus was “a good teacher.” No. He wasn’t. Because, if he was simply a teacher, then he was lying about who he said he was, or he was a madman, either of which would pretty much disqualify him from being a “good teacher.” Either we believe he is who he says he is, or we don’t. Those are the only true choices.
Finally, he voices the words that have concerned people for years. Many a Christian worries that he has blasphemed against the Holy Spirit. In this particular passage, I think the context is clear. The Pharisees had accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan, when he was, in fact, doing it by the power of the Holy Spirit. These Pharisees would not be forgiven. They attributed the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan.
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.
34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.
36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,
37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
I think this passage should scare us more than the passage about blasphemy. Our words are important, and the things we say come out of the things in our heart. It is important to note that the Bible attaches just as much significance to lies, gossip, and slander as it does to adultery and murder. We must monitor what kind of “treasure” we have in our hearts.
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 For just 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 at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
42 the queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”
The most significant part of this passage is telling us that we need not be looking for signs. Faith does not need signs, does it? This tells me that the segment of Christianity that is all about the “signs and wonders” is way off base. Our faith does not require signs, and Jesus said that there would be no sign given, other than what had already been given. Now, I will say this. I do believe that the Holy Spirit still works miracles, especially in areas where the gospel is just beginning to reach. But Jesus condemned the religious leaders, because the men of Nineveh repented at the message of Jonah, and here was one much greater than Jonah speaking to them, and their arrogance refused to allow them to listen.
43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.
44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order.
45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and the enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also it will be with this evil generation.”
Removing the evil from our hearts is not enough. We must replace it with something better, otherwise, the “evil” may return, more viciously than before. Jesus continues to relate these things to the generation in front of him, that of the religious leaders.
46 While he was speaking to the people, behold, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.
48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he 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.”
We are not told what his family was wanting to talk to him about. But Jesus was at a point in his life when blood relations were not as important as spiritual relations. It’s not so much that he was denying his blood relatives, as he was making a point. In Christ, we are all brothers and sisters, and this relationship will ultimately supersede that of blood family.
There are some important passages in chapter 9. First, is the very popular Messianic prophecy.
2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Who can read this without beginning to hum part of Handel’s “Messiah?” Well, maybe a lot of people, but not me. Anyway…these are some great prophecies of the Messiah. But he follows this with some admonitions against the religious leaders of the day.
13 The people did not turn to him who struck them,
nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.
14 So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail,
palm branch and reed in one day—
15 the elder and honored man is the head,
and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail;
16 for those who guide this people have been leading them astray,
and those who are guided by them are swallowed up.
17 Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men,
and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows;
for everyone is godless and an evildoer,
and every mouth speaks folly.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.
It is a terrible thing to read that “those who guide this people have been leading them astray.” I see that happening in our modern day, as well. “Pastors” are teaching thousands of people things that are not Biblical. The people are being lead astray. However, it is more than just in churches. People are being led astray by their country’s leadership, as well, in all parts of the world. It is not just religious.
Father, I do not have time to complete my readings today. I pray that our worship this morning will be acceptable to you, and meaningful to us. Let us have an encounter with you as we worship you this morning.
The power has come back one, but I’m out of time. I must get ready to leave.
Grace and peace, friends.