Today we start a short series looking at eight of Jesus’ miracles.
St Matthew 12.22-37
Then they brought to Jesus a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. All the crowds were amazed and said,
‘Can this be the Son of David?’
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said,
‘It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.’
He knew what they were thinking and said to them,
‘Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
‘Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’
The healing of a man who is blind and unable to talk comes immediately after Jesus has been challenged about what is right or wrong to do on the sabbath day. As soon as the man is healed Jesus is challenged again. This time he is condemned for using power from the devil to heal.
However we understand the principles of health or lack of health, it is clear that Jesus sees healing as an indication that God’s Kingdom is present. He goes on to talk about good and evil using the metaphor of good and bad trees, one producing a good crop whilst the other produces bad fruit.
Unambiguous language is being used in this text. Good things come from good stock. Good people demonstrate the goodness in their hearts by speaking of good things and the converse is true. People who have evil intentions do bad things. Jesus clearly distinguishes between good and evil when he talks about judgement and what will or will not be forgiven.
He then tells how we will be judged – our own words will justify or condemn us. In other words we will judge ourselves. Perhaps the ‘demons’ that so perplex us today and were evident in the ministry of Jesus represent all that is against the Spirit and Kingdom of God.
We are often denied clarity in our decision making and find it difficult to decide between a right and a wrong choice in our daily lives. We may ignore or deny the things that we know to be good, even when we acknowledge that they contribute to wholeness within ourselves and in the world. Maybe in the end what will determine a good rather than a bad outcome will be produced not by us but by the Spirit of goodness invited to live within our hearts. The Spirit will defeat the demons and render them powerless in the Kingdom of God.
We praise you for your loving goodness,
for Jesus and for giving us your Spirit.
We thank you that you created us
and your knowledge of us is complete.
We are grateful that you have entrusted us
with caring for and enjoying your world.
We ask for your help to make room in our hearts
for your Spirit of goodness.
Sheila Church is a member of Harecourt URC in Islington.