Blasphemy against the Spirit

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Matthew 12:22-45; Proverbs 30:10

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Matthew 12:31 “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

REFLECT
When it comes to “favourite” verses or passages of the Christian, I am quite sure that Matthew 12:31 is not a popular choice. What did Jesus mean by “blasphemy against the Spirit”? What can be so damning for a God who sent His only Son that He will not forgive? As in all passages and verses, it must be understood in its context. What is the context? The context is that in Matthew 12:22-30, Jesus was addressing a group of Pharisees who accused Jesus of casting out demons by the demonic spirit of Beelzebul. Jesus first destroyed their illogical conclusion. Since no house would seek to destroy itself; why would the demons cast out their very own?

Jesus then gave them the warning; that their accusation is a very serious one. It was as if the Pharisees are blaspheming (which literally means showing contempt or lack of reverence) the Holy Spirit. Such cannot be forgiven because there is no basis for God to grant forgiveness. Any other sins or blasphemies can be forgiven assuming the one who did them repent. However, how is one to repent against the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? It cannot be done. Why?

Because when one blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and call out good to be evil; there is no repentance to speak of. Therefore God cannot grant forgiveness when grace is rejected; when the Holy Spirit is accused to be demonic. It was as if the Pharisees, despite Jesus’ warning and rebuke, kept on refusing the Light and insisted that Jesus is the enemy. If this is so, how then can such be forgiven since there is no recognition of who God truly is and even the rejection of what He offered?

RELATE
Jesus’ warning to the Pharisees serves as a great reminder for me. A reminder that the sharing of the Gospel is urgent. Not only to our loved ones or friends; but to any whom the Lord has placed in our paths. We are called to share the Gospel which includes being the Gospel. This means walking in the truth. This means conducting our lives as it should be according to the word of God. Then, as we do so, we pray that those whom we cared about will come to believe.

If they continue to deny the truth despite of the grace and love they experienced, then may the Lord has mercy. At the end of the day, it is God who decide; not us. For the Lord had demonstrated His everlasting love in order for us to come to Him. There is really nothing else more to do or pine for. Jesus’ birth, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension is the all in all. It is done. It is finished.

This Christmas season, let us not indulge ourselves in the “sales” of worldly things; but to be “urgent” in being and sharing the Gospel.

REST
Lord my God, help me to care enough to share the Gospel with love and urgency. Amen.

Pigs or men?

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Matthew 8:18-34; Psalm 133:1-3

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Matthew 8:32-34
32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.

REFLECT
It was a peculiar scene. Jesus just helped the entire city drove out powerful demons and all the people wanted was to ask Jesus to leave. Why? The text did not say in specific details but we can make good inferences based on what happened. The problem could be because Jesus acceded to the demons’ request to be driven into a herd of pigs. Under powerful demonic influences, the pigs drove themselves into the waters. Witnessing such a scene, the herdsmen fled and probably told all in the city that even though Jesus drove away demons, they have lost their mighty possessions (pigs were a livelihood after all). The city could be in fear that they could lose more if Jesus had stayed. In a way, it was preferred that the demon-possessed men stayed that way and the herdsmen could keep their pigs.

RELATE
By asking Jesus to leave, a choice was made by the city-dwellers. The choice to retain whatever possessions they have left for fear of losing them. They preferred to have not witnessed the power of salvation but to keep whatever the world can offer. It is easy to judge them however. It is easy to say that they were foolish to have missed the Messiah and gave in to fear.

Yet, we could just be as foolish at times. We could have easily choose possessions over Jesus. much of the time. We could have even chosen “pigs” instead of the salvation of fellow men. We do this when we cower at the inconvenience of caring for the people around us. We do this when we prefer to spend time at work than interacting with pre-believing friends or even family members. We do this when we pretend to be pious Christians on Sundays; but deep down, we could barely part with what we have. We do this when we prefer to protect our self-interest than to “risk” it for the sake of His kingdom.

REST
Help us Lord, to choose You instead of what we think is important to us. Help us to have faith and seek Your kingdom first. Amen.

Light vs Darkness

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Matthew 4:12-25; Proverbs 29:21-22

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Matthew 4:15-16 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

REFLECT
Matthew 4:15-16 speaks of the prophecy that was given to the prophet Isaiah. A prophecy that pointed to the coming of Jesus as the Light of the world. In particular, we are told that the Light was made visible and dawned upon those who were living in darkness and even in the shadow of death.

Now, what does this mean? This means that Jesus came not because He wanted to set a new world order nor was He interested to be king of the world. Instead, Jesus came to bring light into our fallen world. In particular, Jesus had brought Himself to be God incarnate to be the source of salvation for those who are lost and grieving. Indeed, Jesus is the Light that was made visible and dawned upon those who were living in darkness.

RELATE
My daughter has a fear for darkness. Up till this day, she would ask me to accompany her if there is a need for her to go to dark places. Sometimes, I would tell her that because Jesus is with her, she need not fear. Jesus is the Light and He can overcome all darkness. Of course, there are times when she cannot appreciate such an imagery when all she saw in front of her is physical darkness.

Yes, physical darkness can be an overwhelming experience for some. However, what Jesus promised was much deeper than the overcoming of physical darkness. He had promised that He can help those who are living in darkness and even those in the shadow of death to gain victory.

Spiritual darkness can occur even when the sun is shining. Spiritual darkness is the imagery of how we are struggling in our sins or difficult circumstances which cause us much grief and tears. Yet, Jesus the Light has the power to penetrate our souls and purify us for His good purposes. Jesus the Light has the grace to provide hope and comfort even when we are in the valley of the shadow of death. The promise has been given ever since the time of Isaiah; what is left to do is to come to the Light. What is left to do is to put our trust in Him and follow the Light; as He said to the disciples a few verses later in Matthew 4: 18-20: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”.

REST
Jesus, help me to be humble and come to you, especially when I struggle with spiritual darkness. This is because You are the only Light that can help overcome and empower. Amen.