Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 560
Context: In Chapter 12 of his Gospel, Matthew tells of a time when Jesus and His disciples go abroad on the Sabbath day and walk among the cornfields. The disciples are hungry; they are picking the grains of corn and eating them. The Pharisees, always eager to trap Jesus, point out that it is not lawful to do such an act on the Sabbath. Jesus replies by reminding them that David took bread from the altar on the Sabbath when he and his companions were hungry, and tells the Pharisees that mercy is more important than sacrifice. "The Son of man," He informs them, "is Lord even of the sabbath day." A man with a withered hand approaches and the Pharisees, in another effort to trap Jesus, ask Him whether it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus points out that if any of them had a sheep which fell into a pit on the Sabbath, the sheep would be pulled out–and that surely a sheep is less important than a man. He then heals the cripple and sends him away rejoicing. The Pharisees are infuriated; their laws have been turned upon them in a most uncomfortable way, and it seems this opponent has an answer for everything they bring against Him. All too frequently His answers leave them with none of their own. They retire from His presence and hold a conference, trying to plan some way to destroy Him. While they are doing so, Jesus quietly goes forth among the multitudes that follow Him and as He heals them requests that they not make Him known. Matthew links this episode to one of the prophecies of Isaiah: that the Servant (that is, Messiah) will teach the new religion quietly and gently that it may spread across the earth. The Pharisees' next move is to accuse Jesus of being in league with Beelzebub; in His reply He states firmly that in man's acceptance of Christ, there is no middle ground.
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.
And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils.
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:
And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?
And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
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.
He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad.
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
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