This chapter in Matthew possesses an abundance of practical implications regarding the way we view God’s involvement in our daily lives. I know for me, there are moments when I am utterly confused at what God is doing. At other times I misunderstand God’s noble intention behind what He is doing. And it can be easy to assume the worst. Or to assume that God will get it wrong.
Reading this chapter, I felt convicted realizing I emulate the faithlessness of the Pharisees when I question God. The Pharisees always assumed the worst about Jesus. They never assumed that He was doing what was best. When Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath, they only saw His breach of protocol. When Jesus rescued a man from demon-possession, they only thought He was trained by demons. They never praised Him for His miracles. They never saw what was good. They just glared at Him. Questioned Him. And waited for Him to mess up. But sadly, we do the same when we glare at God with bitterness and ungrateful attitudes… when we question His ways… when we wait for Him to mess up our lives because of a plan we think will not bring us happiness.
Lack of awareness regarding God’s favorable intentions toward us can make us cold and resentful towards God. If we hold on to our finite understanding of the way we expect things to operate in our lives, we will miss the infinite ability of God to do what is best, not only for us but for others involved.
The only way we can avoid this tendency to question God is by knowing who Jesus really is. The One who came to express God in the flesh. When we know who Jesus really is…the One who comes to bring healing, life and joy, then we have no need to question God because we know that He always does what is best for us. Jesus will never relent in pioneering justice and righteousness on the earth.
In Matthew 12, I love how we see Jesus on mission. Jesus has the boldness to enter the synagogue even as the Pharisees had just tried to ridicule Him for picking grain on the Sabbath (which was a man-made rule to keep people from breaking Sabbath-rest ordinances). Jesus is unafraid to go where healing awaits his power. He enters in. He doesn’t care what the Pharisees think about it. He does what is right. And the sick man was made well by the power and mercy of Jesus on that day.
Sometimes, we may not like how Jesus does things in our lives. But usually, it stems from our selfishness and man-made rules getting in His way. Rules about how we want to live, where we want to go, who we want to spend time with, and what we want to do. But thankfully, we have a God who isn’t offended by our selfish ways. He looks past it and keeps pursuing us. Jesus is bold to show initiative even when we resist. He always acts with a purpose. We should be utterly awestruck by the fact that Jesus would want to be involved in our lives. May that remind us to let go of our man-made rules in place of His Lordship.
God will not get it wrong in our lives. We just have to trust Him. And as we get to know Jesus in this passage, Matthew 12, let us recognize Him as the One who truly knows best. May we change our perspective of God as the One who always seeks to do what is right, forever reigning in goodness.
Summary of Matthew 12
Jesus and his disciples walk through the grainfields on the Sabbath; the disciples pick grain to eat; the Pharisees observe and are angered by them picking grain on the Sabbath; Jesus reminds them of David eating the bread of the Presence on the Sabbath, and that the priests work on the Sabbath to maintain the temple; Jesus reminds them that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath; Jesus heals a man with a withered hand; the Pharisees question Him for healing on the Sabbath; Jesus tells them it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, just like it would be appropriate to rescue a sheep falling into a pit on the Sabbath; the Pharisees conspire against Jesus; Jesus withdraws from there; Jesus heals a demon-possessed man; the Pharisees say that Jesus does his miracles by the power of demons; Jesus refutes their argument with the logic that a house divided against itself cannot stand; Jesus teaches that blasphemy against Himself will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven; Jesus teaches that a tree is known by its fruit, much like a person is known for what they speak; some scribes and Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign; Jesus answers saying that evil generations asked for signs; Jesus says they will not see any sign except for that of Jonah who was inside a fish for three days, just like the son of Man will be in the earth for 3 days; Jesus warns about unclean spirits looking for a place to reside; Jesus’ mother and brothers want to speak to Him but he answers that His mother and brothers are there with Him already, as anyone who does the will of His Father in heaven is His mother and brothers.
Jesus in Matthew 12: 1-50
Jesus walks through the grainfields on the Sabbath, as his disciples are hungry (v. 1)
Jesus crosses man-made boundaries for the good of His people (v. 1)
Jesus elicits a response from the Pharisees (v. 2)
Jesus conveys to the Pharisees that they don’t have a well-educated awareness of historical activity on the Sabbath (v. 3-6)
Jesus points out a flaw in the Pharisees’ rule-keeping (v. 3-6)
Jesus teaches them there is something greater than temple rules (v. 6)
Jesus tells them that if they had known, or internalized, what the Old Testament scripture says, they wouldn’t have condemned the guiltless (v. 7)
Jesus highlights the lack of their scriptural application in light of their scriptural knowledge (v. 7)
Jesus declares that He is Lord of the Sabbath (v. 8)
Jesus has authority over man-made Sabbath rules (v. 8)
Jesus proceeds to enter the Synagogue (v. 9)
Jesus is bold (v. 9)
Jesus is not intimidated by anyone (v. 9)
Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees regarding healing on the Sabbath (v. 10)
Jesus rhetorically asks them a question, comparing healing on the Sabbath to rescuing a sheep in a pit on the Sabbath (v. 11)
Jesus proclaims that a man is of much more value than a sheep (v. 12)
Jesus explains why healing on the Sabbath is lawful (v. 11-12)
Jesus is smart (v. 11-12)
Jesus will not be outwitted (v. 11-12)
Jesus doesn’t wait for the Pharisees’ response; he proceeds and heals the man (v. 13)
Jesus heals the man’s arm just by His words (v. 13)
Jesus’ healing causes the Pharisees to leave and conspire how to destroy Him (v. 14)
Jesus is aware of the Pharisees’ conspiring (v. 15)
Jesus withdrew from there (v. 15)
Jesus has many followers (v. 15)
Jesus heals all who follow Him (v. 15)
Jesus orders them not to make Him known (v. 16)
Jesus fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah (v. 17-21)
Jesus is God’s chosen servant (v. 18)
Jesus is God’s beloved (v. 18)
Jesus pleases God (v. 18)
Jesus receives God’s Spirit upon Him (v. 19)
Jesus does not quarrel or cry aloud (v. 19)
Jesus does not draw public attention to Himself (v. 19)
Jesus has compassion for the lowly (v. 20)
Jesus brings justice to victory (v. 20)
Jesus’ name is the Name that Gentiles will hope in (v. 21)
Jesus encounters a demon-possessed man (v. 22)
Jesus heals the man (v. 22)
Jesus enables the man to speak and see (v. 22)
Jesus amazes the people (v. 23)
Jesus causes the crowd to ask if He is the Son of David (v. 23)
Jesus’ healing power is questioned by the Pharisees (v. 24)
Jesus knows the Pharisees thought before they even speak (v. 25)
Jesus proclaims that a kingdom divided cannot stand (v. 25-26)
Jesus refutes their inward accusations with logic (v. 26-29)
Jesus declares that the kingdom of God has come upon them (v. 28)
Jesus proclaims that those who are not for Him are against Him (v. 30)
Jesus requires loyalty (v. 30)
Jesus will forgive those who sin and blaspheme, even against Him (v. 31-32)
Jesus cannot forgive blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (v. 31-32)
Jesus teaches that a tree is known by its fruit (v. 33)
Jesus points out they hypocrisy of the Pharisees (v. 34)
Jesus teaches that the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart (v. 34)
Jesus teaches the significance of our words in light of eternal judgment (v. 36-37)
Jesus will not show a sign to those who don’t really wish to see God (v. 39)
Jesus alludes to his crucifixion and resurrection (v. 39-40)
Jesus points out that something greater is at hand than was of Jonah’s fish experience, and of the wisdom of Solomon (v. 41-42)
Jesus proclaims that this generation needs to repent for the kingdom of God is at hand (v. 39-42)
Jesus warns against unclean spirits coming back again (v. 43-45)
Jesus points out that waterless places (or without the Holy Spirit) attract unclean spirits (v. 43-45)
Jesus alludes that a person needs the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to rid of uncleanliness (v. 43-45)
Jesus prophecies about the unclean spiritual state of that generation (v. 43-45)
Jesus’ mother and brother are outside the synagogue, wanting to speak to Him (v. 46)
Jesus asks who are my mother and brothers (v. 48)
Jesus stretches out His hand towards His disciples (v. 49)
Jesus says that those who do my Father’s will are my mother, sister and brothers (v. 50)
Jesus prioritizes those close to Him who actually follow Him (v. 49-50)
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.”– Matthew 12:33
Questions for today:
- Is there a gap between my scriptural knowledge and my application of those scriptures?
- What kind of fruit am I producing in my life?
- Why does Jesus break the Pharisee’s Sabbath rules?
- Do I see Jesus as the Lord of my life?
- What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?