22Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. 23All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.” 25He knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. 29Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. 30Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Whoever 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. 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. 34You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. 36I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; 37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 38Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. 41The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! 42The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! 43When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. 44Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.”
Our passage starts with an act of compassion: Jesus heals a mentally disturbed man who is also blind and dumb. Not surprisingly, “all the crowds were amazed” and began to ask if Jesus might just be the one the Jews had been promised, the Messiah, or as they put it, “the Son of David.” If he were this one, then the power and influence of the religious leaders (the Pharisees and the scribes), who saw themselves as the guardians of the nation’s development under God, would be challenged. So, they go on the offensive by turning an act of goodness into a demonic demonstration of power. They call white black and shut themselves off from seeing what is so obvious to the crowds—an act of divine goodness. Jesus not only shows up the illogic of their assertions—”the tree is known by its fruit” but also castigates these religious leaders as “a brood of vipers” and “an evil and adulterous generation.” But it is easy to put passages like this into a box entitled “nasty things said about Jesus by evil religious leaders” and then move on. Is there a Pharisee or scribe gene in us? Are there times when we act as though we are so sure of our position that we miss seeing an act of goodness for what it is? Maybe we too fear our loss of power and influence.
Stephen Lyon Author London, England.
What challenges does verse 36 present to you in your daily life? Does it call for any change in your behavior?
O Lord, help me to see and thank you for evidence of your goodness in my life. Amen.
Crafton, Barbara Cawthorne. A Journey With Matthew: The 50 Day Bible Challenge . Forward Movement. Kindle Edition. Crafton, Barbara Cawthorne. A Journey With Matthew: The 50 Day Bible Challenge . Forward Movement. Kindle Edition.