“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.
(Matthew 12:33 ESV)
Over the past couple of days we’ve seen the Jewish leaders acknowledge Jesus’ miraculous abilities and at the same time claim that those powers came from Satan. Today Jesus exposes their illogical thinking by telling them that they can’t have it both ways. They can’t acknowledge the wonderful and miraculous things He did and at the same time deny His claim to be the Son of God.
A tree is judged by the fruit it produces. So too is a person evaluated by their works. The Pharisees needed to form a consistent opinion about Jesus. They either needed to look at His good works and believe His claim to be God. Or they needed to consider His works to be bad and to continue to claim He worked for Satan.
Even today many people have an inconsistent concept of Jesus. They will acknowledge the He did and said wonderful things. But they will not admit that He was God. But such a conclusion, Jesus tells us, is not valid.
As we learned a few weeks ago, Jesus was either God or He was a liar or He was a crazy man. There is no room for any other opinion. Calling Jesus a “wise man” or a “great teacher” is not enough. Jesus said He was God and He backed up such an audacious claim with miracles. To refute His claim to deity renders calling Him a “great teacher” hypocritical. Would a “great teacher” claim to be God if He wasn’t?
The Pharisees didn’t want to believe that Jesus was God because such a thought conflicted with their predisposed notion of God and of themselves. They could not conceive of a God who was compassionate to everyone, including their enemies. They expected God to conquer Rome and liberate the Jews from their earthly oppressors.
What they didn’t realize was that their greatest enemy was sin. They didn’t realize this because they did not see themselves as sinners. They saw themselves as righteous. They thought that since they were keeping all their own man-made rules (at least on the outside) that they had favor with God and did not need forgiveness. They were wrong.
Sadly, human thinking hasn’t changed much in 2,000 years. People today still think this same way. They may admit that Jesus was a real person who said beautiful things and who helped a lot of people. But they don’t want to admit that they are flawed. They don’t want to admit they are broken. They don’t want to admit that they need forgiveness. And they don’t want to humble themselves in order to receive that forgiveness.
Jesus points out that such thinking is inconsistent. We can’t pick and choose what we believe just to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. We must either accept or dismiss Jesus in His entirety.
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