September 24, 2013

Scripture and Commentary Wednesday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 21, 28, 1 Kings 12:25, 2 Thes. 2:1-12
Evening – Psalm29, 30, Job 5:8-18, Mt. 12:31

Commentary, Matthew 12:31-50

Christ’s words about the unforgivable sin have been the subject of discussion and question since He uttered them on the shores of Galilee over 2, 000 years ago.  Naturally, many have take pen or pulpit to expound upon the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Mt. 12:31).  Irenaeus (130-202) Bishop of Lyons, said it means to destroy the form of the Gospel, meaning to preach or believe in justification and forgiveness of sins in some way other than that taught in Scripture.  The Didache, written near the turn of the second century, said it is to teach another Gospel.  Archbishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom (347-407) said it was the denial of what the Pharisee knew to be the work of the Holy Spirit.  Bishop J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) agrees, adding, “The brighter the light, the greater the guilt of him who rejects it.  The clearer a man’s knowledge of the nature of the Gospel, the greater his sin if he willfully refuses to repent and believe.”
It is important that each of the writers cited notes that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost has something to do with the Pharisees words against Jesus.  They said He received His power from the prince of devils, and hint that He used that power to deceive people.  In short, they were saying Jesus was not who He claimed to be, and that He and His works were evil, of the devil.  This required the Pharisees to account as false the clear testimony that Christ was God and was doing the work of God.  The Holy Spirit is the agency by which God speaks to the soul of man, and reveals the truth about Christ and the way of forgiveness.  Thus, to reject Christ is to reject the testimony and work of the Spirit.  It is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Unmoved, the Pharisees ask for a sign (12:38).  They had already seen many, for untold numbers of people have been healed, and the Gospel has been proclaimed.  If this was enough of a sign for John the Baptist, who would give his very life for Christ, it was enough of a sign for the Pharisees.  But they wanted more, probably something like turning stones into bread or jumping unharmed into gathered crowds from the pinnacle of the Temple.  But Jesus says they will only have the sign of Jonah.  His three days in the fish symbolise Christ’s three days in the grave.  Jonah’s emergence from the fish is a symbol of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  The Pharisees would do well to remember this after Christ is raised.  It would make sense to them then.  But they ignored it.

In the midst of this confrontation, Mary and some of her children came and requested to speak with Jesus.  The message came to Him as “thy mother and thy brethren stand without desiring to speak with thee.”  Jesus indicated the disciples and said, “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  The family of Christ is not built upon human familial relations.  It is based upon faith in Christ.

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