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Whoever Is Not With Me Is Against Me

Jesus, Matt 12Can you imagine if I answered an argument with, “Hey man, if you’re not with me, you’re against me.” What would you say? You’d likely say I was crazy, or being unfair, or ridiculous – that I have no basis upon which to make such a claim. And you’d be right. And yet, that’s what Jesus said.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. Everyone freaked! They were like, “Man! Could this be the Son of David!” That is, could this be the promised rescuer that the Bible talks about over and over – the one promised to come to put all things right?

After all, here Jesus was putting this poor guy (who was a wreck) right.

Now, the Pharisees (a group of folks zealous for the Torah lifestyle) saw what happened and didn’t like it – or Jesus. They said he healed by the power of the devil. Jesus, using basic logic said if one casts out devils by the power of the devil then that’s a house that can’t stand – it’s divided – it will implode – and thus is no power at all. Moreover, Jesus adds, if I heal by the devil, then how have you guys done it in the past? Are you in league with the devil too, hmm?

One would think that this argument would suffice, but in typical Jesus fashion, he keeps going using if/then logic. He said, “…if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” That is, the King of the Kingdom (Jesus, the one anointed by God’s Spirit) has come, in the flesh. He’s come to battle the dark forces that enslave us. This is essentially the Gospel – the Good News. Everything has changed – there is a new world order at hand.

Thus, he then goes on to use an analogy of a home break in to help them get his point. Jesus, the strongman, breaks into Satan’s domain and binds him up. Jesus is now plundering. He is healing all the damage that was never part of the original plan. Jesus has ushered in God’s promise – God’s rule. God is now in charge. The kingdom has not been fully consummated (that’s to come), but the decisive battle has been won and we live in abounding hope, full of the Spirit, knowing that victory is a given.

Thus, as only one who has been given all authority can say: Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted


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  1. Keith Hardy says:

    Sorry, but I think you have overstated your case. The Pharisees in question were clearly aligned against Jesus. Yet Jesus clearly states that those who seek to do good in his name are “for him” when he defends the “non-disciple” who is healing in his name. (Mark 9:35-45) In a world where so many people of good will are alienated from the fractured church because of petty differences in minor points of doctrine, I think we need to send a strong message that we can make “common cause” with many people, rather than labeling them as “against me”. Perhaps the “against me” message is most appropriate for those who are in power and control our denominations and insist on complete agreement before they can acknowledge that we may actually all be serving the world in the name of Jesus.

    • Ted Olson says:

      Thanks so much for your note, Keith. Yes, yes, yes – we can’t be fractured over minor points of doctrine, and demonitionalism is really ugly, and we do have lots of opportunities to practice common grace. I’m not sure about overstating the case of Jesus’ authority though. I think we could add quite a bit more on that point. The point in this post (perhaps a bit muddled), is that only Jesus could ever actually say, “Whoever is not with me, is against me,” and back it up (as He ushers in God’s rule). It’s an amazing statement – it’s jaw-dropping! It must have infuriated the Pharisees and astounded anyone listening or even hearing such a statement. Jesus’ news (his announcement) is clear – the time has come, stop doing what your doing, God’s put his plan into action through me, follow me. No one can sit on the fence when it comes to Jesus – he left no room for that. That said, we can’t go around saying, “Hey man, you in or out?” Rather, through patience, grace, and humility we can invite people to “come and see” – and hopefully, as you mentioned, they don’t wander into a church that’s infighting with other brothers and sisters in Christ from other orthodox denominations.

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