In chapter 11, no one opposes Jesus directly. In chapter 12, opposition turns explicit and ugly. First, the Jewish authorities called Jesus on the carpet for breaking their Sabbath laws. Although it cannot be proven that Jesus went beyond the infringement of the “oral law: to violating the Old Testament itself, part of the argument Jesus made on His behalf appeals to Old Testament precedent in which the very provisions of the Mosaic law were violated. Matthew reasoned that in Jesus something greater than both David and the temple (the king and priestly cult) is present. Surely very serious infractions indeed would be needed to have elicited the Pharisees’ extreme response. Jesus withdrew from hostilities and in doing so again fulfilled Scripture.
But the antagonism quickly resumed and grew to a fever pitch. Another exorcism led to the identical charge as in chapter 9, verse 34. This time, Jesus responded at some length. The Jews dared not accuse Him of being empowered by the devil. They too cast out demons, so their argument could easily turn back on themselves. In fact, it is absurd to imagine Satan warring against himself in this way. More so than any other kind of miracle, the exorcisms should make plain that God’s saving rule has arrived.
Exorcisms are often frightening to us. And we want very much to not consciously think about them. Perhaps we have seen too many movies and television shows and read too many novels to understand. Even trying to study biblical history and psychology leaves us a bit stunned. It’s all too easy to say, “The Devil make me do it,” and incredibly hard to really believe that there is any truth in that simple statement. Exorcisms are difficult to handle in contemporary society. Exorcisms are very rarely performed within the modern church and they are taken very seriously. Lay people practicing exorcisms can cause real danger and should surely be regarded with caution. For those who are interested, there is an excellent article in “The New York Times” entitled: For Catholics, Interest in Exorcism is Revived. This work may lend new understanding to the rarity and gravity of modern church sanctioned exorcisms.
Verses 23 through 35 of chapter 9 of the Gospel of Matthew give us a brief explanation of the exorcisms performed by Jesus:
“As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”
References: Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor and Holy Bible, King James Version.
Columbia Prayer Chain
Tuesday, September 13
In our prayers: Jerry Callahan, Russ Meyne, April Goodwin, Laura Bushnell, Loretta M. in Cayce, Kody Oswald, Tina Bailey, Oliver Crawford, Edgar Maxwell, Laura Lou Roamans, Elizabeth Adams, Rootie Pope in Leesville, Gene Awtrey in Spring Valley, John Conde, Millie Husbands, Clyde Ireland, Sam King, Bob Whiteside, Chuck Witten, Lindsay Cathcart, Raven Tarpley, Elizabeth F., Steven and Janelle, William Alex McDaniels, Maddie Rosenthal, DuBose Tuller
In memoriam: Dorothy “Dot” R. Kyzer, Gaynelle Asbill Smigelski, Joan Andreena Colclough, Peggie Ruth Felder, Aisley “Noonie” Martin Busbee
Our prayers are with: All victims of natural disasters, Mandy and all beloved pets, our president and congress and all who serve in the armed forces
Columbia Prayer Chain is open to all residents of greater Columbia who would like to share prayers and receive the prayers of others. Please leave your name in the comment box below or email me to join our Prayer Chain. It is updated daily as prayers are requested.
Sharon is a member of the Community Church of the Midlands that meets at Seven Oaks Community Center at 200 Leisure Lane In Columbia and is a frequent participant, with her husband Douglas, at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral located at in Columbia.
Follow Sharon on Twitter or friend Sharon on Facebook