Matthew 12:43-50 – Opposition to the Kingdom of God

John Carter – October 13, 2019

Introduction: Why this text important

This is the final section of Chapter 12. A chapter which highlights the opposition that Jesus faced in his earthly ministry. Ultimately opposition against Jesus resulted in his death. But here that opposition came from scribes, Pharisees, and even from his own family members. But all of these individuals had one thing in common. They were all opposing the will of God.

Goal/Purpose: The Main Point and the Response

It is those who do the will of the heavenly Father belong to the family of Jesus.

Exposition: What does the text teach? (Main Point)

When we first went through 12:22-32 I did not go into full detail about the demon being cast out in verse 29. At this time, we will go more in depth into the purpose and intent of what Jesus was saying. In verse 29 Jesus presents an idea to refute the Pharisees’ claim that Jesus was working in the power of Beelzebub; the prince of demons. He does this by pointing out on one hand the logical inconsistency that Satan would cast out his own demons. On the other hand he does this by pointing out that only a stronger man can cast out someone weaker. In other words, Jesus is stronger than the demons that he is casting out. But the strong man is not a man but an image of an unclean spirit (v.43)—or a demon.

After being cast out the unclean spirit will seek for a place to live. It appears that ultimately an unclean spirit will only find its rest in a human host. Without a person to indwell the demon is without rest. The unclean spirit is discontent without a home so it returns back to where it came from. Back to the house from which it was forcibly removed. And to its good fortune the house is available and in better shape than when it left. But even better, undefended. This time the unclean spirit won’t be over powered. This time the unclean spirit will find seven other unclean spirits. Seven is a number often associated with perfection in the Bible. So, whether there is a literal 8 unclean and evil spirits returning or whether this is a reference to a state of perfect wickedness the situation will clearly be worse at the end.

First, this situation is directly connected with ‘this generation’. The generation that Jesus is speaking to. But from what we have already discovered 11:20-24 this worsened state applies beyond the generation Jesus was speaking to. This worsened state also applies to any generation that hears that gospel, benefits from its grace and mercy, and nevertheless still rejects the gospel.

This is the difficult reality for any Christian. We learn of the life altering truth of the gospel. We see the Holy Spirit radically transform our lives and the lives of others. Then we proclaim this transforming truth to other. At first, we see people positively impacted by the gospel. But over time we begin to see two types of people who respond. Those who are truly changed by the gospel. And those who are superficially changed by the gospel. We see some who are radically change. But then we see those who are only around as long as the bread is hot and the bed is made. But once the walk with Christ becomes costly they fall away. And watching this hurts. It hurts even more than watching people reject the gospel from the beginning. At least when someone rejects the gospel form the beginning we know where they stand. But when we pour time, energy, love, and abundant resources into someone it is like a knife to the heart when they walk away. Captivated by the evil things of this world. The only thing that makes it worse is when they attack your kindness and generosity as the reason for their decision to abandon the faith.

VACUUM

There is no such thing as an eternal vacuum. Every space must be filled with something. We cannot live in an age without meaning and purpose and truth. Some worldview must fill that void. But as long as the gospel does not fill that void something worse will fill what was there before. This is the danger in presenting the gospel to those who may not receive it. This is also the danger in trying to ‘fix’ people without the gospel. It is not enough to send a man to counseling to deal with his demons—both literal and figurative. Without Christ coming into a person’s life a cleaned-up man who cares for himself is still susceptible to the effects and destruction of a worse fate than what plagued him before. Any effort to reform a sinner without a clear presentation of the gospel is a recipe for worse disaster.

SIN DEMONS AND THE FALL

  • Overemphasis on Sin will neglect the power of Satan and the effects of the fall
  • Overemphasis on Demons will neglect the power of Sin and the effects of the Fall
  • Overemphasis on the Fall will neglect the power of Sin and the power of Satan

Any solution that neglects man’s personal responsibility for being a sinner will ignore our need to repent and believe and take responsibility for our actions

Any solution that neglects Demons will ignore that we are fighting not against flesh and blood but against spiritual rulers and principalities.

Any solution that neglects the effects of the fall will misdiagnose a person’s physical ailment.

FAMILY

This wasn’t an average family gathering. This was an intervention. Jesus has finally gone too far. He has now demonstrated that he is crazy or possibly himself possessed. His family has come to gather him. It was that ominous, ‘we need to talk’.

[Textual issue]

Where did verse 47 go? – “But he said to him, “behold, your mother and your brothers outside having stood, seeking you to talk””

It appears to have been accidentally removed. But there is uncertainty. The next verse makes more sense if this verse is included. Without it one might ask what man did Jesus respond to in verse 48. But in the context of verse 47 Jesus is responding to the messenger who informed Jesus of the arrival of his mother and brothers.

(v.48)

The audacity of Jesus’ question could not be overstated. What fool would reject his own mother? What ignoramus would deny his own flesh and blood? Clearly Jesus knew that his mother and brothers did not understand what he was doing or even saying. But Jesus had no time for pleasantries and cultural customs. He had been sent by his Father to proclaim the kingdom and repentance. Following his family at this point would be obedient to his families wishes but in direct opposition to his heavenly Father. Which leads his to his next statement.

Not the crowds. Not those filling the house. But to his disciples Jesus pointed. Jesus knows those who are his and has no problem choosing sides. Jesus has already taught in Matthew 7 that he will make a distinction between those who belong and those who are outsiders. And he doesn’t just make a distinction between the obvious outsider and the obvious insider. More importantly Jesus makes a distinction between those who appear to be insiders and those who truly are insiders.

(Contra roman theology – high place of Mary and eternal virginity)

Jesus makes clear that Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus holds no special position in Christian theology like Roman Catholics teach. Mary is only important in the kingdom if she humbly obeys and does the will of our Father in the heavens—just like everyone else.

FAMILY

Excerpt (Mark Sermon 3:7-35; September 25, 2014)

Jesus’ work is not of Satan. And Jesus family is not of this world. Only those who are entrenched in the will of God find their familial ties in Jesus. The will of God is that the work of Satan is violently opposed. The scribes misdiagnosed what the work of Satan looks like. They didn’t know what the work of the Holy Spirit looks like either. And Jesus’ blood relatives sought to subtly subdue the work of the Spirit. Both groups of people were ultimately against what God had appointed Jesus to do and what God had sent the Spirit to accomplish. James Edward in his commentary on Marks says it like this, “to seek to avert Jesus from his mission is satanic.’  Any effort to slow or stop the work of Christ or the preaching of the Gospel— whether we are trying to save face or we disagree with the message or methods of Jesus –these efforts are demonic.

If we want to claim the privileges that are associated with being related to Christ then you and I must ask ourselves and respond to a very simple question: Are we doing the will of God? Are we being faithful to respond to the task that Christ has given us to repent and be forgiven, to preach the Gospel, and to make disciples? If we are not willing to live for Christ then there is no way we are willing to die for Christ. So, I beg you, put down your pride, put down your-self, and pick up your cross. Follow Christ and never look back. If we fail to receive and preach the Gospel with all blood earnestness then verifiably we are not his brothers. Verifiably we are not his sisters. Verifiably we are not his family. I urge each of you instead of participating in what is demonic –by denying the truth of the Gospel– participate in the Gospel and do the will of God.

Response: What does the text require?

            The are two important ways that we can apply this text  

  1. DISCIPLE THOSE YOU SHARE THE GOSPEL WITH

Gospel presentation without spirit filled discipleship with condemn a man, not save him. Never teach a man about Jesus and walk away. We must instead preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and then continue the work of Spirit filled discipleship.

Gospel presentation without spirit filled discipleship will condemn a man, not save him. Never teach a man about Jesus and walk away. We must instead preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and then continue the work of Spirit filled discipleship.

  1. DO THE WILL OF GOD

Roman 12:2 teaches us how to determine the will of God: test to see if it is good, pleasing/acceptable, and mature/perfect.

Conclusion: The Main Point Reiterated

So which are you? Are you simply an empty, swept, and put together house? Or are you an obedient-Father-pleasing-follower of Jesus Christ? Are you hanging around the church for the quick benefit? Are you standing around trying to keep Jesus in check? Or are you a deeply committed and obedient follower of Jesus Christ? You can play the piano, teach a Sunday School class, attend member meetings, quote the church covenant, sweep the floors, maintain the building, count the money, or even have the title pastor or deacon and still just be playing games with Jesus. To be clear, not even Mary, Jesus’ own Mother, gets a pass when it comes to obediently serving Jesus. So, if Jesus’ earthy mother bends here knee in humble obedience, then how much more those of us who have no genealogical relationship with the Son of Man? Jesus doesn’t care what you resume says or what name you drop. Jesus wants to know one thing. Have you done the will of his heavenly Father? Or have you simply felt the effects of being so close to the gospel message but have never actually believed and obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you truly a disciple of Jesus Christ? Or are you only an outsider looking in?