I know that we talk a lot about how, politically, our nation has become polarized. Still, people who find that they don’t fit neatly into either polar position can opt to choose a third way – either by voting for a third candidate or not voting at all. Now, I’m not going to comment or even speculate on the efficiency or responsibility of those options, because regardless of a person’s opinion about the matter, a third way does exist.
That, however, is not what I’m going to write about.
In our text we’ll be reading this Sunday, Matthew 12:22-37, Jesus presents what seems to be an extremely polarized view of the world. A world where there are only two choices to be made concerning two different kingdoms, and the stakes are way beyond mere political platform or policy. It’s a fairly uncomfortable passage, but it’s there, and we need to wrestle around with it and see how it will shape our lives.
As you read the text from v22-24 you see right away that Jesus has a polarizing effect on people. There are two very distinct opinions forming about him. Jesus will latch onto that and develop a picture of the world in stark contrasts between good and evil.
Jesus’ counter argument from v25-30 starts with a logical premise that brings to the surface the dualistic view of this world. There is a kingdom of our enemy, the devil, and there is a kingdom of God. He clearly portrays these at odds with each other and in conflict. His logic is pretty simple: why would the devil be working at cross purposes against himself? Which reveals something about the nature of Jesus’ mission. In fact, v29 pretty much describes what Jesus is up to. Who do you think the “strong man” is? What is the house and what is the plunder that is taken (put it in the context of what started this whole thing in v22 – the healing of the demon possessed man)?
V31-32 has had the effect of scaring some people, especially those new to the faith. They worry that Jesus is describing some poorly identified way to sin that can never be forgiven if committed. Have you ever worried about that? Just to put your mind at ease, that’s not what he’s trying to say. He’s talking about how the Pharisees were claiming that the devil was the source of Jesus’ work. If they reject Jesus and the salvation that’s offered, there’s no other way offered that provides forgiveness. To reject the work of the Holy Spirit through Jesus is to reject forgiveness by God – hence, forgiveness is withheld.
V33-37 deals primarily with our use of language. The words we speak and the way we communicate reveals something about ourselves. How can we see to it that the words we communicate are in harmony with the purposes of God’s kingdom in this world?
Hope to see you this Sunday!