Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth Speaks

(Matthew 12:33-37)

Jesus makes an interesting point in this section, and it is rather at odds with some modern thinking. Here he says, “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.” (Vs. 33) The point he is making is that people are either good or bad and you will know them by what they do.

Whatever comes out of a person defines who they are. As he said elsewhere, “…not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Matthew 15:11) In this case he was using the traditions of the Pharisees concerning the washing of hands before eating. We know there are hygiene issues today, but the Pharisees were teaching this as a doctrine and making it of greater importance than the law of God. Jesus
showed their folly and error and in his teaching made the above point. What goes into the mouth is food and it goes to the stomach and passes on. But what comes out of the mouth are the thoughts of men expressed as words and if
these are evil, that is what defiles the man. Eating with unclean hands might make you unwell, but speaking evil will cost you your life into eternity.

The words we speak and what we do are controlled by our thoughts and the passions of our flesh. These are the fruits of our minds. Thus a person who does evil bears evil fruits and a person who does good bears good fruit in the
words, deeds and behaviour. The point Jesus was making is that it is not possible for an evil person to bear good fruit and vice versa. He stated as much in the section about being aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. (Matthew 7:15-20) In that passage Jesus also made the point that, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:20) It is by this method we are to test for false teachers and prophets.

So if the abundance of the heart of a person is fundamentally evil, that is what will come out of them in words, deeds and behaviour. They may be able to act for a time and masquerade as being good, but in time the truth will come
out and they will be seen for what they truly are.

This position is different to much modern thinking. Today we see teachings from eastern religions about the “Yin and Yang.” This teaching says that in everything good there is some evil and in everything evil there is some good.
That is not what Jesus taught. Jesus shows that we are either one or the other. There are no halfway or part way positions. “Either make the tree good and it’s fruit goof or make the tree bad and its fruit bad.” (Vs. 33) Yin and Yang teachings are positions of compromise, but the word of God is not compromised.

If we accept compromise, how much should we accept before we are totally compromised? Jesus taught about this matter too saying, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but
if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23) What he was saying here is that if we take in evil and accept it into our thinking we will be compromised. And if the light of knowledge in us is compromised by some darkness of un-truth or lies, how dark is our understanding and where will it end? The answer is to reject all evil and not seek out the darkness but to seek the knowledge of the truth that comes from Jesus Christ and God alone.

There is a fearful prospect of judgment in this section too, for Jesus shows we will render account for every careless word we utter. If such is the case we must learn to bite our tongues and mind what we say. As James wrote, “Let
every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19) Good advice if we are to avoid this judgment of all that we say.

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The Unforgivable Sin

(Matthew 12:29-32)

There are many wrong things a person might do which the Lord will forgive them for when they turn to him in repentance. However there is only one thing that the Lord ever said would not be forgiven. We see it here in vs. 31-32 where he says, “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says 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.”

Jesus and the Father are prepared to forgive men of virtually anything they might do, even if they blaspheme Jesus who is the Son of God. But they will not forgive any person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit. Let us look at this in some more detail.

What is blasphemy? There are numerous dictionary definitions that include: to speak impiously, use profane words, revile, and curse. In short it is to call something evil when it is good. As regards blasphemy of the Holy Spirit it is to say that the good works and actions of the Holy Spirit are demonic or of the devil. We saw in the section just leading up to this that the Pharisees had said that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Satan. This is exactly what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is. Jesus was casting out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit and these Pharisees said he was using satanic power. They had committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit Jesus was warning the people of the seriousness of this sin.

Why is it that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven when Jesus said if a man blasphemed Jesus they would be forgiven? To understand that we need to understand something about whom the Holy Spirit is, and more importantly, what the role of the Holy Spirit is in the New Covenant.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher, comforter, counsellor and guide to bring us to the Lord. (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:7-15) The work of the Holy Spirit is to transform us from our evil ways and nature into the image of the Son of God. This is accomplished by the spirit who changes us gradually from one degree of glory to another as it says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Now we saw that the Holy Spirit was first received by the disciples at Pentecost in Acts 2:2-4 like this, “And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” So the Holy Spirit is received and enters a man to dwell within him and work with him individually.

Jesus spoke of this indwelling of the Holy Spirit too, “…even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:17) Paul also wrote of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in several places, saying in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” He also warned Timothy to, “…guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” (2 Timothy 1:14) And he also wrote of the indwelling spirit in Romans 8:9-11.

Now why is this matter of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in man significant in relation to the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Consider the nature of man for a moment. We know that there is nothing good dwelling in man’s nature as Paul said in Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.” We may wish to do good but we often fail. The passions of a man are evil and we know that many people will do whatever they can get away with. This is not God’s nature. The nature of man is described by Paul as, “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

We know that the Holy Spirit is holy and given to us individually as a gift from God. And we know also that, “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29) So when God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit he does not take it back.

But we see also that, “… the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.” (Galatians 5:17) And again, “…the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8) So knowing that our human passions and desires are opposed to the desires of the Holy Spirit, how awful a job is it for the Holy Spirit to have to do in us? We are being transformed into the nature of God, but until that state is achieved the Holy Spirit has to put up with all manner of unholiness, strife and evil passion in the human nature as he dwells within each individual.

This must be a terrible job for one who is holy. To have to put up with all manner of evil in man while he works to change man into the nature of God must be the most difficult task ever given to anyone. It is for this reason that I believe that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only unforgivable sin. It is just retribution for the filth and rubbish that the Holy Spirit has to put up with as he dwells within us to do the work of change. And praise God that he is prepared to do this horrible and awful task for it is for our benefit and we should thank the Lord daily for his compassion and be mindful of the Holy Spirit as we live our lives.

A Divided Kingdom will not Stand

(Matthew 12:22-28)

The Pharisees continued to grow more jealous, envious and hostile toward Jesus. Their criticism of the work he was doing was evil and wrong. They could find no real fault with his message and so they made things up. They spoke lies to a depth of evil that was unimaginable considering the good works Jesus was doing. In response Jesus showed wisdom and knowledge, proving them to be foolish and liars in their opposition to him.

In this section we see Jesus cast the evil spirit from a blind and dumb demoniac. The man was healed and all who saw it were amazed. The people knew there was a Messiah to come who would be the Son of David, and they began to wonder aloud whether Jesus could be the Messiah. Jesus indeed was the Messiah and his works and the message he proclaimed testified to this fact. In addition, Matthew’s account of the Lord’s time on earth showed that all of the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus.

The Pharisees also knew the Messiah was to come. Their expectation was he would come to rule as a great king, which was also prophesied and will occur after the second coming when Jesus will rule as king. And this was how the Pharisees expected him to appear when he came the first time; to come in great power and glory, not as a lowly son of a carpenter and a man of the common people with a message of salvation to proclaim. They also expected that as the keepers of the law and the temple worship they would be exulted by the Messiah when he came.

Regardless of the works he did and the message of freedom and salvation that he preached, they rejected Jesus as the Messiah. This too was spoken of in the prophets, “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. But when they tried to arrest him, they feared the multitudes, because they held him to be a prophet.” (Matthew 22:42-46)

Jesus showed them they were the builders who rejected the stone (Jesus) that became the head of the corner. Every house of brick that is built is begun from one corner of the house. That first brick or stone that is laid is the most important of all. If that stone is laid wrong, then every brick after it will be wrong, for that stone determines the position of the house and locks in the position of every other stone that follows. When the Pharisees rejected Jesus, he became the foundation stone of a new house, the New Covenant. This house is not built on law and temple worship but is built on salvation, faith, justice and freedom from sin. It is certainly a much better house than the old house administered by the Pharisees, but they were not prepared to “move house.” And instead they attacked the builder of the new house, Jesus.

They could not attack his teaching and his message, so the Pharisees attacked the wonderful works he was doing. To try to undermine him they accused him of casting out demons by the prince of demons, Be-el’zebul, who is the devil or Satan. Jesus immediately rejected and refuted their position, knowing the evil of their thoughts. He said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand; and if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:25-26) Common sense tells us that a divided kingdom cannot stand. In team sports it is critical that the team play as a unit, each doing their part to help the team win the game. But if the team is divided and selfish and not working together as a cohesive unit, they will lose every game. Likewise in the business world or the political arena today we often see division amongst the leaders. It is disruptive and destructive to that business or government when this occurs, leading to all manner of issues and problems for the people. And they then lose control of their kingdoms because they cannot stand as shareholders sell off their shares and governments are ousted from power.

So when the Pharisees said that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Satan, he sharply rebuked them. Jesus pointed out that if they thought he were doing this by the power of Satan, then by whom were their sons casting out demons? They could not say that their sons were operating in the power of God but Jesus by the power of the devil when both parties were working to the same end. The actions of their own exorcist sons was judgement against the wrong thinking and evil thoughts of the Pharisees in this matter.

Finally Jesus said that if it was actually by the Spirit of God that he was casting out demons, as they would have agreed their own sons did, they were witnessing not some act of the devil, but the expression and working of the Kingdom of God. If that was the case, then perhaps they ought to listen to what he said and give God the glory for the wondrous works that were being done in the name of God by Jesus.

Where there is Life there is Hope

(Matthew 12:15-21)

Jesus left the area knowing that the Pharisees were taking counsel and conspiring how to destroy him. But still his fame and reputation grew, for the people came to him and all who were sick and infirm he healed.

However he was not seeking fame or notoriety, for in all cases he ordered the people not to make him known. This was not merely a case of self-preservation, knowing the malice of the scribes and Pharisees, but it was his nature. It was also that the prophecies about him would be fulfilled.

In vs. 19 we see, “He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will any one hear his voice in the streets.” In this we see that he was not trying to be seen to be someone of importance, even though Jesus was the single most important person to ever walk on the earth. He was after all the Son of God. Instead though we see that he didn’t blow his own trumpet. He did not try to market himself as people do today, nor did he self-promote in any way at all. Instead his words and deeds spoke for him. As Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:25, “So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.”

Jesus also came to level the playing field so that all men would have access to God. Prior to his coming, Israel was the chosen people of God. They received the law and had the prophets and to them were given the promises of the Lord. But in the New Covenant we see that the door was opened for the Gentiles as well so that everyone has access to life. We see in vs. 18, “I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles,” and again in vs. 21, “and in his name will the Gentiles hope.” So it is in Christ that the reconciliation of all men to God has been achieved.

Paul wrote about this reconciliation of the Gentiles and the Israelites in this way, “…remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:12-14) And God has reconciled us to himself through Christ (Ephesians 2:16) and also given us the ministry of reconciliation to preach to the world, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

So now we see that all men regardless of race or genealogy are equals in Christ. We are all on the same level and all can approach the throne of God through Jesus Christ. There is no longer any distinction, we are all now the same. Once we were sinners but have now been set free from our sins in Christ Jesus through faith in his resurrection and the power of God. Romans 10:12-13 shows this saying, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, “every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” We may not all have been children of Israel in the flesh and able to receive the promises of God, but we can all become children of the spiritual Israel in Christ and thus become children of God.

Finally we see that Jesus is gentle. In Matthew 12:20 it says, “…he will not break a bruised reed or quench a smouldering wick, till he brings justice to victory.” By this he is saying that where there is life there is hope. If a person is bruised or suffering, he does not reject or ignore them, nor break them like a plant bruised and ready to be uprooted. Instead he offers help, care, healing and support to try to restore and strengthen. Where there is even a glimmer of light in a person, like a smouldering wick, he does not extinguish the light, but instead hopes that it will be fanned and become fully alight. If there is any chance that a person will come to him for reconciliation to God, he offers full opportunity to do so. No one is rejected, no one is left out who seeks or shows even the slightest desire to come to him.

A good example of this we see in the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. We see that when the prodigal son finally came to his senses and returned to his father broken and repentant, the father did not wait for him, but seeing him in the distance he ran to meet him. Jesus is the same. If we begin to approach him, even from a distance he will meet us on the way to help and guide us. Where there is life there is hope and our hope is in Jesus Christ and the redeeming power of his word.

Self Righteousness and Healing on the Sabbath

(Matthew 12:9-14)

By this time the Pharisees were seeking opportunity to condemn and destroy
Jesus. They were jealous of him and afraid of his power, for all the people
were following this new teaching and the Pharisees were losing their
authority and position over the people.

The problem the Pharisees had was they could find nothing on which to accuse
Jesus and prove him wrong. Here we see them ask him, “Is it lawful to heal
on the Sabbath?” (Vs. 10) They considered healing to be a form of work and
on the Sabbath no man was supposed to work. But they could not fault the
answer Jesus gave them. He said that if any of them had a sheep and it fell
in a pit on a Sabbath, would they not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of
course they would, for if they were to leave it in the pit until the Sabbath
ended, the sheep may die. To a man they would have removed the sheep from a
pit rather than see it harmed. And as Jesus pointed out, a man is of much
greater worth than a sheep.

Jesus showed that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. In the same way
that the Pharisees would not have allowed a sheep to suffer on the Sabbath,
why would they consider it a sin to allow a person with an infirmity or
sickness to be healed on the Sabbath? They were splitting hairs and being
contentious for the sake of their own evil ends. After Jesus had healed the
man the Pharisees went and took counsel how to destroy him.

The New Covenant came into being so that we could be set free from the law
of sin and death and have life. As Paul wrote, “For the law of the Spirit of
life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans
8:1) Paul also showed us that, “Christ is the end of the law, that everyone
who has faith may be justified.” (Romans 10:4) But the Pharisees were not
able to see the righteousness that came from God. Instead they were seeking
to establish a form of self-righteousness based on keeping the letter of the
law. Paul showed the folly of such an approach in Romans 10:3, “For, being
ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish
their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”

Jesus was showing this same point to the Pharisees when he healed the sick
on the Sabbath. He said to the Pharisees earlier, “I desire mercy, and not
sacrifice,” (Matthew 12:7), but the Pharisees did not understand him. In
healing the sick he was showing mercy to the sick people. The Pharisees
would have made it hard for the man causing him to wait for another day to
be healed. They would have preferred he showed “sacrifice” by waiting in
pain for the sake of the law. They were legalistic to the extreme and could
not see that what God sought was for man to be merciful to his fellow man.

Jesus showed in another section the degree to which the Pharisees went and
failed in their self-righteous approach. In Matthew 23:23-24 we see these
words:

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and
dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law,
justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without
neglecting the others.
24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

The Pharisees and scribes went to extreme lengths to tithe tiny amounts of
their produce, even down to herbs grown possibly in a window garden or a
pot. But then, as we saw with the man with the withered hand, they neglect
the more important aspects of the law, justice, mercy and faith. Jesus then
shows us a comparison of how foolish they were.

Jesus compared tithing to a gnat, which is one of the smallest insects
known. If we had a drink and swallowed the gnat most people would not even
notice because gnats are so small. If a fly fell in most people would throw
out the drink and get another, or if they swallowed it would gag and cough.
This shows how small a gnat is in comparison to even a fly. But Jesus says
that the failure of the Pharisees was as if a camel fell in their drink and
they continued drinking and swallowed it.

Now a camel compared to a gnat is a huge comparison. A camel stands taller
than a full-grown man and can weigh up to 700 kg (1540 pounds). A gnat on
the other hand is so light you would not even feel it on you. In this
analogy, Jesus showed the difference in the importance of tithing as
compared to mercy, justice and faith. Tithing is insignificant compared to
these other matters. And yet the Pharisees thought that by their tithing
they were doing God’s will. This same issue rages still today with some
churches promoting the importance of tithing over many other matters of the
truth.

But self-righteousness through works of the law, which is the path the
Pharisees were following in their tithing, is no righteousness at all. The
only true righteousness that exists is given by God through faith in Jesus
Christ. To walk in God’s righteousness means to follow Jesus’ example. Do
good and show mercy when it is warranted, as he did to the sick man who was
healed on the Sabbath, for Jesus also showed, “The sabbath was made for man,
not man for the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

(Matthew 12:1-8)

At the end of chapter 11 we saw Jesus state that his “yoke was easy and his burden light.” (Matthew 11:30) Now we see him begin to teach things that have reduced that burden of the Old Covenant.

Under the Old Covenant men were required to keep the Sabbath day holy. This was one of the Ten Commandments. On the Sabbath they were not to travel, nor work, nor prepare food. All food preparation was to be done the day before so they could rest and worship the Lord on the Sabbath day.

Now as Jesus and his disciples walked through some grain fields, the disciples plucked some of the grain and began to eat it. The Pharisees, who were sticklers for the smallest points of law took any opportunity to find fault and brought this to Jesus’ attention saying, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” (Vs. 2) The Pharisees expected Jesus would upbraid and condemn his disciples for breaking the law, but instead Jesus responded by showing other instances of where men did what was unlawful and yet were not condemned. David the king entered the temple and took the bread of the Presence, which no one but the priests were allowed to eat, and ate and gave it to those with him and yet he remained guiltless (1 Samuel 21-16). This was clearly a more significant issue than the disciples rubbing a few heads of grain to eat for the bread of the Presence was part of the offering and was consecrated as holy to the Lord. Then too Jesus said of the priests who offer the lamb and cereal sacrifices in the temple on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9-10), which technically is breaking the Sabbath, also remain guiltless.

Jesus then showed that this new teaching under the New Covenant was greater than the old teachings under the law. At the end of this section he says, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath.” (Verses 6-8)

Under the New Covenant those who come to Christ are guiltless for Jesus has taken away their sin. In the Old Covenant men had to seek forgiveness of sin by sacrifices and offerings, but the forgiveness in the New Covenant is not based on offering sacrifices. The one perfect sacrifice has already been offered and we have been set free from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice is the only one that can not merely give us forgiveness of sin, but completely remove and take our sin away. John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) This is why Jesus came to offer his own blood on our behalf. So that our sins would be taken away, not simply forgiven.

Expanding on this we see in Hebrews 10:5-6, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure.” God does not want constant offerings for sin. He wants us to not sin at all. He wants us to be merciful toward each other for our weaknesses and not judgmental over minor points of law, which is what the Pharisees were doing. In the constant sin offerings there was also the constant reminder of sin. But when Jesus took away our sins, he also took away the law so that we would not need to continue to make the offerings and would not be bound by sin.

This is too lengthy a subject to go into here, but if you wish to see more on this matter there is a free eBook on you can download here that looks at the Foundation Teachings of Christianity There is much more detail in this booklet covering this message about freedom from sin and freedom from the law through faith in Jesus Christ.

When we are set free from the law through Christ Jesus, we are also set free from the law concerning the Sabbath. This is why the disciples could be considered guiltless for the law applies only to those under the law. In Christ we are set free from the law and no longer under it and thus guiltless.

My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light

(Matthew 11:28-30)

This is a beautiful piece of scripture for in it we see the Lord reveal the essence of walking with him under the New Covenant.

Being a Christian and walking with the Lord is not a hard thing to do. Sure there may be hard times that need to be faced and issues dealt with, but it is not a hard thing to walk with Christ.

Walking in the New Covenant is a simple matter. It is not a complex set of rules and regulations, with intricate instructions, processes and methods of worship. It does not require special training and tools to walk with Christ. You do not need a degree in divinity or theology to understand the teachings of the New Covenant for as Jesus has said in this section, “…my burden is light.” (Vs. 30)

Jesus has not burdened his people or made it a hard and wearisome task to walk with him. Instead he has taken away all of the difficulties and obstacles to walking with God under the Old Covenant and stripped them down to a few bare principles. At its simplest form, to walk with the Lord all you need to do is to believe and have faith in Jesus Christ. You can sum up the minimum requirements of the Christian faith in the following few words. Jesus is the Son of God who came to this earth to die and set us free from sin and the law so that we could be transformed into the nature of God and live with him into eternity.

Yet even in these few words there is a depth of knowledge and understanding required that those who choose not to follow his path would never see. The revelation of the truth and the revealing of God is not something a man can understand by himself. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” and he has provided the means by which we can find these things out. He has given us a teacher, guide and counselor in the Holy Spirit to teach each and every one of us the depths of the New Covenant.

The Spirit reveals all things to us that we need to know. We do not have to transform ourselves, and in truth we can’t anyway, for no man knows or understands the nature of God. The Holy Spirit knows the nature of God for the spirit proceeds from God, as we see in John 15:26, “But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me.” The work and task of the Holy Spirit is to do the work of transformation in us. As it says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, we, “…are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” And in John 14:26 we see the teaching and guiding work of the Spirit, “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” And again in John 16:13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

So we see that with all of this power given to us from God to teach, guide and transform our lives, there is little for us to do other than to be receive God’s word and to accept Jesus as our Saviour through faith. The rest of the work is his and is being performed by the Holy Spirit. Our part in this process is to learn and apply the teachings as we are taught, and to have faith, trust and hope in Jesus Christ.

These are not burdensome things and thus as Jesus said, his yoke and burden are truly light and easy. The Apostle Paul showed best that this is Jesus’ work in Ephesians 2:10. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And as we are his workmanship and he is doing all the work, our load is light and easy.

The Revelation to the Babes in Christ

(Matthew 11:25-27)

When the Lord came to open up the word of the New Covenant, he intended for the message to be accessible and available to all mankind. The revelation of his word was such that any person would be able to understand it if they came to him seeking to understand.

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:3-6, “This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” In this Paul showed that there was to be no intermediary between man and God apart from Jesus. This was unlike under the Old Covenant where there was a priesthood selected only from the tribe of Levi and the high priests were to be of the blood lineage from Aaron.

Again it was shown that access to God was no longer the domain only of the high priest, for when Jesus died the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom indicating every man had access to the Holy of Holies through Jesus. (Hebrews 9:1-12) Prior to this only the high priest was permitted to enter into the Holy of Holies and then only once each year. But when Jesus came and died, he entered on our behalf and now sits at the right hand of God to mediate the New Covenant on our behalf directly with the Father.

So if there was to be no intermediary apart from Christ as high priest, and the job of the priests was to teach the people the requirements of the religion, then it was important that the teachings of the New Covenant be accessible to all. It was necessary that it be simple enough that everyone could understand the Covenant and the teachings that would lead to life. To that end, after Christ died he said we would receive the Holy Spirit to teach us all things as we see in John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Simplicity is the key and we see this in many places. The basis of the New Covenant and receiving God’s gifts is faith and through faith to come to know the love of God. The reason it was based on faith is so that every person would be able to receive it and every person would be equal. Everyone has the capacity to believe and this is the one great equaliser.

But some men tried to seek God through other means, such as knowledge, and they missed the mark. For it is written that “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1) So here in Matthew 11:25-27 we see Jesus extolling the fact that God has seen fit to open up his word of faith and love in the New Covenant to those who were not of great standing with regards to wisdom and knowledge of this world, but to babes in such matters. Paul noted this too saying in 1 Corinthians 1:18-21

“18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.”
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”

To those who seek knowledge and wisdom of this world the teachings of Christ are like foolishness because they are based on faith. They cannot begin to understand how it works or can work because they do not understand the wisdom of God and matters of the Spirit. But to those who accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, this same word is all-powerful and able to change a man’s life. And the Son of God reveals this to us when we are called and answer his call. He reveals to us all matters pertaining to life and the very nature of the Father, for the nature of God is love.

Miracles don’t Change the Heart of Non-Believers

(Matthew 11:20-24)

You would think that if miracles were performed in front of the eyes of people they would change. If you saw something totally amazing that could only have been done by the power of God, that you would listen to the one doing those things. Well man just doesn’t seem to be like that, as Jesus showed many times.

In this section of Matthew 11 we see Jesus upbraiding the towns and cities where he had performed many of the marvellous and mighty works God allowed him to do. In these cities and towns the sick were healed, lepers cleansed, demons exorcised, the dead raised and many other mighty works. While he did these he was preaching the word of God. But these cities on the whole did not turn around and repent and follow the truth. They were amazed at what was done, but not for the understanding of God’s word, but rather for the spectacle of the miracles. To them it was more like a show than a confirmation of the true Gospel of God, and a call to change their lives.

Jesus expected this to be the way things went anyway. He knew that some would follow but most would not, and he knew that even miracles would not turn people around. Jesus taught this in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. Lazarus lived on the street in utter squalor and with nothing at the gate of the rich man who lived in the lap of luxury. Lazarus though was a good man despite his afflictions, whereas the rich man was proud and arrogant. They both died and Lazarus went to Paradise to be comforted with Abraham, while the rich man went down into Hades to be tormented in hell. A conversation ensued between the rich man and Abraham with the rich man first pleading arrogantly for Abraham to send Lazarus with water to quench his thirst. He was still arrogant and proud, thinking that Lazarus was nothing more than a slave to do his bidding. When Abraham said no, the rich man pleaded that he would send Lazarus back to earth to warn the rich mans five brothers so they would not suffer. In verses 28-31 we see Abrahams response.

28 “…for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'”

When Jesus upbraided the cities and towns for their lack of repentance, it was this same situation as Abraham spoke of with the rich man. Abraham said, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.” The words of Moses and the prophets were the words of God. Similarly the words of Jesus are the words of God. Unless a person listens to and acts upon the words of God when they hear them, then no amount of people rising from the dead, miracles or mighty works will change their minds and bring them to repentance.

Miracles will confirm the truth of the word to believers. They confirm that what they believe in is the truth and this is from God. But non-believers will not believe even if they see miracles. Consider the miracle of Creation today. Non-believers are seeking “scientific” explanations for the Creation of the heavens and the universe. They are looking for “scientific” ways that man was created, let alone all of the animals, insects, plants, fish and so on. They do not believe that God created the world and everything in it, and everything was made in their species and according to their kind from the beginning. Instead man chooses to accept evolution and the gradual changing of species over countless generations and eons until we get to where we are today.

To be honest, I doubt the earth has been around long enough for this to even occur. Science estimates the earth at about 4.6 billion years old (Source: http://www.extremescience.com/zoom/index.php/geologic-earth-history). But how old is the beginning of life? Again science suggests the first single cell organisms appeared some 3 billion years ago and did not change for another 2 billion years. Then these cells became multi cell organisms and began the process of evolution starting around 1 billion years ago. So in the past billion years we went from single cell organisms to complex life forms and rational, reasoning, thinking man. Is it rational and reasonable to think that all of that could happen in one billion years? And where in the fossil records are all of the crossover species? For years science has tried to locate the crossover between apes and man, but what about the crossovers for every other species as they all evolved according to science? The fossil record should be littered with crossover species if evolution is to be believed, but there is not a single crossover to be found.

Why is that? Because they don’t exist! Science cannot believe the miracle of creation and yet chooses to accept the fairy stories of evolution and call it fact when even a non-scientist can see it cannot hold water. Even using scientific method to look at the fossil records, as they do, is positive proof of the absurdity of evolution. They cannot show the existence of a single crossover species when there should be millions of such species in the fossil record if evolution were true.

This is exactly what Jesus was speaking of when he said that even if they saw miracles they would not believe and repent. And it is for such lack of belief and repentance that he upbraided the towns of Chora’zin, Beth-sa’ida and Caper’na-um where he did his mighty works. From this we must learn to listen to the Lord, regardless of miracles, and repent so that we can find the truth for ourselves and follow him.

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Damned if you Do and Damned if you Don’t

(Matthew 11:16-19)

In this section Jesus showed that as a Christian sometimes you would never be able to please people. He had just been speaking about John the Baptist, commenting that among those born of women there was no one greater then John.

Now John was a rough and rustic sort of an individual. He wore clothes made of camel hair, ate only locusts and wild honey and drank only water. This was covered in my post yesterday, which may be worth a look if you have not already seen it. The people of the time falsely said of John, “He has a demon,” (vs. 18) for he came neither eating normal foods nor drinking wine. But when Jesus came we see he describes himself as one who came both eating and drinking. Still the people were not satisfied and found fault, for they falsely said of him, “Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” (Vs. 19)

It was clearly a case of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t. He compared that generation to children playing in a marketplace. When he said, “We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn,” (Vs. 17) he is showing that they were behaving like children. Sometimes you see children gathered together and some just will not play with others regardless of what they do. They try to do one thing and get no response, then try the opposite or something else with no response. This is what that generation of Jesus time were doing. Whether John or Jesus came and spoke to the religious people of the time, they would not go along to learn from them. Neither John who was somewhat eccentric by appearance, nor Jesus who was a man of the people, it made no difference for the religious leaders of the time rejected both of them.

Then at the end of the section Jesus makes an interesting statement about both himself and John. He says, “Wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Vs. 19) What a person does is an indicator of their wisdom. In the case of eating and drinking as Jesus was applying in this section to himself and John, wisdom would suggest that there are things different people should do and others not do. An alcoholic for instance should not drink. That is wisdom for them. A person with food allergies should not eat certain foods. That is wisdom for them. A person prone to anger or violence should not go into places and situations that will trigger these emotions. That is wisdom for them. And there are many other similar examples that could be given.

Wisdom is not some strange, unimaginable, ethereal, untouchable thing as often promoted in television and certain movies. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. It is about learning good things and then applying that knowledge in your life circumstance. Even the simplest person who applies the knowledge that they have to live a better, more peaceful life with less stress and tension is using wisdom. James showed that wisdom is about how you live your life when he wrote, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13) Solomon spoke of wisdom in the book of Proverbs many times saying to seek it like silver and to guard it as it would guard and protect you.

True wisdom comes down from God and it is greater than any wisdom of man, for again James wrote, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.” (James 3:17) If we seek him and follow in the ways of Jesus then we too may find the true wisdom of God. But we must also recognise that even if we do, others will judge us falsely as they did John the Baptist and Jesus, even though both were teaching the truth. There will always be opposition to the Lord and his people. Knowing this is wisdom too; as it gives you leave to move on where you are not welcomed rather than banging your head against a wall.