“And some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This fellow blasphemes’” (Matthew 9:3).
To charge someone with blasphemy was truly a serious statement for one to make in the religious culture in which Jesus ministered. But that was the outlandish accusation against Him brought by the scribes because they rejected His claim to forgive sins (Luke 5:21; cf. Mark 2:7). They knew that forgiveness comes only from God (Isa. 43:25; Mic. 7:18–19), but because they didn’t believe Jesus was God’s Son, they had to conclude He was blaspheming.
Unlike the paralytic and his friends, the scribes felt no need for forgiveness—they considered themselves already righteous. They rejected Jesus’ authority to forgive and further believed it wrong for someone simply to ask in faith that he or she be forgiven. For the Jewish leaders, real forgiveness came only by self-righteous and legalistic efforts to earn it.
The scribes’ furious opposition to Jesus was part of a growing pattern of persecution of Him by the establishment—a situation that led to His death. The Jews themselves, ironically, were guilty of blaspheming their Messiah when they accused Him of being satanic: “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons” (Matt. 9:34).
Every miracle that proved who Jesus was served only to harden the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees and drive them further from belief and repentance. We can thank God that His Spirit spared us from such a condition, and pray always that our hearts remain soft toward Him.
Has anything occurred in your life lately to cause you to doubt God’s goodness or feel unsure about His faithfulness? Why is such a conclusion always incorrect? How can you guard yourself against being subject to this kind of spiritual confusion?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610