Divided Kingdoms

Ever met someone who is completely unassuming? They are just salt of the earth people who blend in really well? Yet, there is something spectacularly exceptional about them and the way the Lord uses them. That is precisely Jesus Christ. Who came not for circumstances of celebration, nor was He here for the pomp of grandeur. Christ reminds in us Luke 2:49~And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (NKJ) Meanwhile, the Pharisees are placed in a conundrum, for they cannot deny Jesus’ power, now what? So, they lie with a purpose. Matthew 12:24~But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons. (NIV) 

So many times when we don’t understand things, and we blame Satan. Mind you he doesn’t get credit enough and correctly blamed. Thus the Pharisees are attempting to place Jesus among Satans minions. They stand frayed at the fringe of the feverish crowd where Christ can’t hear them. However, Jesus knows, as He always does, and so He addresses them in, Matthew 12:25~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. (ESV) Matthew 12:26~And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? (ESV) The point He is making is that any household, city, or kingdom experiencing internal conflict and strife will self-destruct. Their response is foolishness. Satan doesn’t cast out his cohorts.

Matthew 12:27~And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons (υἱός huios) cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. (ESV) The word (υἱός huios) sons seem to take aim at Pharisees disciples who practiced exorcism. Jesus says to them, how do your boys do this work? He has painted them into a corner, for the (υἱός huios) to judge. Matthew 12:28~But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (ESV) Again Jesus is the King.

This means that He has brought the kingdom of God near to them. His power over Satan’s demons proves Jesus is the Messiah. To bolster the education, He offers an illustration asking who is powerful enough to enter, bind, and possess. Matthew 12:29~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. The implication here is only someone more powerful than Satan, can bind Satan and then ransack his house. Who can do that? Only Jesus.

Is there something in your house that needs to be released? It could be a vice that we need to let go of as we allow God the freedom needed to be loosed in our life. Whatever it may be, Jesus Christ is the victorious liberator! He tells in both the Old Testament and New Testaments that we are to take the burdens of our lives and roll them, to cast them, to give them to Him. The Message says in 1 Peter 5:6-7~So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. (MSG) Why not let God have the weight of your life today?



Lord & Messiah

In the life of a believer, there is a time when the Lord births a desire to grow Closer. Mind you this is not a one-time occurrence. No, the Lord invites us to draw near and learn, to grow spiritually as we mature in our faith. Many of you probably grew up singing, “Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be…” As we arrive at Matthew 12, Jesus Christ is confronted by Sabbatarians, who desire to lay burden not relief, as Christ reminds us serving the Lord is not work, rather an act of worship. 

Messiah’s intrigue has brought mixed emotions to the promised land. Some willingly leap in faith, clinging to Christ, while others who portray civility rejected Him, malfeasance hatched in schemes of subterfuge. Matthew 12:14~But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. (ESV) Their railing accusations all the more diabolical, as the search for an opportunity to set their evil in motion. Our Lord’s response to their raging protest and allegations reveals at least two actions required for us to draw Closer: Submit, Scrutinize.

Let’s begin by looking at how we submit to the Holy Spirit (Matthew      12:22-32) Now the Holy Spirit prompts us to follow after Jesus Christ. He says to us, here is evidence, follow the Way of Christ. As we follow we participate in doing good. In our pericope, we find that Ole Someone has returned. Ever had someone show up, lay an incident at your feet and force a response. Someone does just that to our Lord, only this incident is a person in need. An individual held bound under Satan’s power. He has been led in captivity his whole life. Eyes blind to the things of God, and dumb to the throne of grace; he sees nothing, says nothing, for Satan, has blinded the eyes of faith and sealed up the lips of prayer. Thus when Christ Jesus heals the man, he is able to see and speak. 

The crowd gawks, ogling the miraculous spectacle. Matthew 12:23~And all the people were amazed, and said, Can this be the Son of David? (ESV) Now the title Son of David is like saying this is the Messiah. Yet many gathered, are confused, for Messiah is to be a king, serving as a priest, who prophesies. Yet, Jesus was born in an everyman condition, so everyone would be able to relate to Him. Jesus simply does not fit the mold of many people’s minds. He is simply not, what they were expecting. 

As you reflect today on your relationship with the Lord? Perhaps you thought that life would have in some way, been different. This may mean that you thought Jesus was one thing when in fact He is someone different. I want to encourage you that Christ is the greatest gift we could ever receive from God. And His one true desire is to help us invest our whole lives in an eternity long relationship. This means from time to time we must lay aside our thought of God and His plan for our lives and the journey we are on and allow Him to reshape us. This is what He does for Jeremiah in Jeremiah 18:2~Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message. (NIV) Take some time this week and allow God to remake your mind, life, even the image you have of Him. And remember, you are the joy set before Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2)



Boldly

Where will you take the Gospel today? (Matthew 12:15-21) We are told, yea, even commanded to take the Gospel out into our to our lost and hurting world. As we take the Gospel and share its power, what we discover is that we are affirming our commitment to God. Christ Jesus came to share the Gospel with people, knowing that He would pay the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. He was fully aware of the Pharisee’s plans to lay hold of Him and kill Him. Not even halfway through the Gospel of Matthew and they are already plotting to do just that here in Matthew 12. So, Jesus leaves the area and many people follow Him. Moved with compassion He heals the sick as He warns them to keep it to themselves. Jesus is not seeking fame and doesn’t want to be known only as a worker of wonders. What He wants is to stay on God’s timetable. We often forget that God is seldom early, never late, but always on time. One of the things the life of Christ reveals is how Jesus walks in step with the Father’s timing. 

Matthew records His fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah in Isaiah 42:1-4. Matthew 12:18~Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. (ESV) Matthew 12:19~He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; (ESV).

Matthew shares how God has appointed Jesus to walk in the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who empowers Jesus to perform miracles. (John 3:2) Taking time, Christ Jesus proclaims justice to the Gentiles also. Saying what God desires is for all people to come and have a personal relationship. John 4, shares how Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well, He is the Messiah, and she receives Him in faith. (John 4:7-30) Listen to what she then does in John 4:39~Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, He told me everything I ever did.” (NIV) Still drawing from Isaiah’s portrayal of the Messiah, Jesus wastes no time fussing or carrying on, He is about His Father’s business. Our role is not to stir-up controversy, to fuss and carry on with others. We are to simply tell people about Jesus and allow the Holy Father to draw them. John 6:44~No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. (NIV) The Father draws, the Holy Spirit convicts and Jesus saves. 

This is why Christ Jesus came to earth. 1 Timothy 1:15~Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. (NIV) Matthew is foreshadowing what lies ahead for Jesus. Matthew 12:20~a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; (ESV) This means Jesus will help the weak and the helpless, as well as those of little faith. I have found myself in each of those three conditions. Weak, helpless, and at times crying out like the father in Mark 9:24~…I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! (NV) Jesus stands in clear contrast to the legalism, cruelty, and abandonment of the spiritual leaders of His day. Jesus stood for victory.

When he came out of the grave, when He again revealed, when He ascended to the Father, while He makes intercession for us, Jesus is sharing His victory. And one day real soon Messiah’s justice will prevail, despite heathen, unrepentant sinners, Jesus is the victorious King. When Jesus takes His place as King of kings and Lords of lords at the end of the age, it will be the final fulfillment of Amos 5:24~”But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (NIV)

Who will you tell, about Jesus, today? When Jesus finishes His quote from Isaiah here in Matthew 12:21, He tells us go tell the Gentiles. The world Gentiles can literally be rendered, nations. Our Lord’s final words on earth before amending to heaven in Mark 16:15~Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (NIV) Again I ask, to whom will you tell, about Jesus?