Weekly Devotional 12-12-22 For or Against
From the time that Jesus began declaring that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (see Matthew 4:12-17) the religious leaders of the Jews, namely the Pharisees and Sadducees, began taking note of Him and eventually began apposing Him. Because of His works (Signs a.k.a. Miracles) large crowds began following Him, listening to His message. His message was not unlike John the Baptist’ message. Both were calling Jews to repentance. As authentication of His message and ministry Jesus healed many that came into His presence and cast demons out of others. This led many to turn away from the authoritarianism of the Pharisees and Sadducees causing in them a fear of losing their hold on the populace. They were personally benefiting from subjecting the Jews to their interpretation of the law of Moses. As they began losing their sway over the people their animosity toward Jesus grew, even to the extent of wanting to kill Him. They continually sought avenues by which this could be accomplished, and the following passage gave them such an avenue, at least a basis by which they could begin that pursuit. We read from Matthew 12:1-30:
1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” 3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”–that they might accuse Him. 11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.
14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him. 15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. 16 Yet He warned them not to make Him known, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 18 “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He will declare justice to the Gentiles. 19 He will not quarrel nor cry out, Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
20 A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory; 21 And in His name Gentiles will trust.” 22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” 25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
Jesus faced His accusers head on telling them plainly that if they were not for Him, they were against Him. Not just against Him, but the kingdom He represented.
With this in mind I come to the point of this devotional. There have always been enemies of the kingdom of heaven and its representative(s). During Jesus’ ministry and for several years following there were the Pharisees and Sadducees. During the first and second centuries AD Rome opposed the kingdom of heaven declaring there was no other God but their Caesars. Rome, or governances like it, killed ten of the Lord’s apostles and
Christians down through these many centuries have been killed by people who have opposed the kingdom of heaven by one determination or another, including many who call themselves religionist. This is true of our own time. Searching out any government of the world today we find that humanism is their God. They worship at the door of self-acclaim, power, and or wealth. God and His kingdom are not recognized, or denied. Man has become his own god. Like the Pharisees and the Sadducees they stand against true God. Can we, in good conscience be for such persons? Are not we against God and His kingdom if we side with them? I think so.
Joshua, in his last challenge to Israel said: “14 Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).
As Christians we have a similar choice, we can either serve the one and only true God, or we can serve some false god, whatever or whoever that might be.
Transforming Power; the Work of God on Behalf of Man