Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 12:30 (Holman) “Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and
anyone who does not gather with Me scatters.”
We are considering one of the most stellar retorts in the history of public debate. In Jesus, the Pharisees met more than their match. They said He cast out demons by Satan’s power. His devastating rejoinder tore their argument to shreds.
He proved their claim to be illogical (no house divided against itself will stand), inconsistent (you claim your people perform exorcisms by God’s power), impossible (God’s kingdom has come; no other conclusion is logical), and inconceivable (burglars don’t receive help from a homeowner they’re robbing).
Jesus now showed their argument to be enmity. The Pharisees may have wanted the crowd to think their refusal to follow Christ was merely a theological disagreement, but Jesus showed it to be a thinly veiled hostility.
People give varied reasons for not following Jesus. Some are too cowardly, hearing in their hearts the cackle of skeptics laughing. Others fear commitment. Dreading what might be expected of them, they want to control their own destiny.
Some are kept from the kingdom by a selfish desire to be left alone. They want to avoid anything that upsets their equilibrium or is controversial. The very act of having to make a decision is disturbing, unnerving, bothersome to them.
People give these and other reasons for their unbelief, but whatever their excuse, unbelievers rarely see their rejection of Jesus as terribly serious. They consider commitment to Him, or the lack thereof, an issue of minor consequence.
They seldom say they are anti-Christ, but rather view themselves as neutral. Jesus’ words in our text shatter this myth. To reject Jesus is enmity against Him.
With regard to Jesus, indifference is opposition. His claims are exclusive. In Him the lines are drawn. As the magnet of the ages, Jesus draws or drives away (Robertson), lures or repels, impelling with inward or outward force. A life floating parallel to His is impossible. Neutrality is not an option.
Jesus spoke plainly. “Anyone who is not with Me is against Me.” This points to inward will, choosing in the innermost self, the real being. “Anyone who does not gather with Me scatters.” This refers to outward acts, our use of energy.
Jesus’ chief aim in our text was to show the wide breach between Him and Satan. They are not in collusion, but far apart. In eternity past, the devil made a choice to be not with Christ, but against Him. As a result, instead of helping Jesus the Good Shepherd gather, Satan is the wolf who scatters and devours the sheep.
There could never be a secret deal between Jesus and Satan. The rupture is too wide. They at no time work together, but oppose each other in everything.
This gap between Jesus and Satan is the ultimate dividing line for all humanity. Each individual is forced to choose to line up on one side or the other.
As a Good Shepherd, Jesus gathers sheep to Himself. All who inwardly commit to be with Him share outwardly His work of gathering people to His fold.
All who choose not to be with Jesus are against Him. They claim to be neutral but in actual fact act like Satan. They prove this condition of their heart by their joining Satan in his work of not helping in Jesus’ mission to gather the lost.
When confronted with the claims of Christ, the first decision an unbeliever has to make is whether he or she will be with or against Him. To be with Jesus means to inwardly commit to love Him supremely, to draw near Him, to yield life totally to Him through unconditional surrender of the will.
Until we give Christ our hearts, we have given Him nothing. Unconditional surrender entails holding back absolutely nothing. Jesus will accept nothing less.
This total submission, unconditional surrender, is essential to our knowing God. In the overall scheme of salvation, God the Father sent His Son, God the Son died on the cross, God the Spirit woos us. The only part left to us in the plan of salvation is to decide for or against Jesus. If we do not believe in Him, do not yield to Him as Lord, we reject the only piece we can contribute to our salvation.
Once we choose to follow Jesus, to be with Him, we prove the genuineness of our inward commitment by what we do outwardly, especially, based on our text, with regard to how we feel and act toward those outside Christ.
Jesus’ whole purpose in coming to Earth was to gather wayward sheep into the fold. In the home of a Jewish internal revenue service agent, Jesus clearly stated, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Our duty is to join Him in this endeavor.
For a believer, as years go by, it is easy to forget what it felt like to be lost. For many of us, being lost is a memory almost lost. Remember, each of us was at one time outside the fold of safety. We were disoriented, wandering aimlessly, but the Holy Spirit and someone else corralled us in. My “someone else” was my dad.
Now that we believers are in the shelter, we need to be the “someone else” for someone else. The Holy Spirit expects the gathered to help gather with Jesus.
As believers, it is not enough not to do bad. We have to do positive good, especially in this area of gathering with Jesus our Good Shepherd. If we do not help, we hinder, leaving the lost shepherd-less and scattered, easy prey for Satan.
Are we helping Christ gather? Are we praying and planning ways to share the Gospel with unbelievers? Do we know the spiritual condition of those we deal with daily? How did we do this year on mission trips? Did we do something to push back some darkness somewhere? Is a lost sheep in the fold due to our effort?
Today I want to do for someone else what Dad did for me, perform the role of “someone else” in your life. As the Holy Spirit woos you inwardly, I appeal to you outwardly. Come across the dividing line. Cross over to Jesus’ side.