Matthew 12:43-45 – The Return of the Unclean Spirit


Matthew 12:43-45


Jesus continues to condemn the scribes and the Pharisees by telling a strange parable of unclean spirits who return to their former habitations.


The parable of the unclean spirit’s return continues Jesus’ theme of rejecting the importance of signs in his ministry (see Matthew 12:38-42 – The Hopelessness of Signs). While his healings impress crowds, Jesus knows that in the end, they are self-defeating. Those whom he casts demons out of turn around and prepare themselves for the demon’s return. They go so far as to “sweep their hearts and put them in order” so that eight unclean spirits can live there instead of just one. 

This parable serves as a striking illustration of Jesus’ discourse on the good and bad fruit. An evil tree that has an unclean spirit cast out of it will not fill up with good things. Rather, it will wait around to be filled with even more unclean spirits.