Friday, March 25, 2011

Matthew 12:27-32


Jesus casts out demons and he gets accused of being on the devil’s side?

What is with that?

Jesus quickly points out to his accusers that this is a silly idea. Jesus essentially says that he has bound up the strongman: Satan. He has done this by prevailing over the temptation he faced in the desert. Satan threw everything at Jesus but he resisted. We see from this passage that Jesus was engaged in a battle with the powers of darkness. This was a battle in which Jesus was ultimately victorious – even death could not defeat him.

It is in this that we have hope. It is in this that we know that sin and death doesn’t have the final say in our lives.

This story reminds me of those cheesy cartoon scenes where there is a little devil with a pitchfork on one shoulder and a little angel wielding a harp on the other shoulder and they are competing for attention and influence. Even though the imagery is cheesy there is truth in the fact that in our own lives there is a real ongoing battle of influence. Satan would have us worship ourselves. Satan would have us comfortably living in our own sin. Jesus on the other hand calls us out of sin and desires that we love God and love our neighbour and that we allow him to transform us and make us new by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The next part of this verse is kind of confusing. Many of us have read this and really worried about it. “Have I committed the unforgivable sin?” we may ask. What does it mean to blaspheme the Spirit?

Tom Wright gives a helpful illustration. He says this:

“ It isn’t that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (v31) is a peculiarly bad sin which God will punish in a specially harsh way. It is simply that if I deny the existence of the train that is coming into the station, or declare that it has been sent to deceive me and take me in the wrong direction, I am automatically stopping myself from getting on it. The Spirit was at work through Jesus, to launch God’s kingdom; but if someone looked at what was happening and ascribed it to the devil, they could not possibly benefit from it.”

(Excerpt from Tom Wright, Lent For Everyone: Matthew, Year A. London: SPCK, 2011, 46-47.)

So this Lent, may we allow ourselves to be swept up in what God is doing in this world. May we turn away from sin and call on the one who alone can deliver us from evil.

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