Setting

The opposition from the Pharisees and teachers of the law had been building up. The warnings from our Lord also grew more serious. He pointed out the gravity of the sin of blasphemy and warned the “evil and adulterous generation” of the coming judgment.

Key Verse

(12:28)

Did You Know...?

  1. Nineveh (12:41): A famous and ancient city situated on the eastern bank of the Tigris River opposite the modern city of Mosul. The Bible names Nimrod as the founder of Nineveh (Gen. 10:8-11). In 612 B.C. the ancient splendid city and capital of the Assyrian Empire was so completely obliterated, according to its prophesied decimation by Hebrew prophets, that it became like a myth until its discovery by Sir Austen Layard and others in the nineteenth century. [ref]
  2. Queen of the South (12:42): In 1Ki 10:1 she is called the queen of Sheba, a country in southwest Arabia, now called Yemen. [ref]

Outline

  • The Healing and the Reaction
    (12:22-24)
  • Jesus’ Reply
    (12:25-37)
  • The divided kingdom
    (12:25-28)
  • The strong man’s house
    (12:29)
  • Blasphemy against the Spirit
    (12:30-32)
  • Nature and fruit
    (12:33-37)
  • Sign and Judgment
    (12:38-42)
  • Return of the Evil Spirit
    (12:43-45)
  • Doing the Father’s Will
    (12:46-50)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    The themes of this passage are closely connected to the quotation of Isaiah’s prophecy in 18-21. See if you can establish the connection.

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    Isaiah’s prophecy mentioned that God would put His Spirit on Jesus. In 28 Jesus said that He drove out the demons by the Spirit of God. For this reason, blasphemy against the Spirit cannot be forgiven (32).
    Isaiah also prophesied that God would bring His justice to the Gentiles and that in His name the gentiles would trust. In 38-42, Jesus cited the examples of the Ninevites and the Queen of the South, both Gentiles, to warn the wicked generation. “He will not quarrel nor cry out” was also fulfilled in Jesus’ refusal to show His accusers a miraculous sign.

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Segment Analysis

  • 12:22-37

    1.

    Why did the Pharisees react to Jesus’ healing so differently from the crowd?

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    The Pharisees’ reaction stemmed from their evil hearts (34,35). Since out of their jealousy they had already been looking for ways to accuse Jesus, this was just another opportunity for them to slander Him. They were blind to the power and grace of God.

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  • 2.

    Explain in your own words the three defenses Jesus gave in answer to the accusations. a. Verses 25-26; b. Verse 27; c. Verse 29:

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    a. Verses 25-26: Jesus could not have cast out the demons by Beelzebub because Satan also knew the importance of unity and would not cast out members of his own kingdom.
    b. Verse 27: Pharisee’s “sons” might have referred to their disciples or the Jews in general. Some people during that time also tried to cast out demons (Acts 19:13). If Jesus’ great power came from the prince of demons, then by whose power did they cast out demons? If they claimed to cast out demons by God’s power, then on what basis could they accuse Jesus’ power as Satanic?
    c. Verse 27: It would take someone stronger than Satan to bind him and release those under his power. That someone is Jesus, who cast out Satan by God’s power.

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  • 3.

    What characterizes the kingdom of God according to 28?

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    God’s kingdom is marked by the power of God’s Spirit (1Cor 4:20). The forces of evil are absent in God’s kingdom. So the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus was a demonstration that He had come to establish God’s kingdom.

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  • 4a.

    How was the Pharisees’ accusation blasphemy against the Spirit?

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    They attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the evil spirit.

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  • 4b.

    Why is “blasphemy against the Spirit” a sin that cannot be forgiven?

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    If anyone slanders Jesus based on Jesus’ words alone, he could still repent and receive forgiveness. But if he remains callous and chooses to reject him even though he has seen the power of God’s Spirit through the works of Jesus, then there is no forgiveness (cf Heb 10:26).

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  • 12:22-37

    5.

    Fruit is to tree as _____________ is to ______________.

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  • 6.

    What did Jesus teach in this section about: a. His own power? b. The heart? c. Judgment?

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    a. His own power: It is greater than that of Satan’s and it manifests God’s kingdom.
    b. The heart: Our hearts determine what we do and say, whether good or bad.
    c. Judgment: We will have to give account to God for the words we speak, even those words that we think are insignificant. Our words will either justify or condemn us. Words are so important because they reveal what is in our hearts.

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  • 12:38-45

    7a.

    What were the scribes’ and Pharisee’s demanding from Jesus? What was wrong with their demand?

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    16:1 says that they were asking for a sign from heaven. They wanted Jesus to prove that He was from God. Their demand once again showed their unbelief. The Lord had already demonstrated His divine power in His works, but they still demanded more “proof.”

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  • 7b.

    In what ways do we sometimes make the same mistake?

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  • 12:38-45

    8.

    How was Jonah a sign?

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    God’s deliverance of Jonah from the belly of the fish was a sign that he was sent by God. In the same way, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus would be a sign that He was the Christ.

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  • 9.

    What lessons and warnings can we gather from the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South?

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    Although they were not of God’s chosen race, they responded to God’s call. Today, if we as confessed Christians do not make an effort to receive Jesus’ words like the Queen of the South and do not repent and change our ways like the men of Nineveh, these people will also rise up on the last day to judge us. Jesus is greater than Jonah and Solomon. If the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South responded to Jonah and Solomon, how much more should we respond to the word and works of the Lord Jesus in our lives!

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  • 10a.

    Explain the meaning and teaching about the demon-possessed man.

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    Jesus compared His generation to the demon-possessed man. Just as the man had been released of demon possession, the people of Jesus’ time had also experienced the great healing power of Christ. But if they did not accept the message of Jesus, their end would be much worse than the beginning. This truth also applies to anyone who has received God’s grace (Heb 6:4-8).

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  • 10b.

    What must we do after we have been “swept and put in order”?

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    God has delivered us from sin and made us whole. We have also experienced God’s grace and healing power. Now we need to accept the gospel message and respond to God’s word.

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  • 12:46-50

    11.

    Was Jesus denying His family relationships? Explain his response in verses 48-50.

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    Jesus was not speaking in terms of family relationships in this world. Neither did He deny his own earthly family. He regarded spiritual ties with the believers as far more important than the earthly family. Those who do the will of the heavenly Father by accepting Jesus identify themselves as members of God’s household.

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