Jesus’ real family (46-50)
For parallels see Mk 3:31-35 & Lk 8:19-21.
v.46-47 Jesus’ mother and brothers were waiting outside to speak to Jesus. The ESV erroneously places the text of v.47 in a mg. n. As in the parallels, someone tells Jesus that they are outside waiting to speak to him. Luke adds that they could not reach him themselves because of the crowd.
v.48-50 Jesus points to his disciples and says “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus uses the occasion of his physical family showing up to point out the more important spiritual family consisting in those who are in relationship with him by faith and who do the will of the father.
Read Matthew 12:46-50
Return of the unclean spirit (43-45)
Parallel at Lk 11:24-26.
v.43 Continuing the discussion of the evil generation, Jesus describes an unclean spirit leaving a man and looking for rest in arid places. The void in the person must be filled by Christ (Rom 6:15-18).
v.44-45 The evil spirit, not finding rest, returns to the man and brings with it seven demons more wicked than itself. The final condition of the man being worse than the first. Judgment would befall that generation for no repenting and rejecting the Messiah.
Read Matthew 12:43-45
The sign of Jonah (38-42)
For parallel see Lk 11:16,29-32.
v.38-40 The scribes and Pharisees want to see a sign from Jesus to prove his authority. Given all the signs Jesus was performing, I’m not sure what kind of sign they wanted. Jesus answers that an evil and adulterous generation (they had become unfaithful to God) wants a sign but the only sign they will get is the sign of the prophet Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights (Jon 1:17). The son of man, Jesus says, will be in the heart of the earth (the grave) three days and three nights. He is of course referring to his burial and resurrection 3 days later.
v.41 The people of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching (Jon 3:6-10). This of course confirms the historicity of the account of Jonah. Something greater than Jonah was in their midst and so they would be condemned for their unbelief.
v.42 The queen of Sheba would condemn that generation because she traveled great distances to hear Solomon’s wisdom (1 Kgs 10:1-13) and something greater than Solomon was present (Jesus).
Read Matthew 12:38-42
A tree is known by its fruit (33-37)
See parallel at Lk 6:43-45.
v.33-37 Words are important because they come out of the heart and will testify for or against us in that heavenly court. A tree is known by its fruit (i.e., a person is known by his words), good or bad. The Pharisees were bad trees in need of conversion. It is kinda scary to think we must give an account of the day of judgment for every word we speak. We certainly must be careful what we say. Words reflect the true condition of your heart.
Read Matthew 12:33-37
Blasphemy against the Spirit
Parallels at Lk 11:14-23 and Mk 3:22-30, see also Mt 9:32-34.
v.22-23 Jesus healed a demon possessed man who was blind and mute. The people were amazed and wondered if this man (Jesus) could be the long-awaited Messiah (son of David). This is another fulfillment of Is 35:5-6 (the eyes of the blind shall be opened, etc.) and one that is readily verifiable.
v.24 Even in the face of undeniable miracles the pharisees refused to believe. They blasphemously attribute the healing to Beelzebub, the prince of demons (i.e., Satan). Contrast this with the demon’s testimony that Jesus was the Son of God (Mt 8:29).
v.25-26 Satan does not fight against Satan; otherwise his kingdom would not stand. Jesus acknowledges that there is a spiritual world where Satan exists. The Pharisees acknowledge that demons can possess people and work supernatural things through them.
v.27-28 It is not clear what is meant by the Pharisees’ sons casting out demons. Perhaps some ritualistic ceremony was performed by some of the Pharisees’ followers. Ellison (ZBC) indicates that some prominent rabbis served as exorcists. The crowds were amazed at Jesus commanding demons out with a word (indicating that the Pharisees’ followers were not as successful). But if it is instead by the Spirit of God that Jesus drives out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon them.
v.29 One cannot plunder a strong man’s house without first binding the strong man (like i.e., Satan). This further indicates the error in the Pharisees thinking and indicates that Jesus is stronger than Satan (so he can bind him). Jesus’ ministry was not hindered by Satan because he could not hinder it. Jesus came to release those under Satan’s power of darkness.
v.30 There is no neutral ground, either you’re for Jesus or your working against God and his plan. But see Mk 9:38-41.
v.31-32 These verses address the unforgivable sin: which is refusing to accept the unambiguous and clear work of God and attributing it to Satan. Such sin will not be forgiven.
Read Matthew 12:22-32
The Hope of all the world.
v.15-16 Aware of the Jews plot on his life, Jesus left that area. In another area he healed the sick but asked that the people not reveal who he was. Jesus, knowing that his time had not yet come, wanted to avoid further escalation of the conflict with the Jews for a time.
v.17-21 Matthew quotes Is 42:1-4 to show that Jesus is fulfilling specific OT prophecies regarding the Messiah. The Christ will bring justice and hope to the world (including the gentiles).
Read Matthew 12:15-21
Healing a man on the Sabbath.
Parallel passages at Mk 3:1-6 and Lk 6:6-11.
v.9 Having had the confrontation with the Pharisees in the grain field, Jesus went into their synagogue. Jesus frequently taught in the Jew’s synagogues on the Sabbath.
v.10 Trying to trap Jesus, the Pharisees asked him if it was lawful to work by healing on the Sabbath, there was a man present with a withered hand (probably paralyzed/shrunk). The Pharisees’ rule was that healing was permitted on the Sabbath only if life was in danger. The rule, of course, had in mind doctors coming to do work and not miraculous healing. Their rule went beyond what was required in God’s law. Healing on the Sabbath was a common source of conflict with the religious authorities (see e.g., Jn 5:7-9). The Pharisees didn’t care about the poor man’s withered hand, only that their rules were followed in the smallest detail.
v.11–12 Jesus reply’s with the illustration of a sheep falling into a pit (or ravine) on the Sabbath. Would they not work to free their sheep? Of course they would. A man is much more valuable than the sheep and so it is therefore permissible (lawful) to do good by healing the man on the Sabbath.
v.13 Jesus commanded the man to stretch out his hand; when he did his hand was completely restored and made whole.
v.14 This infuriated the Pharisees, and they plotted how they might kill Jesus. The law would of course prohibit such activity.
For Christians, following Mt 11:28-30 is our fulfilment of the Sabbath requirements (rest in Jesus).
Read Matthew 12:9-14
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath
Parallel passages: Lk 6:1-5 & Mk 2:23-28. See also Dt 23:25.
v.1-2 At an appropriate time, when Jesus was walking through grain fields on a Sabbath, his disciples were plucking heads of grain to eat. The Pharisees accused them of violating the Sabbath.
v.3-5 Jesus answered by recalling the story of David (1 Sm 21:1-9) eating the showbread in the temple (which was unlawful). And also the priests work in the temple on the Sabbath (Nm 28:9) yet are guiltless.
v.6-8 But, Jesus pointed out, something greater than the temple is present (himself). If they understood that God desires mercy not sacrifice (Hos 6:6) they would not have blamed the guiltless: “For the Son of Man is Lord (even) of the Sabbath.” The Pharisees imposed a burdensome yoke (Mt 11:29-30) on the people without compassion. Christ is the fulfillment of the Sabbath and in him we have complete rest (in the finished work of the cross).
Read Matthew 12:1-8
Rest for the weary and burdened.
Parallel passage for v.25-27 at Lk 10:21-22.
v.25-26 Jesus offers a prayer of thanksgiving to God for revealing the kingdom to the childlike rather than those who think they know something. The kingdom of heaven requires faith and humility. Only those who receive the kingdom as a little child will enter in, Lk 18:17.
v.27 No one has seen God the Father except God the Son (Jn 1:18 and recall Mt 3:17). We are told that the Son will reveal his Father to those he chooses (those who put their trust in him). The Father has committed all things into the hand of the son (see Jn 3:35 and Mt 28:18). “All things” speaks of both authority and knowledge.
v.28-30 Great multitudes came to Jesus with their brokenness and he healed them (Mt 15:30). Here Jesus tells the hearers to come to him to (1) find rest (receive salvation), (2) to learn from him (the yoke of discipleship), and (3) serve with him (his yoke is easy, 1 Jn 5:3). Those who come to him he will not cast out (Jn 6:37).
Read Matthew 11:25-30
Woe to unrepentant cities.
Parallel passage at Lk 10:13-15.
v.20 Jesus denounces several cities, in close proximity to one another, because they had been given the light of the gospel and had seen (most of) Jesus’ mighty works but remained unrepentant. With knowledge of the truth comes greater responsibility.
v.21-22 “Woe” is used to express grief and regret but in this context also signifies judgment. Chorazin and Bethsaida were cities near Capernaum on the north end of the Sea of Galilee. Your response to Jesus’ message is what will determine your eternal fate. We are told that had the miracles been done in Tyre and Sidon, those cities would have repented in sack cloth and ashes. The residents of Chorazin and Bethsaida no doubt thought they were God’s people, but it is not people who think they are good enough that will be welcomed to God’s kingdom, but rather those who receive the gospel and repent of their sins.
v.23-24 In these verses, Capernaum is said to be brought low (though they perhaps thought themselves exalted). If the miracles done in Capernaum were done in Sodom (the epitome of a “city of sin”) it would have remained to this day. It will be more bearable at the judgment for Sodom than for Capernaum who missed her great opportunity.
Read Matthew 11:20-24