5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
If a sincere and godly scruple -- a fear of violating the will of God -- had been the real inspiration of the question the Pharisees had put, it would have received some consideration at the hands of Christ, who was always patient with the contrite.
But such was not at all the case, as shewn by their habitual disregard of the will of God in a hundred other things. He therefore dealt with their words in anger:
"He looked round about upon them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts" (Mar. iii. 5).
Nazareth revisited Ch 25
11 And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.
James ii :19: "The devils also believe and tremble."
Men possessed of unclean spirits were themselves spoken of as unclean spirits (or demons). These lunatics were believers in God and in Christ, as is proved by their ejaculations on meeting Christ; but their faith was not a saving faith, because it did not work rational results in their lives.
James points to this as a proof that "faith without works is dead."
The Christadelphian, Oct 1887.
17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:
Sons of Thunder-which suggests that they were fiery men, of zealous mind and prompt action -
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? (Lk 9: 54)
21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. (Mad!)
It was the only conclusion which the very sane and proper mediocrities of Christ's family friends could arrive at in the contemplation of a man and his performances so altogether above them.
Had that man been a stranger, they might have thought better of him, but "Jesus, the carpenter," their own brother, whom they had known from his boyhood, and who had come out and in among them in a quiet familiar way ...
"neither did his brethren believe on him" - Jno. vii. 5.
They afterwards yielded to the overpowering evidence of facts, and identified themselves with the company of his disciples - Acts i. 14.
...At first sight, it seems unaccountable that perfect wisdom and goodness should have been mistaken for insanity. The difficulty softens when we realise to ourselves the process of reasoning by which such a conclusion is arrived at.
The people who thought Christ insane naturally judged by their own views and feelings. Their inner consciousness supplied them with no principle or recognisable motive which could lead to the course Jesus pursued. They could not conceive themselves to act in the way in which Jesus acted. They felt they must be mad before they could do what he did; and therefore they concluded it must be so with him.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 26
30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.
The unforgiveable blasphemy of the Holy Spirit of which they were guilty consisted in attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to another agency.
That the offence should be unpardonable was, in the circumstances, just. It was both against reason, and against the evidence of their senses. It was on a par with the "presumptuous sin" for which there was no forgiveness under the law (Num. xv. 30).
The spirit in both cases was the same -- a spirit of wilful, wanton, presumptuous rebellion against the light -- a spirit which in any case makes the difference between that "sin unto death," and that sin which is not unto death of which John speaks (1 Jno. v. 16). It is this which gives character to the declaration of Paul in Hebrews that
"it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come (a description applicable only to those who were the subjects of the miraculous gifts of the apostolic age) -- if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance" (Heb. vi. 4-6);
and also the statement that
"if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversary" (x. 26).
Much mental torment that might have been spared has been endured in connection with this subject of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Sensitive persons have feared they may have been guilty of the offence without being aware of it. An enlightened apprehension of the subject will shew them that such a case as sinning against the Holy Spirit without being aware of it is not possible; and further, that it is doubtful if the offence is possible at all in our age when the Spirit does not visibly assert itself. The ground of the special responsibility existing in the apostolic age was the evidence.
"If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin" (Jno. xv. 24).
In our day, the evidence has become obscure and difficult of apprehension for the common run of minds. The Bible is truly the work of the Spirit of God, and the man who says it is human literally commits the sin which Jesus says will never be forgiven. But the circumstances are different, and it is questionable if in the circumstances of an era like this, when God's face is hidden, such an offence would be estimated so heinously as in a day when the voice and hand of God were visibly displayed in attestation of His truth.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 21
31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.
Bro Roberts wedding day
The greetings and the socialities - I waited till they should all be past and I should be free to depart and live the life dictated by godliness and common sense. The atmosphere around me was stifling. It was put down to my pride. This was a great mistake. I can humble myself to anything, but I cannot hold communion with a mentality that acts only on man and social trivialities, and that has no affinity for the stupendous facts connected with God and His revealed purpose.
...There is nothing noble in the flesh left to itself. It is petty, insignificant, narrow, cloudy. Only in the things of the Spirit is there that which is noble, sublime, far-reaching, broad, intelligent, interesting, and everlasting. Every man who truly approximates to the spirit and standard of Christ realises for himself the verity of the rule of friendship laid down by Him.
My Days and My Ways Ch 9
32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.
Jesus did not receive the intimation with any great manifestation of respect for his relations according to the flesh, thus conspicuously introduced to notice.
...If mothers and brothers were inside the circle of this relation, well and good; if not, he was not theirs, nor they his. He did not know any man after the flesh. His mother and his brothers were to be found among those who did the will of God. To this doctrine, he gave emphatic enunciation at this time.
...natural relationship was of no force if there were not engrafted upon it the affectionate recognition of God, the loving submission to His will in all things -- of which he himself was the highest example.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 25
33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?
34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
Jesus did not receive the intimation with any great manifestation of respect for his relations according to the flesh, thus conspicuously introduced to notice...
He did not own to the claim implied in the assertion of blood relationship.
In the world, then as now, blood relation was everything: with Jesus, it was nothing outside the special relation he had come to create -- the relation of men to God in reconciliation, love, and obedience. If mothers and brothers were inside the circle of this relation, well and good; if not, he was not theirs, nor they his. He did not know any man after the flesh. His mother and his brothers were to be found among those who did the will of God. To this doctrine, he gave emphatic enunciation at this time...
Did Jesus mean then to ignore the command of God by Moses that father and mother should be honoured, and that near of kin were to be regarded? Nothing could be further from the purpose of him who came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil. He did not mean to undermine the force of any divine law, but rather to enforce the foundation of all law -- viz., the doing of the will of God. He meant to say that where this foundation was absent, no law and no relation had any efficacy.
The Jews were very zealous for human custom and tradition, and for divine enactment only in so far as it was in harmony with these. They were zealous for their distinction as the chosen nation, for circumcision as the token of it: for their laws and customs as its fence and protection, but not zealous of God Himself or His will as such. And, therefore, it came to pass that even the part of their service that was according to the law, was unacceptable: the offering of sacrifices and the holding of feasts, which, as God said by Isaiah, had become intolerable (Isa. i. 11-14).
On the same principle, Jesus taught that natural relationship was of no force if there were not engrafted upon it the affectionate recognition of God, the loving submission to His will in all things -- of which he himself was the highest example.
Nazareth Revisited - In collision with the Pharisees