Pharisees and Blasphemers
– By Ron Graham –
“At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat,” Matthew 12:1. In this chapter of the Gospel of Matthew something occurs that is pivotal in Christ’s ministry. First of all we see Jesus and His disciples pick corn and eat it on the Sabbath day. One of the many Pharisaical laws was no one works on the Sabbath. Jesus listening to their ranting tries to explain about the Sabbath and how David and his men ate the shewbread from the temple and that the priests in the Temple profaned the Sabbath but were found blameless. He tells them that there is One with them who is greater than the Temple.
After picking the corn Jesus then went against the Law and healed a man with a withered hand, and then Matthew tells us that Jesus went out from them because the Pharisees were conspiring to kill Him. The multitude followed Him and He healed them all. The Greek word translated “healed” is therapeuō which is where we get our English word therapeutic. In the Greek it has different meanings, some of which are to heal, cure, restore to health. It can also mean to serve, or do service. Jesus served His followers by attending to their needs and restoring their health. Afterwards, Jesus healed a man who was deaf, dumb, and possessed with a demon. At this point the Pharisees had seen and heard enough; they were determined to destroy Jesus.
Throughout the Gospels we can read about how the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus for going against their man made traditional laws. Jesus gave these hard hearted and foolish individuals every opportunity to understand and to believe. He spoke to them plainly, so plainly that a child could understand what He was professing. Did they misunderstand Jesus or were they so completely consumed by their own perversions that they couldn’t see the truth? The sin of what the Pharisees did next must be considered satanic.
The Pharisees’ next words were a deliberate not accidental statement. They had witnessed over and over again the Lord’s power and had the evidence right at their fingertips as to who Jesus was, but still they said “…This [fellow] doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils,” Matthew 12:24.
Jesus, knowing their thoughts, went into an explanation about how a house divided against itself cannot stand in verse 25, but then in a rebuking manner Jesus states, “And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast [them] out? therefore they shall be your judges”, Matthew 12:27. It appears as though they themselves were also casting out demons, apparently in the manner of today’s exorcisms. So by calling Jesus Beelzebub they had just condemned themselves, and this is what brought Jesus to His next point. “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men… ‘And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him…” Matthew 12: 31 – 32a.  
The Pharisees were not ignorant of the Divine Christ in their presence. The Holy Spirit had made manifest Christ’s Divine attributes which would eliminate any misunderstanding about who He was. With such great evidence which the Pharisees had been witnessing, probably on a daily basis, their declaration that Jesus Christ was Beelzebub could only be made by those who were under Satan’s power. Consequently forgiveness would not be forthcoming. “…but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the [world] to come,” Matthew 12:32b.
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, ever. This obviously is the greatest sin because it is irrevocable and unforgivable. If we cannot see the truth of who Jesus is, and who He was, and why He came, we are without excuse because the evidence is clear. The Pharisees saw His awesome power demonstrated more times than most of us even realize. As we read our Bibles, we see that the writers lay out for us the miracles which Jesus had performed, great miracles certainly, but how many in all? In the last chapter of the Gospel of John verse 25 we’re given, not a figure, but a statement that explains quite simply how many miracles Jesus had performed as He traversed the plains of Judea, and walked the shores of Galilee, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written,” John 21:25. All of Jesus’ miracles were not written down because according to the Apostle John the world couldn’t hold all the books. In John’s day everything was written on scrolls which were much more cumbersome than the books of today. At any rate the Pharisees had no excuse for their failure to recognize their Messiah.
As I stated in the first paragraph above, the 12th chapter of Matthew is the pivotal point in Christ’s ministry. This is without a doubt the point where He was thoroughly rejected by the Jews, His chosen people. The rejection came as a slap in the face of God by the ones who had all the scriptures at their fingertips and should have known who Jesus was. Jesus fulfilled many prophecies through His birth and three year ministry. These were prophecies that the Pharisees should have been aware of, but were actually blinded to. When Jesus was put to death on the cross that was a fulfillment of prophecy, as well as His resurrection on the third day, His ascension into Heaven, and even where He sits today were all laid out for us in advance.
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” Isaiah 7:14. This was a prophecy of Jesus’ birth. There are many prophecies written by Isaiah, each one written hundreds of years before Jesus was born. And in the Psalms David tells of His death. “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet Psalm 22:16. And then in verse 18 we see what the soldiers did with our Lords clothes at the foot of the cross, “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” In the next two verses we read about the statements the Pharisees made as they watched Jesus die. “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, [saying], He trusted on the LORD [that] he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him,” Psalm 22:7 & 8. How did His followers react at the sight of their Savior dying on the cross? The prophet Zechariah tells us, “…and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced , and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn,” Zechariah 12:10. David foretells of Christ’s resurrection, “O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit,” Psalm 30:3. Again we have David prophesying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Psalm 22:1. Those are the exact words that Matthew records Jesus saying as He hung on the cross, “….Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani….,” Matthew 27:46. Although the prophecy in Psalm 22 was written in Hebrew, Matthew recorded the words as Jesus spoke them in Aramaic. Many of David’s psalms were of prophetic significance and referring to the Christ.
By the middle of Matthew’s Gospel chapter 12, the Jews had rejected Jesus as their Messiah and were actively seeking to kill Him. Beginning in Chapter 13 and continuing to the end of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus speaks only in parables to the people. As Matthew records Jesus’ words He never again allows the Jewish leaders to understand what He is teaching. He explains these strange picture stories to His disciples but not to the nation of Israel as a whole. They have rejected their savior.
The Jews didn’t just reject Him, they spoke evil against Him, and they wanted to kill Him to get rid of all that He taught. The Pharisees wanted nothing remaining no memory of what Jesus did or said that would be an influence to the people. They went to the Garden of Gethsemane in the middle of the night and laid hold of Him, and after the most illegal trial in the history of humanity they delivered Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, so he could carry out the death sentence the Jews had placed on Jesus. All of which was prophesied in the scriptures hundreds of years previous to Jesus’ appearing on the scene, and the Pharisees were in charge of the scriptures where all these prophecies were located.
In God’s eyes they had done evil to His only begotten Son; this blasphemy would not be tolerated. Even though the people of Israel were under Roman rule they were still a nation in God’s eyes. Jesus now turned His focus to the Gentiles because of the hardness in the hearts of Israel.
All believers have been made joint heirs with Christ. We have become the bride and body of Christ. All who place their faith and trust in Him shall see eternal life, whether they be Jew or Gentile all can become partakers in His Kingdom through the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son, He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God,” 1 John 5:11-13.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31,32; Mark 3:28,29; Luke 12:10) is regarded by some as a continued and obstinate rejection of the Gospel, and hence is an unpardonable sin, simply because as long as a sinner remains in unbelief he voluntarily excludes himself from pardon. Anyone who denies Christ and dies in that state of denial is a blasphemer of the Holy Spirit. How is that? God’s Spirit is everywhere convicting everyone of the truth of who Jesus is, and of what He did for the world. Refusing the Holy Spirit’s prodding is to refuse Christ, and to refuse to accept Christ’s atoning sacrifice as payment in full for all your sins, you’ve blasphemed the Holy Spirit. There is no reprieve for those who’ve died in that state of denial.
Why not accept the truth of the Gospel, why not accept the free gift of salvation presented to us by God’s Son? What have you to lose? Just one’s soul for eternity that’s all. If there is no God and no Heaven or Hell, then there’s no need for repentance, and no need for a savior, although you won’t know it until you die. But what if you were wrong? When you die without Jesus as your personal savior you’re going to be confronted with either nothing at all or the awful truth that you’ve made a huge mistake.
And that my friend is a gamble you’ll never recover from.