THE TWO REACTIONS
As they were going away, look you, they brought to him a dumb man who was demon-possessed; and, when the demon had been expelled from him, he spoke. And the crowds were amazed. “Nothing like this,” they said, “was ever seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out the demons by the power of the prince of the demons.”
There are few passages which show better than this the impossibility of an attitude of neutrality towards Jesus. Here we have the picture of two reactions to him. The attitude of the crowds was amazed wonder; the attitude of the Pharisees was virulent hatred. It must always remain true that what the eye sees depends upon what the heart feels.
The crowds looked on Jesus with wonder, because they were simple people with a crying sense of need; and they saw that in Jesus their need could be supplied in the most astonishing way. Jesus will always appear wonderful to the man with a sense of need; and the deeper the sense of need the more wonderful Jesus will appear to be.
The Pharisees saw Jesus as one who was in league with all the powers of evil. They did not deny his wondrous powers; but they attributed them to his complicity with the prince of the devils. This verdict of the Pharisees was due to certain attitudes of mind.
(i) They were too set in their ways to change. As we have seen, so far as they were concerned not one word could be added or subtracted from the Law. To them all the great things belonged to the past. To them to change a tradition or a convention was a deadly sin. Anything that was new was wrong. And when Jesus came with a new interpretation of what real religion was, they hated him, as they had hated the prophets long ago.
(ii) They were too proud in their self-satisfaction to submit. If Jesus was right, they were wrong. The Pharisees were so well satisfied with themselves that they saw no need to change; and they hated anyone who wished to change them. Repentance is the gate whereby all men must enter the Kingdom; and repentance means the recognition of the error of our ways, the realization that in Christ alone there is life, and the surrender to him and to his will and power, whereby alone we can be changed.
(iii) They were too prejudiced to see. Their eyes were so blinded by their own ideas that they could not see in Jesus Christ the truth and the power of God.
The man with a sense of need will always see wonders in Jesus Christ, The man who is so set in his ways that he will not change, the man who is so proud in his self-righteousness that he cannot submit, the man who is so blinded by his prejudices that he cannot see, will always resent and hate and seek to eliminate him.
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