Some weeks ago I was teaching in a Wednesday morning Bible study from Matthew chapter nine. As the group discussed verses 32-34 the Lord revealed something to me that has weighed heavy on my heart since that time. The verses state, And as they were going out, behold, a dumb man, demon-possessed, was brought to Him. And after the demon was cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the multitudes marveled, saying, “Nothing like this was ever seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees were saying, “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”
Now if you’re a Christian you probably have read and/or heard sermons on this passage that deal with the power of Christ to heal physical infirmities and cast out demons; or possibly the marvel of seeing something that had never been seen before; and maybe even the bitterness of the Pharisees in making false and unfounded allegations. You may have read these verses and wished that you could have lived in those days to see Jesus’ miracles during His earthly ministry. You probably have thought to yourself if you had lived back then you certainly would not have had the bitter and blind attitude of the Pharisees toward Jesus. Admittedly these are the things that I have heard and thought over the years growing up in the church culture. I will even take it a step further and mention that as a pastor I have challenged the church many times to see itself in the character of the Pharisees seeking to shed light on much of the legalism and loveless religion of our day. I suppose all of this is acceptable as far as it goes, but the Lord laid the weight of verse 34 on my heart in a fresh way that day, and it has spurred much self-reflection in my life.
As I read those words again, But the Pharisees were saying, “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”, after who knows how many times before, I immediately asked – how could they say this? Then in an overlapping thought I also asked – do I act like this? And at that moment the startling revelation came to me as I realized with a clarity that was almost too vivid to endure, I am a recovering Pharisee. Now, I still have not worked out all the implications of this statement, but I plan to flesh them out here on my blog as I continue to pursue the path of righteousness.
For now I encourage you to read Matthew 9:34 and ask – do I act like that?