Matthew 12

1 One Shabbat during that time, Yeshua was walking through some wheat fields. His talmidim were hungry, so they began picking heads of grain and eating them.
2 On seeing this, the P'rushim said to him, "Look! Your talmidim are violating Shabbat!"
3 But he said to them, "Haven't you ever read what David did when he and those with him were hungry?
4 He entered the House of God and ate the Bread of the Presence!" -- which was prohibited, both to him and to his companions; it is permitted only to the cohanim.
5 "Or haven't you read in the Torah that on Shabbat the cohanim profane Shabbat and yet are blameless?
6 I tell you, there is in this place something greater than the Temple!
7 If you knew what `I want compassion rather than animal-sacrifice' meant, you would not condemn the innocent.
8 For the Son of Man is Lord of Shabbat!"
9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue.
10 A man there had a shriveled hand. Looking for a reason to accuse him of something, they asked him, "Is healing permitted on Shabbat?"
11 But he answered, "If you have a sheep that falls in a pit on Shabbat, which of you won't take hold of it and lift it out?
12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore, what is permitted on Shabbat is to do good." Then to the man he said, "Hold out your hand." As he held it out, it
13 became restored, as sound as the other one.
14 But the P'rushim went out and began plotting how they might do away with Yeshua.
15 Aware of this, he left that area. Many people followed him; and he healed them all
16 but warned them not to make him known.
17 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Yesha`yahu the prophet,
18 "Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will announce justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not fight or shout, no one will hear his voice in the streets;
20 he will not snap off a broken reed or snuff out a smoldering wick until he has brought justice through to victory.
21 In him the Gentiles will put their hope."
22 Then some people brought him a man controlled by demons who was blind and mute; and Yeshua healed him, so that he could both speak and see.
23 The crowds were astounded and asked, "This couldn't be the Son of David, could it?"
24 But when the P'rushim heard of it, they said, "It is only by Ba`al-Zibbul" -- the ruler of the demons -- "that this man drives out demons."
25 However, knowing what they were thinking, Yeshua said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not survive.
26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself; so how can his kingdom survive?
27 Besides, if I drive out demons by Ba`al-Zibbul, by whom do your people drive them out? So, they will be your judges!
28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you!
29 "Or again, how can someone break into a strong man's house and make off with his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? After that he can ransack his house.
30 "Those who are not with me are against me, and those who do not gather with me are scattering.
31 Because of this, I tell you that people will be forgiven any sin and blasphemy, but blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh will not be forgiven.
32 One can say something against the Son of Man and be forgiven; but whoever keeps on speaking against the Ruach HaKodesh will never be forgiven, neither in the `olam hazeh nor in the `olam haba.
33 "If you make a tree good, its fruit will be good; and if you make a tree bad, its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.
34 You snakes! How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what overflows from the heart.
35 The good person brings forth good things from his store of good, and the evil person brings forth evil things from his store of evil.
36 Moreover, I tell you this: on the Day of Judgment people will have to give account for every careless word they have spoken;
37 for by your own words you will be acquitted, and by your own words you will be condemned."
38 At this some of the Torah-teachers said, "Rabbi, we want to see a miraculous sign from you."
39 He replied, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign? No! None will be given to it but the sign of the prophet Yonah.
40 For just as Yonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea-monster,f so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the depths of the earth.
41 The people of Ninveh will stand up at the Judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they turned from their sins to God when Yonah preached, but what is here now is greater than Yonah.
42 The Queen of the South will stand up at the Judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Shlomo, but what is here now is greater than Shlomo.
43 "When an unclean spirit comes out of a person, it travels through dry country seeking rest and does not find it.
44 Then it says to itself, `I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house standing empty, swept clean and put in order.
45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they come and live there -- so that in the end, the person is worse off than he was before. This is how it will be for this wicked generation."
46 He was still speaking to the crowd when his mother and brothers appeared outside, asking to talk with him.
48 But to the one who had informed him he replied, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"
49 Pointing to his talmidim, he said, "Look! Here are my mother and my brothers!
50 Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants, that person is my brother and sister and mother."

Matthew 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Jesus defends his disciples for plucking corn on the sabbath day. (1-8) Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the sabbath. (9-13) The malice of the Pharisees. (14-21) Jesus heals a demoniac. (22-30) Blasphemy of the Pharisees. (31,32) Evil words proceed from an evil heart. (33-37) The scribes and Pharisees reproved for seeking a sign. (38-45) The disciples of Christ are his nearest relations. (46-50)

Verses 1-8 Being in the corn-fields, the disciples began to pluck the ears of corn: the law of God allowed it, ( Deuteronomy 23:25 ) . This was slender provision for Christ and his disciples; but they were content with it. The Pharisees did not quarrel with them for taking another man's corn, but for doing it on the sabbath day. Christ came to free his followers, not only from the corruptions of the Pharisees, but from their unscriptural rules, and justified what they did. The greatest shall not have their lusts indulged, but the meanest shall have their wants considered. Those labours are lawful on the sabbath day which are necessary, and sabbath rest is to froward, not to hinder sabbath worship. Needful provision for health and food is to be made; but when servants are kept at home, and families become a scene of hurry and confusion on the Lord's day, to furnish a feast for visitors, or for indulgence, the case is very different. Such things as these, and many others common among professors, are to be blamed. The resting on the sabbath was ordained for man's good, ( Deuteronomy 5:14 ) . No law must be understood so as to contradict its own end. And as Christ is the Lord of the sabbath, it is fit the day and the work of it should be dedicated to him.

Verses 9-13 Christ shows that works of mercy are lawful and proper to be done on the Lord's day. There are more ways of doing well upon sabbath days, than by the duties of worship: attending the sick, relieving the poor, helping those who need speedy relief, teaching the young to care for their souls; these are doing good: and these must be done from love and charity, with humility and self-denial, and shall be accepted, ( Genesis 4:7 ) . This, like other cures which Christ wrought, had a spiritual meaning. By nature our hands are withered, and we are unable of ourselves to do any thing that is good. Christ only, by the power of his grace, cures us; he heals the withered hand by putting life into the dead soul, works in us both to will and to do: for, with the command, there is a promise of grace given by the word.

Verses 14-21 The Pharisees took counsel to find some accusation, that Jesus might be condemned to death. Aware of their design, as his time was not come, he retired from that place. Face does not more exactly answer to face in water, than the character of Christ drawn by the prophet, to his temper and conduct as described by the evangelists. Let us with cheerful confidence commit our souls to so kind and faithful a Friend. Far from breaking, he will strengthen the bruised reed; far from quenching the smoking flax, or wick nearly out, he will rather blow it up into a flame. Let us lay aside contentious and angry debates; let us receive one another as Christ receives us. And while encouraged by the gracious kindness of our Lord, we should pray that his Spirit may rest upon us, and make us able to copy his example.

Verses 22-30 A soul under Satan's power, and led captive by him, is blind in the things of God, and dumb at the throne of grace; sees nothing, and says nothing to the purpose. Satan blinds the eyes by unbelief, and seals up the lips from prayer. The more people magnified Christ, the more desirous the Pharisees were to vilify him. It was evident that if Satan aided Jesus in casting out devils, the kingdom of hell was divided against itself; how then could it stand! And if they said that Jesus cast out devils by the prince of the devils, they could not prove that their children cast them out by any other power. There are two great interests in the world; and when unclean spirits are cast out by the Holy Spirit, in the conversion of sinners to a life of faith and obedience, the kingdom of God is come unto us. All who do not aid or rejoice in such a change are against Christ.

Verses 31-32 Here is a gracious assurance of the pardon of all sin upon gospel terms. Christ herein has set an example to the sons of men, to be ready to forgive words spoken against them. But humble and conscientious believers, at times are tempted to think they have committed the unpardonable sin, while those who have come the nearest to it, seldom have any fear about it. We may be sure that those who indeed repent and believe the gospel, have not committed this sin, or any other of the same kind; for repentance and faith are the special gifts of God, which he would not bestow on any man, if he were determined never to pardon him; and those who fear they have committed this sin, give a good sign that they have not. The trembling, contrite sinner, has the witness in himself that this is not his case.

Verses 33-37 Men's language discovers what country they are of, likewise what manner of spirit they are of. The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.

Verses 38-45 Though Christ is always ready to hear and answer holy desires and prayers, yet those who ask amiss, ask and have not. Signs were granted to those who desired them to confirm their faith, as Abraham and Gideon; but denied to those who demanded them to excuse their unbelief. The resurrection of Christ from the dead by his own power, called here the sign of the prophet Jonah, was the great proof of Christ's being the Messiah. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale, and then came out again alive, thus Christ would be so long in the grave, and then rise again. The Ninevites would shame the Jews for not repenting; the queen of Sheba, for not believing in Christ. And we have no such cares to hinder us, we come not to Christ upon such uncertainties. This parable represents the case of the Jewish church and nation. It is also applicable to all those who hear the word of God, and are in part reformed, but not truly converted. The unclean spirit leaves for a time, but when he returns, he finds Christ is not there to shut him out; the heart is swept by outward reformation, but garnished by preparation to comply with evil suggestions, and the man becomes a more decided enemy of the truth. Every heart is the residence of unclean spirits, except those which are temples of the Holy Ghost, by faith in Christ.

Verses 46-50 Christ's preaching was plain, easy, and familiar, and suited to his hearers. His mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, when they should have been standing within, desiring to hear him. Frequently, those who are nearest to the means of knowledge and grace are most negligent. We are apt to neglect that which we think we may have any day, forgetting that to-morrow is not ours. We often meet with hinderances in our work from friends about us, and are taken off by care for the things of this life, from the concerns of our souls. Christ was so intent on his work, that no natural or other duty took him from it. Not that, under pretence of religion, we may be disrespectful to parents, or unkind to relations; but the lesser duty must stand by, while the greater is done. Let us cease from men, and cleave to Christ; let us look upon every Christian, in whatever condition of life, as the brother, sister, or mother of the Lord of glory; let us love, respect, and be kind to them, for his sake, and after his example.

Matthew 12 Commentaries