Summary: When we listen to and obey our Lord Jesus we are received into a new spiritual family.
THE NEED FOR SPIRITUAL CHANGE
The spiritual blindness of the people opposed to Jesus is demonstrated in their reaction to His good works. Their refusal to hear His message is echoed in their speaking out against Him.
A demon-possessed man, who was physically both blind and dumb, was brought to Jesus: and He healed him. The positive impression which our Lord was making upon the ordinary people of Israel was growing, as was the negative reaction of the religious leaders.
Early in the ministry of Jesus, people were wondering, “What is this? He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him” (Mark 1:27).
The multitudes who followed Jesus declared, “It was never seen like this in Israel!” To which the Pharisees replied with the ridiculous proposition that, “He casts out demons by the ruler of demons” (Matthew 9:33-34).
Now the people were beginning to question, “Could this be the Son of David?” To which the Pharisees retorted, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons” (Matthew 12:23-24). The name Beelzebub translates, Master of flies.
In accusing Jesus, the Pharisees were in fact condemning themselves. They did not doubt that a miracle had truly happened, that the demons were cast out. But by calling the work of God by the name of the work of the devil, they were blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
Jesus explained that Satan would not destroy his own kingdom. This was the Spirit of God at work amongst them. The kingdom of God had come to them, yet they could not recognise it because it challenged their own authority.
Jesus had come to bind Satan before destroying the evil one’s hold upon the kingdoms of the world. And whoever is not in favour of Jesus is His enemy!
It is in this context that Jesus speaks of the unpardonable sin. All manner of blasphemy might be forgiven, but to attribute the work of God to Satan is unpardonable. Can good fruit come from a bad tree? Their very words condemned them!
In their continuing malice against Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees next asked for a sign. (Interestingly, the word which the Apostle John chooses to use for the miracles in his Gospel is the word for signs.) What had the religious leaders just seen if not a sign, both of Jesus’ authority, and of the presence of the kingdom of God amongst them?
Jesus granted them a sign. It was the sign of the prophet Jonah. Just as Jonah was three days in the belly of the whale, so Jesus would be three days dead in a tomb. Just as Jonah came out of the belly of the whale alive, Jesus would rise from the dead. The tomb could not hold Him, and death would lose its sting.
Continuing to relate the history of Jonah, theirs would be a sign of judgment. The men of Nineveh who had repented at the preaching of Jonah would rise up in judgment against them, because the scribes and Pharisees refused the preaching of one greater than Jonah.
Likewise, the Queen of the South testified against the perversity of their unbelief. She had travelled many dangerous miles to hear the wisdom of Solomon, yet now a greater than Solomon was here in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.