The Kingdom Has Come upon You

Matthew has described Jesus through the quotation from Isaiah that speaks of his gentleness. He will not break a bruised reed. But he goes on in Matthew 12:22–32 to warn you: don’t confuse gentleness with weakness.

Recognize the Spirit’s working in Christ. The Spirit empowered Christ for his work. Matthew presents the healing of the blind and mute demon possessed man briefly, and then focuses on the reaction and Jesus’ response. Recognize the messianic implications of the healing. Some were astonished, and asked whether this couldn’t be the Son of David, could he? (The question reflects perplexity.) Christ had been baptized with the Holy Spirit at the beginning of his public ministry, Matthew 3;16,17. His miracles, especially the miracles of casting out demons, are manifestations of the presence of the messianic kingdom, Acts 10:38. Some deny these messianic implications, instead attributing Christ’s work to the power of Satan. Jesus shows that this position is inherently self-contradictory. “Jesus ascribed all His power and grace, the gra­cious words, the saving acts, to the possession of the Spirit (Matt. 12:28; Lk. 4:18; Acts 10:36–38). And, through qualifying Him in this manner for achieving His Messianic task, the Spirit laid the foundation for the great Pentecostal bestowal of the Spirit afterwards, for this gift was dependent on the finished work.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 345)

Acknowledge the powerful working of the Spirit. To attribute the Spirit’s work to Satan is unforgivable. Other sins, though great, are forgiven. This sin involves a height degree of knowledge, and a self-conscious rejection and unbelief. “Nothing is outside of his [Jesus’] dominion. The wonders he performs are accomplished in the energy and by the presence of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt. 12:28). That is why they serve as signs of the coming messianic age in which the Spirit’s power will be full manifested and all nature will be healed…. All this is evidence that the promised Coming One is in fact Jesus and that in him the Spirit has come in power. This helps to explain why, while blasphemy against the Son of Man may be forgiven, that against the Spirit will not. The latter involved not just a personal reaction to Jesus, but a rejection of the Spirit’s ministry and therefore of the evidence that the kingdom has come and then age has dawned (cf. Mt. 12:25–29; Lk. 10:21). (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, pages 50–51) (If you’re worried that you might have committed the unforgivable sin, that very concern is good evidence that you have not.) This is not the only sin. Every sin deserves God’s wrath. Experience the powerful working of Christ through his Spirit. The passage is not a paradigm for exorcisms. There is something unique about this situation. The power of the Spirit did triumph in Christ’s work. That power continues to triumph as he brings conversion, obedience (see v. 33), and joy. Pentecost is the consummation of the Spirit’s activity in the kingdom. But Pentecost, as much as it is a once-for-all event, has profound implications for your life as a believer.

As you appreciate the significance of Jesus’ miracle, submit to the King! Choose the right side! The charge that Jesus is acting in league with satanic powers is clearly false. Satan’s kingdom would self-destruct if the charge were true. The Scriptures are the history of the two kingdoms in conflict. The crucial battle of that conflict took place in the person and work of Christ, see v. 29, the parable of the strong man. The reference to the strong man looks back to Isaiah’s prophecy that speaks, not only of the restoration from captivity, but to the greater liberation it anticipates—the coming of the messianic age in all its glory and power. The conflict between the two kingdoms continues today. You are in one kingdom or the other. Your actions build up one or the other kingdom.

What does this mean for you? Live as one upon whom the kingdom has come. The kingdom of God has come upon you. That expression includes a note of tension. This is an invasion. The kingdom of God triumphs. Satan has met his crucial battle—and failed. While the conflict continues, you have the Spirit, poured out by the risen Lord. You have the power to serve the King. You have been given the desire to obey. Live all of life to God’s glory. There is not one square inch of the universe that doesn’t belong to King Jesus.

An invasion has taken place. The King of kings, working through his powerful Holy Spirit, has brought the kingdom of God upon you. He summons you to repent and enter it—or to oppose it, and be crushed.