12:1-8 The Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking the Law. But they violated nothing more than rabbinical tradition. The Law allowed Picking grain by hand at anytime under God’s law (Deut 23:25).The Pharisees defined “work” to include “harvesting” even a handful of grain. Their rules denied food to the starving every Saturday. Jesus makes 5 clear arguments in defense.
1. Only the priests were allowed to eat the show bread, Lev 8:31; 10:14; 22:12-16; Exo 29:31-34. David broke the law by eating it, yet the Pharisees would never think of condemning David. Jesus confronts them with there prejudiced duplicity.
2. By Pharisaical definition, the priests themselves desecrated the Sabbath by working for the Lord (Lev 24). The disciples were hungry from working for the Lord. Why did the Pharisees allow circumcision on the Sabbath, John 7:22-23? It was the Lord’s work.
3. The Greek word for one is a neuter pronoun. It could be translated something. If so, the “something” greater was the kingdom, and the preaching which brought it to fruition. This should not be stopped by man’s rule. If it means one greater, that would be Jesus. Same results.
4. Jesus showed in v. 7 that the Pharisees did not understand the concept of mercy, 23:23. It was not attention to religious detail Jesus was condemning but rather merciless, wrongful application of scripture.
5. Finally, Jesus, as the Messiah, was Master over the Sabbath and in the best position to interpret whether the Sabbath was being broken. The account in Mark 2:23-27 further points out, the Sabbath was designed to serve man and not the other way around. The specifications given in God’s Word were sufficient to determine how the Sabbath should be observed without man’s interpretation.
God’s word is not obscure, complex or subjective. This text does not teach that it was okay for God’s law to be broken under certain circumstance, like feeding the hungry. Jesus did not break God’s law and would not have defended His disciples for doing so, 5:19.
12:9-14 Rabbinical law permitted applying medicine on the Sabbath only if it was a matter of life or death. All other healing was strictly forbidden. Common sense dictates assisting a helpless creature on the Sabbath, how much more a human being. Having the ability to do good gives one responsibility, creates a duty to do good, regardless of what day it is. The rage in their hearts blinded the eyes of the Pharisees to the act of kindness He had just performed. He exposed their hypocrisy and they can think of nothing but His demise.
12:15-21 This is the 4th healing section of Matthew and the third time Jesus told certain believers not to spread the word of His deeds. He will say it 2 more times (8:4; 9:30; 12:16; 16:20; 17:9). Refer back to the notes on 9:27-34. The quote of Isaiah 42:1-4 is the longest OT quote in Matthew. After Jesus leads justice to victory, than His message will be loudly proclaimed.
12:22-29 The absurdity of the Pharisees’ accusation shows their desperation. The invisible realm of Satan cannot be physically defined, yet Jesus is still able to refute their argument. Why would Satan drive out his own demons? How do we know the Pharisees were not driving out demons with demonic assistance? How could Jesus remove the demons unless He first restrained Satan? Nothing Satan or the Pharisees did was going to stop Jesus.
12:30-37 There is no neutrality in this spiritual war. We are on Satan’s side or Jesus’ side. The Pharisees committed the unforgivable sin. They watched Jesus perform a miracle by the Holy Spirit. Then, not only did they deny it, but they even tried to attribute it to Satan. That is unforgivable.
12:38-42 The Pharisees are incorrigible. Now they want a miraculous sign? Jesus compared Jonah’s 3 days in the fish with the 3 days He was about to spend in the grave. His resurrection would be the ultimate sign of His Messiah-ship. The statement three days and three nights does not have to mean a full 72 hours. Study Gen 7:12-17; 1 Sam 30:12-13; 1 Kng 12:5,12; Esth 4:16, 5:1. Jesus was crucified on Friday and resurrected on Sunday. By Hebrew idiom, this was recognized as 3 days (Mat 27:63-64).
12:43-45 If you clean up your life by removing the bad, but fail to replace it with good you create a void. Eventually something is going to fill that void (Eph 4:28-29).
12:46-50 At first, Jesus’ family did not believe He was the Messiah. Jesus’ spiritual family took precedence over His physical family. Later on Jesus’ family joined with His followers.
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