God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 13 - Matthew 12:22-50: Of Signs, Demons, and Family

Today’s Reading: Matthew 12:22-50

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Unless we fill ourselves with God's Spirit, we will become worse than we were before.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

The Pharisees accused Jesus of working with Satan to excise demons. Jesus responded, "If Satan banished Satan, he would be destroyed. If you reject the Holy Spirit, you are condemning yourself."
The Pharisees questioned Jesus' Credentials. Jesus responded, "You aren't looking for proof. Even so, here is My Credential: Like Jonah, I will be in a grave three days and nights. You squabble over 'evidence' in front of the Son of God. Be careful, evil spirits love empty minds."
Jesus' immediate family came to visit. Jesus told everyone, "Obedience is thicker than blood. Those who obey Me are My Family."

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

There are only two sides: those who set things right and those who hinder setting things right.

This is a tough saying. At first we recoil from the thought that Jesus says either you are for Him or against Him. If we realize that Jesus does not say you either God's Chosen People or Satan's pawns this saying doesn't sound as radical. Jesus will later have a different saying in a similar situation, and realizing what He is saying here will help put the two together. People who may not recognize Jesus as their Savior often agree with His Teachings and thus set things right in their relationships. I don't believe this is what Jesus is getting at here. The Pharisees did not want to set things right because they wanted to make sure the Law was followed to the letter. They were against Jesus because they preferred to hold to their dogma instead of set things right.

Words can either be your salvation or your damnation.

The Pharisees openly doubted Jesus' Authority. Jesus wanted them to realize what you say will eventually get you into or out of trouble. Words are like people—they either help set things right or hinder it.

The Pharisees did not want proof.

Jonah did not get a great display of God's Power. He missed Elijah's view of God. He did not see a burning bush. Jonah was swallowed by a large fish and lived there for three days in order to see God's Power. The Pharisees wanted Elijah's and Moses' miraculous signs. Jesus knew their hearts and that they did not want to see to believe but find the limits of Jesus' Abilities to discredit Him. Therefore they would receive a similar sign as Jonah—nothing for three days. Beware those who seek great signs in order to believe. They may be stalling to figure out a way to get out of belief.

Demons love a vacuum.

John's message was received by many who later were not ready for Jesus' Message. They were tired of their old religion but were not ready to set things right. This is why Jesus tells them the parable of a man cleaning his home then having more devils take up residency. Bad ways of thinking and acting must be replaced with right ways of thinking and acting or the bad thoughts and acts will return and become more difficult to stop.
One thing I am concerned about when discussing people who do not like the church but love Jesus is that the removal of "religious" acts may never be replaced with relationship-building practices. Instead, they become cynical about anything related to a community of people setting things right and later become stuck in a new cycle of not setting things right without anyone to help. When discussing the problems within your church and what you do replace dead, traditional acts with new, lively ones. Stopping them all together may lead to a worse relationship with God.

Will your words save you or damn you?

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