Divided We Die

Matthew 12:22-26 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. 25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

How Was Christianity Received In Ancient Rome?

When Christ and the New Covenant called “Christianity” first came into the world, it was not embraced the those who were in charge.

Word Study Have you ever heard the word “superstition”? When we hear this word, we think of it as myths or unfounded beliefs that some people hold. For us, “superstition” says:

Walking under a ladder is bad luck”
“Friday the 13th is a cursed day”
“If a black cat crosses your path – uh oh!”
“If you get jinxed, rub the head of a red head boy”
“If your nose itches company is coming”

I could go on and on. There are many “superstitions” in the world, and some have even crept into architecture and science. The next time you ride an elevator, look for a thirteenth floor”. Odds are, you won’t find one. “Superstition”.

The word “superstition” actually comes from ancient Rome. The Latin word “superstitio” was applied to anything that was considered “shameful, ridiculous, subversive, and socially dangerous”. In other words, that which was “superstitio” was a threat to Rome itself. Rome was quite liberal in its treatment of religion. You could worship anything or anyone you wanted. Rome thought that was fine. But you also – along with your gods and goddesses – had to respect and worship the gods and goddesses or Rome. Michael Kruger in his book Christianity at the Crossroads: How the Second Century Shaped the future of the Church:

“…a superstitio is a religious group that was out of sync with the traditional Roman understanding of what religion was designed to do.”

Whatever your religion, as long as you worshiped – in addition to your gods – the gods of Rome and the Cult of Caesar – then you were fine. However Jesus Christ and His followers – derisively called “Christians” – refused to worship the other gods. Roman Senator Tacitus said of Christianity:

a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular… {Christianity is the very essence of} hatred against mankind” (Annals, 15.44).

Pliny the Younger, an Imperial Governor declared the Christian faith “depraved, excessive superstition”. He was upset that the pagan temples were emptying out, and animal sacrifices were ceasing. The growth of the Christian superstition was effecting the economy of Rome, and thus was a threat to the empire. Pliny wrote:

The contagion of this superstition has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and countryside, but it can probably be arrested and cured. It is quite clear that the temples which has been almost deserted for a long time have begun to be frequented and that the sacred rituals that has long lapsed are being revived, and that there is a general demand for sacrificial animals which, for some time, were finding very few buyers.” (Warrior, 15.5)

Suetonius, a biographer to the Caesars, wrote “Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition” (Nero, 16.2). Christians were tried in Roman courts. When the Christian was charged and stood before the judgment seat, he or she was given a chance to repent and honor the gods and the emperor. If they did not recant, the Christian was put to spectacular death in the Coliseum, a means of entertaining the faithful Roman public while ridding the empire of this contagion.

All the Christians had to do was compromise with the other gods and goddesses. If they would compromise, they would be spared. But the Christians would not compromise. Christians made ridiculous claims like:

Mark 12:29 {Jesus said} The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

Mark 12:32 … there is one God; and there is none other but he

John 17:3 … this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

1 Corinthians 8:4-6 … we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Galatians 3:20 … God is one

1 Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Christians refused the recant. They were saved by faith in Jesus Christ, and they worshiped the only God that was indeed is God. This angered Rome, and caused many Christians to be martyred for the faith.

The Christian is called to follow Jesus. Not public opinion, not political correctness. We are to follow Jesus. It will not be easy, but it is anti-Christ and pagan to compromise with the world. The Word of God defines our truth.

Jesus Christ Came To Represent God To All
Who Are Broken, All Who Need Love

When Jesus Christ came to this earth, He came representing the One True God. When Philip asked Jesus to “show us the Father”, Jesus told him:

John 14:10 … Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

Jesus is the Messiah, the Mediator between God and Man. He is the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). Jesus said:

Matthew 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

We are told in Hebrews that “in these last days, God has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He has appointed heir of all things, through Whom He also made the world” (Hebrews 1:2-3). Jesus Christ was born of a virgin to enter this world and represent the Father.

Jesus showed us the Father’s love. He entered the Synagogue – the local Church – on a Sabbath day. When Jesus came into that congregation the Bible tells us:

Matthew 12:10 … there was a man which had his hand withered. And {the Pharisees} asked {Jesus}, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

God gave the Sabbath to Israel as a time of “intermission”, a time when they were supposed to pause and praise the Lord Who saved them. (We’ll discuss the Sabbath in more detail tonight). The Pharisees knew that Jesus was going about supernaturally healing people. They asked Jesus “Is it lawful (according to the Mosaic Law) to heal on a Sabbath day?”

The Pharisees thought by asking this question that Jesus would compromise, and not do a healing out of respect for the Sabbath.

It is significant that this incident happened in a Synagogue, which is like a local Church today. They thought that Jesus would compromise, and leave this poor man broken because of the Sabbath. Will Jesus compromise?

Let’s examine a similar setting in Luke.

Luke 13:10-17 … {Jesus} was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and GLORIFIED GOD. 14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, BECAUSE THAT JESUS HAD HEALED ON THE SABBATH DAY, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. 15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? 16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? 17 And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

God loves people, and loves to heal broken people. Religion had taken the Law of God and turned it into a heartless thing. God gave the Law out of love. He gave the Sabbath to Israel out of love.

We can see, even our day, that the farther a people get from the God Who is, the God of the Bible, the worst a nation becomes.

People need the Lord. This poor woman – bound by an infirmity brought on by Satan for 18 years – this woman needs the Lord. What will Jesus do? Will He heal her, or will He please the religious but lost crowd. Jesus healed her, then called the religious out on their hypocrisy. Jesus does the same thing in our text today. We read:

Matthew 12:11-12 And {Jesus} said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? 12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

God loves us. If the Pharisee had a sheep or an oxen fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, that same person would get the animal out. No one but the most heartless of people would hear an animal moan and suffer throughout the day, Sabbath or no. The Bible says:

1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

God is love. God would not – could not – have a poor man with a withered hand sit in His Bible class suffering, hurting. Humans are made in the image of God. Sheep and goats are not, neither are oxen or cattle. God made us in His image, and loves us as His creation. We do not watch others suffering without trying to help, trying to have compassion.

1 John 4:16 … we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

It is lawful – fully in keeping with the Mosaic Law – to do good on the Sabbath. To love others is to do good. I say again, to love others, DEMONSTRATIVELY love others, is to do good. Jesus did not compromise with the world. Instead He loved, radically loved, though the Pharisees hated Him for it.

Matthew 12:13 Then saith {Jesus} to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.

Jesus did good. He demonstrated the love of God to others. He healed a man on the Sabbath. What did the Pharisees do in response?

Matthew 12:14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

This is not love. This is not “Being the Light” that God wants you to be. Love stands up and does the right thing, the loving thing. Love lifts others up. Love never justifies sin – absolutely not!

Love does not stand in opposition to the Law, but is Lawful, and fulfills the Law.

How many people did Jesus heal on this Sabbath day? We do not know. But once the Pharisees left, the Bible tells us:

Matthew 12:15-16 when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; 16 And charged them that they should not make him known:

Jesus left the Synagogue – the local Church – but He continued to show God’s love toward ALL. Great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them ALL. Jesus did not just heal Jews. Jesus healed Gentiles as well. How do I know this? Because of what is said next. Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1-4 as he writes:

Matthew 12:17-21 {Jesus healed all} 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 shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. 19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

Jesus Christ was never racist. He came to save whosoever will. If Jesus Christ came to save all who believe in Him, then we who are His must magnify His name to all people regardless of color or status in life. The Pharisees were focused on keeping the Law as long as what they believed was “The Law” honored their select group of people. Jesus Christ was on their hit list because He came representing God to the whole world – not just a select few.

Divided Kingdoms Are Brought To Desolation

Matthew 12:22-23 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

When Jesus’ followers saw our Lord cast a demon out of a man (see also Luke 11:14), His followers said “Is this not the Son of David?” That title belongs to the Messiah, the One Who would one day sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem. This not only frightened, but infuriated the Pharisees. They told the people:

Matthew 12:24 … This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

Word Study The name Beelzebub refers to Ba’al, the Canaanite fertility god from the city of Zebub (called Baalzebub in 2 Kings 1:6). The name literally means “The lord of dung” or “the lord of the flies”. Beelzebub was considered the chief demon under Satan. The Pharisees said that Jesus was “casting out devils” from people using satanic power.

Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them

I want you to notice first that Jesus knew THEIR THOUGHTS. They did not say this to Jesus’ face, but as Incarnate God He knows what they are thinking. The Psalmist said “Lord, You know my thoughts before I think them” (Psalm 139:2), and also “The Lord knows the thoughts of people” (Psalm 94:11). Jesus knew what the Pharisees were telling others behind His back. You cannot hide anything from God. Jesus told those who would listen:

Matthew 12:25-27 … Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.

Word Study The word “desolation” is the Greek ἐρημόω erēmóō, {pronounced er-ay-mo’-o} which means “to lay waste, to nullify, to make as nothing, to be stripped of all value”. It refers to utter destruction. If Jesus were in league with Satan, then both Satan and Jesus’ respective Kingdoms would cease to exist. Light cannot blend with darkness. Either darkness erases the light, or light washes out the darkness. A divided house cannot stand.

  • A divided mind will not be blessed. Our minds are to be on Jesus, believing His Word. The Scripture says:

James 1:5-8 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

  • A divided faith will not stand. Jesus Christ cast out devils by the Spirit of God. We read:

Matthew 12:28-30 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
This entry was posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.