Matthew 12

Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath 1
and Healer 9
Evil Spirits 22
Sin Against the Holy Spirit 31
Demand for a miracle 38
As Jonas, 3 days, 3 nights 40
Evil spirit returns 43
Jesus' true family 46
Text
Comments
Picking grain on the Sabbath. Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-38: Luke 6:1-5.
.1 ¶ At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn [heads of grain], and to eat.
 2  But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
 3  But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
 4  How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
.5  Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
 6  But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
  1 - Pluck and eat According to the rules added by the Jewish leaders was one which forbade such activity since it was considered harvesting and threshing de2325. Mark also records the story mr0223ff.
  2 - Not lawful That is, according to the Jewish tradition. See on mr0224.
  3 - Have ye not read Jesus is building an understanding.
  5 - Priests profane The priests had more work to do on the Sabbath than on other days nu2809, le2405. It was part of making the Sabbath holy. By rotation, they had off-duty periods and could then rest on the Sabbath as others.
  6 - One greater "or rather, according to the reading which is best supported, 'something greater.' The argument stands thus: 'The ordinary rules for the observance of the sabbath give way before the requirements of the temple; but there are rights here before which the temple itself must give way.' Thus indirectly, but not the less decidedly, does our Lord put in His own claims to consideration in this question claims to be presently put in even more nakedly." (JFB Commentary). When Jesus went out of the temple for the last time, He described it as desolate. lu1335, mt2338. Compare 1sa0419.
 7  But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
.8  For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
  7 - Mercy and not sacrifice From ho0606.
 .8 - Lord of the Sabbath The one standing before them in human form (as the Son of Man) was the Lord of the Sabbath mr0227. In speaking the law from Sinai, God had reminded the people about "the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." ex2008.
   If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever he1308, would not His Sabbath also be the same? Some take this incident and the one which follows to indicate that Jesus ended the importance of the Sabbath. Instead He clarified its true meaning denouncing the petty rules that had removed the joy God had intended for it is5813. Later the apostle John was in vision on the Lord's day re0110. Jesus Christ had claimed to be that Lord. It was and still is His day.
Man with a withered hand. Mark 3:1-6; Matt. 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11.
.9  And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:
 10  And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
 11  And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
 12  How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
 13  Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
 14 ¶ Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
  10 - Lawful to heal on the sabbath days Jesus revealed the false foundation of their argument. Also see on lu1314.
Popularity, withdrawal. Mark 3:7-12; Matt. 12:15-21.
.15  But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
 16  And charged them that they should not make him known:
 17  That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
.18  Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
 19  He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
.20  A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
 21  And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
  18 - My servant He was the Messiah servant described by Isaiah is4201.
  20 - Bruised reed ... flax Continuing the prophecy of Isaiah is4203.
Casting out a devil and the unpardonable sin. Also Matt. 12:22-45; Mark 3:20-30; Luke 11:14-32.
.22 ¶ Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
 23  And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
.24  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
 25  And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
 26  And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
.27  And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
 28  But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
 29  Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
   24 - [Casting them out how?] This is clearly not logical, as Jesus points out. The Pharisees had lost their direction and darkness was their light mt0622. Also see on several verses beginning at lu1114.
 30  He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
.31  Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
.32  And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
 33  Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
.34  O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
 35  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
.36  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
.37  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
  30 - Not with me Here is a class who might not be intent on evil but who feel no need for Christ.
  31 - Speaketh against Holy Ghost ... not forgiven This verse is understood in the context of verses before it. It describes those who consistently refuse the appeal of the Holy Spirit. They feel no need for freedom from sin in their lives. They are not forgiven because they do not want to be. They do not repent. Why is this blasphemy? I explain this below. And the topic appears in connection with a discussion of hell re1411b. Compare 1sa2517, pr0522.
   Blasphemy is not declining to speak gibberish in a trans-like state called speaking in tongues. See 1co1230f and verse 36 at the left.
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 38 ¶ Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
 39  But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
.40  For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

  40 - Three days ... earth This includes more than the time He was in the tomb. See on lu2253. Compare the experience of Jonah jon0203. Also ps04207, ps01804. Days were referred to differently then than now. Here they were Friday (crucifixion), Sabbath (in the tomb) and Sunday (resurrection). Even the priests and Pharisees quoted Jesus using general terms. For various verses referring to this time, see on mt2664.
  40 - Whale's From keto meaning "large fish" possibly with the idea of a big mouth. Of course it seems quite likely that it really was a whale. See the story of Jonah.
.41  The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
.42  The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
  41 - Men of Nineveh A solemn warning to the Pharisees who had chosen to reject Christ. The appeal is for repentance. In verse 42 it is for wisdom. They needed to take away their evil and receive true wisdom.
.43  When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
 44  Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
 45  Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
  43 - Spirit is gone out While this is true of evil angels who gain control over people, especially over those who play with the occult, the little story here is a warning to us. We must, by God's power, get rid of evil while filling our "house" with what we can do in cooperation with Christ. We may see here a repetition of the the principle expressed in verses 41 and 42. Compare re0320.
Jesus' mother and brothers are like everyone else. Luke 8:19-21; Matt. 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35.
.46 ¶ While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
 47  Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
 48  But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
 49  And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
 50  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
   47 - Thy mother For a similar statement, see lu1127. Discussed at Rev. 12. re1201ama., mr0331. It is clear that, although Mary was honored to have been the mother of Jesus, her spiritual relationship to Him was no different from what any of us may experience. The idea that she was taken to heaven is not biblical. The church in apostasy looked at the pagan goddesses and tended to view Mary in a similar way.
  An article in Newsweek, Aug. 25, 1997, describes a massive movement to elevate Mary to the status of divinity, essentially adding a fourth person to join Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. See the notes page.


From someone who believes she has committed the unpardonable sin
    My encounter with this young lady began with some serious e-mail correspondence about my explanations of the punishment of the wicked. It was difficult for her to see the symbolic nature of the lake of fire which will burn for ever and ever re2010b. She felt that I should not be telling people that the wicked eventually die (Mal. 4:1; Obadiah 15, 16; ob16). When I expressed appreciation for what I perceived as her concern for my soul, she responded explaining that she was no longer a Christian. She had done her homework, looking up Bible passages and then found a page in this commentary (not this one) on the unpardonable sin. She had known the influence of the Holy Spirit but told the Lord, as I recall, that she had chosen not to follow Him. Since then she had felt no conviction, no joy and assurance. She was interested in the thought that hell might end, but really didn't believe it would. My response covers points that may interest you, too, so I'll share them. I was not granted permission to quote her.
__________________
   Thank you for explaining your reasons for concern about my explanations of hell. I have read both your letter and the attached file explaining your experience. Have you committed the unpardonable sin? Mt1231 (above). I don't believe so. Your concern for others seems to indicate this. Of course God is the judge. If I believed you had sinned in this way, I would not pronounce your status but defer to the judgment of God. I'll explain this but first want to return to the consideration of God's punishment of the wicked.
   For so long, the plain statements of Scripture have been misinterpreted that it seems strange to look at them without the explanations that tend to make them say what they don't. This is certainly not a criticism of your parents or pastors who teach the best they know.
   One of the plainest verses is Mal. 4:1 "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch."
    You said that maybe the ashes ("stubble") would be suffering. After writing last, I noticed the statement about Satan. Ezek. 28:18, 19: "Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more." Notice that he is both reduced to ashes and will cease to exist ez2818. Also read Obadiah 15 and 16, linked above.
    God is both merciful and just. His justice demands the consequences of sin. But this is measured according to our behavior. You may recall learning concepts of infinity in your math classes. Continuing to suffer without end is not just. It is not according to our works (behavior) Rev. 22:12.
    I would not for a moment suggest, however, that the punishment of the wicked is trivial. In fact, whatever physical punishment is endured must be minimal compared to the terrible sense of eternal loss and eternal separation from the source of light and love. The Holy Spirit, however, does not scare us into righteousness by the pagan descriptions of hell, or even by its brief description here and there in the Bible. God is love. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and draws us to Christ. The use of persecution and fear to achieve religious conformity is the work of Satan and his evil angels. Temptation is a real feeling. Consider the case of Job. In the first chapter of Job we see what happens behind the scenes. Job and his "friends" did not know all this. The friends told him how terrible he was. Their evidence was that he suffered.
   "So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die." (Job 2:7-9).
    Notice Job's answer: ". . . Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips." You may not have responded like Job, but this is your challenge.
   Your experience with the Pentecostals illustrates what I believe is happening to you. First of all, I believe they misunderstand God's will. They tend to neglect the Scriptures for what they believe to be the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Paul said that even if he or an angel from heaven preached another gospel, it would be wrong. (Gal. 1:8, 9). This means that we do not receive light that supersedes the Bible. Did Jesus ever push people over causing them to lose consciousness? No (2 Tim. 1:7). On the day of Pentecost, the disciples spoke in tongues. This, however, was not gibberish. It was other languages (although there was apparently false tongues speaking even then). You can read about it in Acts and 1 Cor. 12, 13).
    Induced loss of personal control, whether hysteria, unconsciousness, trembling, or tongues, is not from God but from Satan who would cut us off from the source of light from hearing and understanding God's word clearly. The Holy Spirit speaks only what He hears from Christ (John 16:13, 14).  People who try to command Him and draw attention to themselves, receive their response from the spirit of darkness. According to 2 Cor. 11:14, Satan may appear as an angel of light. I believe he withheld this experience to make you feel that you were forever lost. This, added to your other experiences, is calculated to drive you to despair and deep into sin.
    Your feeling a lack of desire for spiritual things is clearly not good, but I expect that this was the case of the prodigal son when he was away in his wicked lifestyle. You might want to look to his experience as your hope (Luke 15). He came to realize his situation. Feeding pigs would have been an undesirable job for a Gentile, but it was both physically and spiritually bad for him. As he responded, the Father came running to meet him!
    Let's look at the meaning of Jesus' statement to understand what the unpardonable sin is. See above mt1224.
    In verse 24, the Pharisees attributed to Satan the work of God in the Holy Spirit. This was their blasphemy and defines the unpardonable sin for us. This sin is not as narrow and specific as it seems. One does not come to this irrational conclusion until after long resistance of the Holy Spirit. As I understand it, this never happens in an instant. Christ had been among these leaders for a long time since their encounter with him in the temple at age 12. The Holy Spirit had certainly convicted them that He was sent from God. Because they had held on to their power and pride, they gradually came to see Christ's work as evil! "But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23 mt0622).
    God allows us to believe what we want to as we refuse the love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:9, 10). Our hearts don't turn totally cold in a brief time or none would be saved. As we persist in sin, the voice of the Spirit becomes weaker until He withdraws completely. Then we are not forgiven because we do not want to be. Jesus said ". . . He who comes to me I will under no circumstance throw out." (John 6:37, jn0637). The problem is that the icy cold heart does not come. It seems to me that you have not reached this stage.
    My appeal to you is to quit your job feeding the pigs. To move into the full light of the joy of Christ will take prayer and your determination. You don't have this strength but Christ does and has promised that no temptation would be too strong for us. He is able to keep us from falling (1 Cor. 10:13, 14; Jude 24). Satan will try to get you sidetracked with this or that, but grab the hand of Christ and just refuse to let go! You may not feel righteous (pr1412; jn0308), but claim the promise that whoever comes will not be cast out. Satan will say you are unworthy, but you respond that Christ died for sinners! You can be as one snatched from the fire (Zech. 3:1, 2).
    I'm praying for you and want to meet you and your dad and mom in heaven.
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