The following post is taken from a “New Testament in a Year” challenge that I was asked to write some contributions for by my home church, Gateway.
I think we all have people in our lives – and people we meet – who are sceptical of our faith. Especially in the early stages when we first become a Christian, and especially if they have known us a long time. They are waiting for us to trip up. Watching to see if this new found enthusiasm and “the new you” will really last, or if it’s just another phase we are going through.
As we mature, if we are in any way vocal about our faith we will still meet people who are a little suspicious or even cynical about the Christian faith. Generally speaking, those people fall into two categories:
- The genuinely curious
- Those who just want to tear you down.
This second group of people isn’t a new problem, and Jesus has already modelled how to deal with these situations.
In our previous reading, we saw the Pharisees – the religious elite of the day, trying to trip Jesus up and accuse Him. They tried to get Him on points of the law – specifically that He broke the Sabbath. Of course, Jesus was able to answer their accusations in such a way that He exposed their legalistic and unloving motives. No wonder they didn’t like Him!
Today’s reading continues on the same theme. Jesus heals a man who is possessed by demons, blind and mute. When the man is healed, we are told that all the people are amazed. The Pharisees, however, are simply angry. Instead of allowing themselves to see the truth of what is happening in front of their eyes, they simply move the argument onto new ground.
“Well, he can only do that because he’s tapping in to the devils power”
Jesus points out that this, too, is a ridiculous suggestion. If Satan is casting out Satan, then his kingdom is falling apart and he is defeated. If however, Jesus is casting out demons by the Spirit of God – then Satan’s kingdom has fallen because the Kingdom of God has arrived. Either way, the devil is defeated.
He continues in verse 33:
“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”
In other words – you can’t have it both ways. Either what is in front of you is good, or it’s bad. I think everyone witnessing this exchange would have agreed that a blind and mute man being set free is a really good thing!
So next up, they decide they want a sign (verse 38). Jesus knows, though, that some people will not believe no matter what you show them. They are only interested in tearing things down. So instead of saying “See that cripple on the mat over there? Watch this!” Jesus tells them that the only sign they will get is His death, burial and resurrection. In other words, He decides to let the fruit of His life and ministry speak for itself.
In this passage Jesus has given us a template for how to deal with those people who try to trip us up, or tangle us up in arguments. Just as with the Pharisees and Jesus, there are some people in our lives who don’t really want to be convinced – and the best thing to do for them is just let the changes in your life – your own personal resurrection – do the talking.