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Matthew 12:14-37

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The Gap between Kingdoms

Spearheading the growing opposition is the Pharisees. These men banded together with the Sadducees when they realized Jesus’ kingdom living was very different from the kingdom they had set up for themselves as rulers over Israel. Israel’s lifestyle was led by Pharisees who were very legalistic in following the oral law. They were deeply concerned about themselves and the appearance of being righteous, so they had separated themselves and yearned for the kingdom of God. Paul even described them as ‘being zealous for God, but their zeal was not based in knowledge’. In their attempt to find righteousness through legalism, they missed the Old Testament’s message of righteousness through faith. They became so committed to their own notions of what God’s will must be that when Jesus appeared they refused to listen.
Can you sympathize with these men? Some of us at some point have had an honest concern for the things of God, without real understanding. But, Jesus calls us to abandon our preconceived notions so that we can rebuild our lives on Him and learn His kingdom lifestyle.
#1 How did Jesus respond to the attack of the Pharisees?
When the disciples were picking grains Jesus reminded the Pharisees that they were guiltless in that situation because they acted only to meet real need. Jesus had pointed out that even God’s laws are not intended to be rigid but are to provide a framework to express love.
In today’s reading the Pharisees rejected the evidence of Jesus’ miracles and even claimed that Satan’s power was behind them. They blatantly blasphemed God’s very Son and the very power of the Spirit of God. By saying Satan was behind the healings they were acknowledging that their was supernatural powers at work, and secondly they were heartily rejecting Jesus himself.
#2 Why is this considered an unforgivable sin?
Verses 34-35 are key to understanding that the Pharisees were speaking and carelessly exposed the true condition of their hearts. These men were always careful about appearing pious and righteous but in criticizing their bitterness and lack of compassion was evident and undisguised.
#3 The Pharisees separated themselves and disguised themselves in robes of religion. Do you think that we too can clothe ourselves in robes of religion?
We can be separated from all sorts of cultural things that we call “sin” but when our reactions and our words reveal a “Pharisee - like” attitude for people whom God loves our own ungodliness can be revealed.
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