53When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, 54lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
1Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. 2Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 3Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
4"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. 5But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. 7But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
8"And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; 9but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. 10And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say."
It seems like we will continue with the Jesus Mean and Wild theme for at least one more devotional.
Let it be known: Jesus was not universally embraced. Real hostility against Jesus is openly voiced in this narrative. The scribes and Pharisees can't wait to get their hands on this pretender Messiah. They are cross-examining him, setting theological traps in an attempt to ensnare him. Jesus is not one to back down however. He confronts the evil thoughts and words of the religious authorities with his own warnings. He tells the crowd to watch out for the hypocrisy of these religious elites. He tells the crowd not be be afraid of these powerful religious leaders, even if they have the power to sentence you to death.
There is only one person they need to fear -- Jesus himself. Jesus speaks indirectly but the reference to the one who has the authority to cast people into hell is none other than himself -- the Coming Judge.
Then Jesus says a curious thing: "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven" (Luke 12:10). The curious comment is not a non sequitur. The background for the comment is the religious leaders' persistent rejection of Jesus and the Message of God's Kingdom. The background is their attack on Jesus and attributing of Jesus' signs and wonders as the work of Satan and not of the Holy Spirit. The particular "blasphemy" is in point of fact just this attribution: that which the Spirit is doing is said to be what Satan is doing. And the cost of this sin is that it will not be forgiven.
"The Unpardonable Sin" has been a topic of some, if not occasionally intense, discussion. What is this unpardonable or unforgivable sin? The majority opinion is this: a persistent resistance to the Spirit and the saving good news of Jesus. So the unpardonable-ness is not something added but the unpardonable-ness is merely descriptive of the person who persistently resists. A minority opinion is John Piper's who describes this sin as:
The unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an act of resistance which belittles the Holy Spirit so grievously that he withdraws for ever with his convicting power so that we are never able to repent and be forgiven.
Whichever way you cut it, persistently rejecting the Spirit in the Good News of Jesus is not a light matter. Persistent resistance to God's salvation is a fearful thing.
In our closing prayer, let's pray the "Jesus Prayer" which has been prayed for centuries in the Orthodox Church:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
Lord Jesus, we lift up to you all our family members and friends who do not know you truly in your identity as Lord, Savior, King, Friend, Leader, Shepherd, and Lover. By the power of the Holy Spirit we pray for their salvation, for their coming to know you in ways that connect with where they are. Have mercy on them and on all of us. In Your Name, Amen.