In this rather large passage of scripture, we see the rejection by Israel, as a nation, of Jesus Christ. There were multitudes of people who were amazed at the miracles he did and the words he preached. Nevertheless, the Pharisees rejected him and then eventually turned the multitudes against him at his trial (Matt 27:20).
As we study this lesson, we will note what Jesus did or said, the reaction of the Pharisees, [as an aside we will contrast the reaction of the people] and then what resulted from the Pharisees’ reaction.
What Jesus did – Healed a man on the sabbath (v. 9-13).
How the Pharisees reacted – Held a council how they might destroy him (v. 14). Note: the multitudes followed him to be healed (why would you kill a man that could perform that miracle?). They were not to make him known (v. 15) because it was not time for Jesus to die and the Pharisees were trying to kill him.
The Result – This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that the gospel would go to the Gentiles (v.18, 21). Yet Jesus had only come for the lost sheep of Israel (Matt 15:24; 10:5-6). He was not going to force Israel to follow him (v. 19). At the same time, he was not going forsake them entirely (v. 20). Eventually Israel gets saved (Rom 11:26).
What Jesus did – Healed a demon possessed man (v. 22).
How the Pharisees reacted – Accused him of casting out devils by Beelzebub (v. 24). Note: The multitudes were amazed and realized that he must be the Messiah (son of David, v. 23; Matt 22:41-42 the Pharisees should have known that).
The Result – The Pharisees blasphemed the Holy Ghost, in their rejection of Christ, which was an unforgivable sin (v. 31-32). There were three reasons Jesus gave why he was not casting out demons by the devil: 1) Satan’s kingdom would be divided (v. 25-26); 2) their children were casting them out, and they were not being accused of doing that by the devil (v. 27); 3) the kingdom of God had come unto them (v. 28-30) [which was the beginning of the work that will be completed at the 2nd Advent when Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit and the Jews will be free from their bondage (Rev 20; Jn 8)].
What Jesus did – He preached against them (v. 33-37). Basically the sermon was, “As a good tree produces good fruit and is therefore a good tree, likewise I’m doing good works and preaching good words which cannot come from a wicked heart. You, on the other hand, are opposing these good words and works, which is evidence of your wicked heart, in the same way that corrupt fruit is evidence of a corrupt tree. Your words will condemn you.”
How the Pharisees reacted – They rejected his preaching and required a sign (v. 38). That was foolish. They had seen numerous signs and had rejected them.
The Result – Jesus promised only one more sign to this wicked generation, the sign of the prophet Jonas (v. 39-40). Jonah’s trip in the whale and his ultimate resurrection from hell (Jon 2:2) picture the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.