The Pharisees must have been smarting from their verbal defeat by Jesus. Jesus had shown that their evil explanation of His miracles – that He was casting out demons by the power of Satan – was both absurd and contradictory. His arguments should have moved them to reconsider their position, but they did not, of course. They hated Jesus, so rather than altering their views, they merely came at Hm from another direction, demanding a miraculous sign.
His steadfast love, His covenantal, loyal, merciful love, His committed love, His complete forgiveness of all our sins is so staggering and so vast that it can only be explained by two illustrations of infinity. These are the most perfect illustrations you could find in human language, which isn’t surprising since the Holy Spirit is the Author.
This has been very good preaching, and since it has been directed at the Pharisees and their particular sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, we are tempted to lean back and merely urge Jesus on. “Preach it, brother!” we might say. But Jesus’ words are not only sobering for the Pharisees and any others who may have sinned in a particularly grievous way. They are sobering for us too, since in the last verses of this section Jesus speaks to people exactly like us.
Apart from His works of healing, Jesus’ ministry consisted of two things: teaching and preaching. Teaching and preaching are not the same thing. Teaching is instruction; it has to do with content, and it is primary. Preaching contains instruction and is based on it, but it is more than mere instruction. It is also a passionate declaration of what the hearers need to do with the truth they have been given, and it calls for that response. True preaching is the point at which sound teaching becomes personal.
Statue of Josephus in Germany by Bridge in Wurzburg. After receiving freedom from slavery by Emperor Vespasian he took the emperor’s name, Flavius, thus becoming Flavius Josephus. Josephus was a soldier in the Roman/Jewish war. He was an eyewitness to Rome’s First-Century conquest of Judea and would become an indispensable part to a proper understanding of Jewish thought during the time of Christ..
“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” It was certainly true of the Pharisees in this story (Matthew 12.1-21). Mark says they were silenced (3.4). Yes, but not convinced. In fact, the situation grew worse. Rather than being merely unconvinced, they were determined to kill Jesus. 12.14).