Matthew 12:22-37

Then they brought to him 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 judgment 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.” Matthew 12:22-37

Today’s reading was long. It is also both profound and timely. I hope you didn’t skip reading it. Either way, go back and read it again.

The story begins by Jesus healing a man who cannot see or talk. He is opposed by people who can physically see but they are blind to what is actually happening right before their very eyes. They can easily speak, but they have no idea what they are saying.

Every time I read these words I think about Abraham Lincoln. In 1858, after being selected to run for a seat in the US Senate, Lincoln wrote a speech in which he reached for these words from Matthew. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Lincoln lost that election. It wouldn’t be the last time that voters would prove to be both blind and mute – oblivious to reality, mindlessly spouting crazy words, on the wrong side of truth, justice, and what makes for healthy human community.

Nor would it be the last time that the principles of the Christian faith would be twisted and undermined for the sake of protecting idols.

The opponents of Jesus fuel the flames of division. They mischaracterize his words and they attack him with baseless accusations that sound bad even when both unproven and unprovable. They eat him up with sound bites.

Jesus warns the Pharisees that even a strong house can easily be plundered. But maybe they already know that. Maybe they have already figured out how easily they can continue to accrue the advantages of self-dealing unless someone like Jesus gets in their way.

Jesus tells us that the proof is in the pudding. A tree will be known by its fruits. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior – unless, or until, God works the miracle of transformation in a person’s life.

And finally Jesus tells us that words matter. “I tell you, on the day of judgment 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.” Carelessly uttered words – even 140 characters at a time – that lie, that bear false witness against people, that distort and distract and demean – have consequences.

I have to say it – Abraham Lincoln read this Bible passage and used it to lead a divided country toward justice. I wish both politicians and the populace would read them again to the same end.

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, in the face of continued devastation, hurricanes and earthquakes, wild fires and refugees, guide those with the power to be helpful to see good cause to end their  flaming of division. Help us see, in the face of all that might otherwise divide us, opportunities to love rather than blindly following the empty promises of opportunists. Be with all who are hurting, bring them one step closer to recovery. Bear good fruit among us. In Jesus name. Amen.


3 Responses to “Matthew 12:22-37”

  1. Marthe Hildreth Says:

    Amen, amen. Thank you.

  2. Georgene Says:


  3. Dave Armstrong Says:

    I love your prayer today! Right on!!! I read it twice; twice blessed!

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