Today’s passages included Matthew 8, 11 & 12, and some corresponding scriptures out of Luke 7 & 11. The point of a chronological read of the gospels is to (attempt to) put in order the details of Jesus’ life and ministry. At this point, His presence and boldness are just starting to aggravate those who will not believe (Pharisees, Sadducees, and other skeptics). Jesus challenges their thinking. He is drawing a line in the sand, and by the end of it, no one will be able to stand on the sidelines in neutrality. They will either believe or reject.
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (Matthew 12:30)
Jesus makes this statement in the context of explaining the sin for which there is no forgiveness, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees have accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul (Satan). Jesus tells them how foolish this is; a king would not lay waste to and divide his own house. It should be obvious to them that He operates from a place of authority over Beelzebul’s kingdom, the power and authority that comes from the Spirit of God.
I believe this defines real faith: recognizing the power and authority of Jesus. Earlier, in Matthew 8, a centurion (most likely a Roman) asks Jesus to heal his servant. He tells Jesus that He does not need to come to him, but just say the word because He knows Jesus has the power to heal and has the authority to do it. Jesus commends him, saying He has not found “such great faith” in Israel.
Later, Jesus encounters a woman at Simon the Pharisee’s house, who weeps over Him, washing His feet with her tears. Jesus tells Simon she loves greatly because she has been forgiven much. He tells her that her sins are forgiven, and her faith has saved her. The woman recognized Jesus’ power and authority over sin. She repented, weeping, entrusting herself to Him.
We cannot be neutral when it comes to Jesus. We can choose to reject His power and authority as the Pharisees did, attributing it to Satan. They rejected the power and authority of the Holy Spirit over demonic forces. They refused to believe; they were unwilling to accept who Jesus was, which is unforgivable. Disbelief in Jesus, rejecting His power and authority – that is what will not be forgiven by God, and will cause us to stand before Him and be held responsible for our own sins.
In contrast, real faith recognizes the power and authority of Jesus. He is the Son of God. He alone has the power and authority to forgive sin. The Spirit of God has the power and authority to transform us into His likeness, as we allow Him to rule over us in every aspect of our lives. Salvation begins when we accept His authority and experience His power.
What about you? Do you think you can be “neutral” about Jesus? Non-committal? Think He was just a good teacher, a prophet, but no more or less than any other religious leader? Don’t be fooled. There is no middle ground when it comes to Jesus. You’re either with Him, or against Him.