“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, 'Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.' But He answered and said to them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.'” (Matthew 12.38-40).

Just prior to this exchange between Jesus and His perennial antagonists, the Pharisees, a marvelous event had taken place; many people knew of this event (including the Pharisees). Consider the text in Matthew 12.38 (just quoted) against the backdrop and what had just occurred. “Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, 'Could this be the Son of David?' Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, 'This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.'” (Matthew 12.22-24). There was no disputing what had been done; the evidence was right there before everyone's eyes! The blind and mute man now saw and spoke! The masses witnessed the event and immediately knew that a prophet was among them, perhaps even the Son of David (Messiah). The Pharisees examined the same evidence and concluded, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

There must have been quite a difference in their thought processes to come to such radically different conclusions. One group saw His power as having originated from the very heart of heaven while the other group saw Him as an emissary of Satan himself! One deed and two interpretations of the deed; two diametrically opposed interpretations! There wasn't an argument over what had happened; the blind and mute man now saw and spoke. The argument was over the significance of the facts! To some it was a sign of God at work; to others it was a sign of Satan at work! Herein lies the crux of the problem. There wasn't a need for a sign for indeed, a notable sign had been performed. It was just that the sign proved too much for the Pharisees! Their minds were already made up and the facts only served to cloud their minds. The Pharisees were like the man who said, “Don't confuse me with the facts!”

We will resume this discussion at this point during our next installment. However for now, suppose that someone had said to Jesus at the time of this miracle, “I can't believe in you because there is such a great diversity of opinion concerning you!” What response do you think would have been appropriate? Would the divergence of opinions between the believers and the unbelievers alter the facts of the case? Had you been standing there, would the rift between the witnesses to the miracle have been adequate cause to refuse to believe? The facts are the facts are the facts! The truth is unaltered by any person's reaction to it.

An especially gifted professor used to say, “The truth is the truth and will be the truth regardless of any man's contempt for it or ignorance of it.” Whether one believes Jesus or not has no effect upon the factual nature of the gospel story. Like the Pharisees who charged Him with casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, those who reject the testimony live and act contrary to truth! The Love of the Truth demands better and will not rest until such inequities are righted!

Questions:

1. Why were there two different conclusions about Jesus?

2. Did the conclusions reached change reality?

3. If no one had believed Jesus, would He still have been the Son of God?

4. What does division, differing opinions, intellectual dishonesty and/or ignorance have to do with truth? Does the truth cease to be the truth because of any or all of these?