Matthew 12 Questions and Answers
1. Read Matthew 12:1-2. What were the disciples doing that the Pharisees said was unlawful to do on the Sabbath? Why did they consider what the disciples did as unlawful?
- The disciples were hungry as they went through a grainfield on the Sabbath and so picked some heads of grain and ate it.
- The Mishna (commentary on the Torah) says: 'He that reapeth corn on the Sabbath to the quantity of a fig is guilty; and plucking corn is reaping.' Rubbing the grain out was threshing. Even to walk on the grass on the Sabbath was forbidden because it was a species of threshing. Another Talmudic passage says: 'In case a woman rolls wheat to remove the husks, it is considered sifting; if she rubs the head of wheat, it is regarded as threshing; if she cleans off the side-adherences, it is sifting out fruit; if she throws them up in her hand, it is winnowing' [Jer. Shabt, page 10a].
- One of the primary causes for opposition against Jesus was His observance of the Sabbath and the kind of things He did on the Sabbath.
- According to Deuteronomy 23:24-25 If you enter your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket. If you enter your neighbor's grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to their standing grain. So there was nothing wrong with what Jesus was doing - they were perfectly within their scriptural & social rights.
- The charge that the Pharisee's made against the disciples was actually sinful because it put human tradition on par with God's Word. The Sabbath was to be a day of rest, not a painful day of burdens.
2. Read Matthew 12:3-8. Why do you think Jesus made a reference to David taking the sacred bread from the Temple from 1 Samuel 21:1-9? How does this relate to the accusation that the Pharisees made?
- Jesus was trying to show that the Sabbath was given for God's glory and for meeting man's needs.
- David, Israel's hero, when he was hungry ate the consecrated bread from the Temple which was not lawful for him or those with him to eat, but only for the priests. However, because David was weak with hunger an exception was made.
- God was not offended by what David did and He did not discipline Ahimelech the priest or David. God was willing for a ceremonial regulation to be violated when doing so was necessary to meet the needs of His beloved people. If God makes allowances for His own law to be broken to meet His people's needs, surely He would permit man-made rules to be broken to meet His people's needs.
3. What is Jesus referring to in Matthew 12:5? How did the Priests desecrate the Sabbath?
- The ministering priests had to light the altar fires which was against the Sabbath rules.
- (Numbers 28:9-10) On the Sabbath, the Priests were to offer two lambs and do twice the work they normally did during the week.
- Dead animals were considered unclean yet they were to kill and handle dead animals.
- Despite all these duties that would normally be considered as a violation of God's Sabbath law, the priests were considered innocent.
4. What do you think the Pharisee's response would be to the statement that something greater than the temple is here?
- Whether the Pharisees understood the meaning of Jesus' statement or not, they would have been horrified because to them there was nothing greater than the Temple except for God. The Jews really revered the Temple and if Jesus was claiming to be greater than the Temple, then that would mean that Jesus was claiming to be God.
- Jesus wasn't trying to prove His diety, but in light of that diety, He had the right to do on the Sabbath what He saw fit to do.
5. Why do you think Jesus includes in here the quote from Hosea 6:6 that He desired mercy, not sacrifice. If the Pharisees had followed this teaching, what would they not have done?
- Keeping the Sabbath was a kind of sacrifice, but it was not to be a substitute for compassion and mercy.
- If the Pharisees would have practiced compassion and mercy, they wouldn't have condemned the disciples who were innocent of supposed Sabbath breaking.
6. Why did Jesus claim to be the Lord of the Sabbath? Why is this true?
- When Jesus said He was the Lord of the Sabbath, the Pharisees probably became speechless. Jesus had already claimed to be greater than the Temple and now He was saying that He was greater than the Sabbath. Jesus was God whom the Temple honoured and the Sabbath served.
- Because Jesus was God, and He was the one who instituted the Sabbath rest, He could do what He saw fit to do.
7. Read Matthew 12:9-14. From the grainfield, where did Jesus go? What question did they ask Jesus and why?
- Jesus went into the Pharisee's synagogue
- The Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath? They were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus.
- They asked because in the audience was a man with a shriveled hand and they were wondering if Jesus would heal the man on the Sabbath day. I think they were hoping Jesus would because then they could accuse Him and bring charges against Him.
8. What was Jesus's response to the question? What example did Jesus use to answer the Jews?
- He asked if they would help out an animal that had fallen into a pit on the Sabbath.
- Of course they would, but Jesus said that people were even more valuable than animals.
- Then He told them that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
9. According to Mark 3:4 & Luke 6:9 Jesus asked the Pharisees if is lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it? What was the Pharisees response?
- They kept silent because if they said to do good or save a life it would go against their tradition. And they couldn't advocate doing evil or killing so they were trapped in their illogical traditions.
10. How did Jesus view healing? How did the Pharisees view healing?
- Jesus viewed healing as doing good
- The Jews viewed healing as work and therefore unlawful to do on the Sabbath.
11. What value did Jesus put on a person? How did He show that?
- We are more valuable than animals.
- He healed the man with the shriveled hand.
- You are just as valuable to Jesus as that man was. Isn't that wonderful?
12. What was the Pharisees response to Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath? (see also Luke 6:11)
Why do you think the Pharisees acted so viciously?
- They were furious
- The Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. (with the Herodians who were the irreligious and worldly polical party who supported Herod) These were usually archenemies and which shows how desperate the Pharisees were to do away with Jesus.
13. How do you view the Sabbath Day? Do you ever struggle with what is ok to do on our day of rest? According to Scripture what is appropriate?
- Jesus ate, healed, taught, preached, read Scripture, doing good, saving a life
- In Acts, meeting at a place of worship, prayer, putting aside money for the Lord's work, broke bread in their homes
- OT - a day to rest as opposed to working. A day set aside for God.
- It was a day set aside to replenish us physically, emotionally and spiritually.
- To get a fuller explanation about how to treat the Sabbath, a good reference book is Mark Buchanan - The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath.
14. Read Matthew 12:15-17. What was Jesus response to the plots against His life?
- Since Jesus was aware of their plot, He voluntarily withdrew.
- Many followed Him and Jesus was never too busy even then to heal them
15. Why do you think Jesus warned the people not to tell others about their healings?
- Jesus may not have wanted His miracles to become too widely known in order to keep them in perspective - He didn't perform them to become famous or to have power or influence. Jesus did have compassion on those who were ill but His primary work was to save souls, not bodies. If He continued demonstrations of power, zealous enthusiasm for Him as a military and politica deliverer could have become a problem.
- Jesus' miracles could cause further rage of the scribes and Pharisees and if His fame spread too quickly and widely it would have prematurely increased the fatal opposition against Him.
- Perhaps the most important reason was that this was not the time for Jesus' exultation but of His humiliation.
- Many probably wondered about Jesus. If He really was the Messiah, why was not accepted by the religious leaders and why He spent so much time with the poor and needy instead of the powerful and influential. But Matthew assures us that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, just as prophesied by Isaiah. Jesus did not come to fulfill the confused and unscriptural expectations of the people but to fulfil His divine mission as predicted in the Bible. He was determined that every divine prediction about Him might be fulfilled.
16. What does Matthew 12:18-21 which is taken from Isaiah 42:1-4 tell us about the Messiah? Did Jesus fulfill all of the prophesies recorded in this section of scripture?
- The word servant means son or an especially intimate servant who was trusted and loved like a son.
- God has chosen His Son to redeem the world - He is the only one qualified for the task of redemption
- God loves Jesus and delights in Him. (Matthew 3:17)
- God promised He would put His Spirit on the Messiah in a unique way and at Jesus' baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove (Mathew 3:16)
- Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah will proclaim justice to the nations, even to the Gentiles.
- Jesus did not come to quarrel or cry out and try to force people with the gospel- His was the way of gentleness and speaking the truth.
- In those days a bruised reed or a smouldering wick were useless and thrown away. A bruised reed and a smouldering wick represents people whose lives are broken and worn out, ready to be disgarded and replaced by the world. But Jesus will not break off or snuff out even the least of those who come to Him. Instead He restores the battered reed and rekindles the smouldering wick.
- Ultimately the right will win - victory will bring justice. Jesus is destined to be victorious.
- In Christ's name the nations will put their hope. (Romans 15:12)
17. How many prophesies of the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus?
- More than 300 Messianic prophecies like this were made in the Old Testament and then fulfilled through Jesus' life, death and resurrection. The chances of one person fulfilling a mere eight of these prophecies are one-in-100,000,000,000,000,000. For one person to fulfill 48 of these prophecies, the number becomes staggering - one chance in 10-to-the-157th power. Add to that the 250 other prophecies, and it becomes impossible for any other person except Jesus to ever fit that particular sequence of time and events. (Evidence that Demands a Verdict - Josh McDowell. P. 157)
18. Read Matthew 12:22-24. How had the demon affected the man?
19. What was the response of the people to the driving out of the demon and the man's healing?
- They were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" This seems to be the first time when we read that the crowds begin to wonder if maybe Jesus was the Messiah. The Messiah was prophesied to be able to do miracles so that fit the description of Jesus but they also expected the Messiah to come with royal fanfare and military might.
20. How did the Pharisees explain Jesus' power?
- When the Pharisees heard the people seriously wondering if Jesus was the Messiah, they must have paniced. So they reacted by saying to those around them that it is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons that Jesus drives out demons.
- Since it says that Jesus knew their thoughts, He must not have heard them but those around the Pharisees would have. The Pharisees would have been trying to poison the minds of the people by answering their question for them (if Jesus was the Messiah) by saying a resounding NO. Jesus was just the opposite of the Messiah.
- The Pharisees would not confront Jesus directly with their accusation, but He confronted them directly with the absurdity of their accusation.
21. Can Satan do these kinds of miracles?
- Yes there are satanic miracle workers even today. Satan may do a miracle (if God allows him to - eg. Magicians in Pharoah's court) to deceive but he also can fake healings by taking the symptoms away so that it looks like he healed. He is a deceiver. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
22. Read Matthew 12:25-28. How did Jesus defend himself against the accusations - explanations of the Pharisees?
- He showed them how absurd it was for a kingdom or city or household to be divided against itself - it would self-destruct and not stand.
- Satan certainly does not assign his forces to fight against each other and Satan also does not cast out Satan, and so internally destroy his own program.
- Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees had no problem with their own group casting out demons. This shows that they rejected Jesus not because of lack of knowledge but because of their bias against Him.
- To put the Pharisees further on the spot He suggested that those who had driven out demons that they would judge by what power they had cast out the evil spirit. If they said by Satan's power they would be condemning themselves. If they said by God's power, they would undercut the Pharisees accusation against Jesus.
- Since Jesus had dispelled the notion that He had worked under Satan's power, the only remaining possibility was that He cast out demons by the Spirit of God. And if He did His work by the Spirit of God, then His miracles were of God and He had to be the Messiah. And if He is the Messiah, then He is the coming King, and if He is the Kingdom of God has come upon them. (Colossians 1:13) God has delivered us from the Kingdom of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His dear Son.
23. What did Jesus mean with Matthew 12:29? Who is the strong man? Who is the robber?
- If Jesus is going to heal sickness which came upon us as a result of sin, and if Jesus raises people from the dead which also is a consequence of sin and indirectly the work of Satan, and if Jesus casts out demons who are Satan's workers, then He would have to first tie up the strong man, Satan, before He could do these miracles. Here Jesus is saying to the people, haven't I shown with all my miracles that I am stronger than Satan. Who but God could go into the house of Satan and successfully bind him and carry off his property (people's illness, death, demons)? Eg of the sons of Sceva who tried to do that unsuccessfully (Acts 19:13-16)
24. Read Matthew 12:30-32. What are the only 2 possible relationships with God?
- There are only 2 possible relationships with God - with or against.
- Jesus then shows that it is not necessary to oppose Jesus to be against Him; it is only necessary to not be with Him. Also, you don't need to actively interfere with Jesus' work in order to be one who scatters; just don't work with Him. Anyone who isn't with me opposes me, and anyone who isn't working with me is actually working against me.
25. What kind of things can be forgiven? What cannot be forgiven?
- Sin in vs. 31 refers to immoral, ungodly thoughts and actions
- Blasphemy represents conscious denouncing and rejection of God. A defiant irreverence and the uniquely terrible sin of intentionally and openly speaking evil against a holy God or defaming or mocking Him.
- Any sin and even blasphemy is forgiven when it is confessed and repented of. Eg. Paul was a former blasphemer (I Timothy 1:13), Peter blasphemed Christ by cursing Him (Mark 14:71) but he was forgiven and restored.
- We can blaspheme too because anything that we do or say that damages or defames the Lord's name would be a form of blasphemy. To question God's goodness, wisdom, fairness, truthfulness, love or faithfulness is a form of blasphemy but all of that is forgivable by grace.
- Blasphemy against Jesus, the Son of Man, is forgivable too if the people did not fully understand Jesus' deity but once they receive the fuller light they believe.
- Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven
26. How can one blaspheme or speak against the Holy Spirt?
- Those who blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would be those who see the Holy Spirit's divine power at work in and through Jesus but willfully refuse to accept it as the Holy Spirits power but attribute that power to Satan. Many had heard Jesus teach and preach and seen Jesus do every kind of miracle of healing, casting out demons and forgiving sin and yet they refused to believe Him. Even though they had been shown every possible evidence of Jesus' messiahship and diety they said "no" so there was nothing more God could do for them and they would therefore remain eternally unforgiven. During Jesus'earthly ministry, the unbelieving Pharisees and all the others who blasphemed the Spirit cut themselves off from God's mercy, not because it wasn't offered to them but because it was abundantly offered to them but they rebelliously and permanently rejected and riducled it as satanic.
27. Read Matthew 12:33-37. What does Jesus mean when He says to make a tree good or bad?
- To make a tree good or bad can mean to create or to consider, evaluate or judge.
- Jesus is telling them to decide if He is a good tree that does good or an evil tree that does evil. He cannot be evil and do good work, or be good and do evil. If He is doing good works, it is by God's power, if evil then it is by Satan's power because God empowers nothing evil and Satan empowers nothing good. Since sickness, death and evil spirits are the result of sin, since Jesus had been healing, casting out evil spirits which is delivering men from the destructive work of sin He must be doing it by God's power and not Satan's. Because the Pharisees accused Jesus to doing good by Satan's power, and attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, that was unforgiveable blasphemy.
28. Who else called the Pharisees a "brood of vipers"? (Matthew 3:7)
29. Why did Jesus call the Pharisees a brood of vipers?
- Just like a viper is deceptive so the Pharisees were deceptive
- A viper is a poisonous snake. The Pharisees were poisoning people's minds against Jesus
- Like a brood of vipers, the Pharisees would go around in groups teaching and promoting their man-made traditions.
- The Pharisees were so full of evil that all that you could expect to come out of their mouth was evil, venomous speech.
30. How do we fill our heart (the seat of thought and will, that which represents the character of a person) with good things so that good will come out? Philippians 4:8
- We need to dwell on and feed on what is good, true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
31. How can we find, discover, identify any evil thoughts or ideas that we might have in our heart?
- Listen to what comes out of our mouth - out of the overflow of our heart the mouth speaks.
- As a person thinks, so is he. Proverbs 23:7
- If a person is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect person. James 3:2
- Ask others for any blind spots or hypocracy which we might not see in ourselves.
32. How do we get rid of evil thoughts or ideas?
- We need to ask Jesus to transform and renew our mind. Replace it with God's thoughts and ideas from His Word. Romans 12:1-2
- Jesus warned about emptying our lives of evil but not filling it with the truth and godliness. (V 43-45) Then the evil spirit will come back with more evil spirits making the condition of the person worse.
33. What do we have to give an account for on the day of judgment?
- For every careless word we have spoken
34. What do you consider to be careless words?
- Useless, empty and idle chatter. Unproductive, hurtful, demeaning, flippant, irresponsible, hypocritical words, with no eternal value
35. What kind of words will condemn a person? What kind of words will acquit a person - set them free on the day of judgment?
- Empty, idle, careless, evil, hypocritical, blasphemous words we have spoken will condemn us
- Spiritual, wholesome, fitting, kind, sensitive, loving, purposeful, edifying and truthful words will acquit us.
- Confession of sin and words that express our love for Christ and our belief in Him as our Saviour.
In light of these sobering verses, what should be our prayer? (Psalm 141:3)
36. Read Matthew 12:38-42. Why did the Pharisees and teachers of the law want to see a miraculous sign from Jesus?
- It was an official demand for Jesus to prove Himself to be the Messiah, yet at the same time the Pharisees thought they could prove that Jesus was not the Messiah but a blasphemous imposter either with the sign or the fact that He wouldn't give a sign.
37. Are there people today that are looking for miraculous signs - to prove that the Bible is true, that Jesus is who He said He is, etc.? Is a sign necessary?
- If a person knows the Father and faithfully serves Him and His Son, no sign is needed.
- But an evil and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign
38. What was the "sign" that Jesus said that He would give them? How was this fulfilled?
- Of Jonah who was in the huge fish for 3 days and 3 nights - so the Son of Man will be for 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth.
- It was fulfilled in Christ being buried for 3 days and nights and then He was resurrected
39. What kind of claims did Jesus make about Himself? See also Matthew 12:6, 8
- He was greater than Jonah
- He was greater than Solomon
- He was greater than the temple
- He was Lord of the Sabbath
40. What do these verses suggest about the judgment to come?
- The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with that generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah but now the people who are hearing Jesus, who is greater than Jonah, preach and they are not repenting
- The Queen from the South will rise at the judgment with that generation and condemn it for the Queen came from a long way to listen to Solomon's wisdom and now Jesus, who is greater than Solomon is here, and they're not listening to His wisdom.
- Former pagans will stand in judgment of the Jews at the day of judgment.
41. Read Matthew 12:43-45. Is only moral transformation sufficient?
- A person may become morally clean but if Christ does not live in the heart, then the evil spirits are free to come back and live there. Salvation through Christ needs to be emphasized. Without Christ the person will have a religion that drives them further from God than they were before they were reformed because it is much easier to reach a person who is overwhelmed with a true sense of his sin than a person who has a false sense of righteousness.
- During the Babylonian captivity the Jews forsook idolatry and in more than 500 years they hadn't gone back but they became so satisfied with their reformation and with their religious ceremonies and moral traditions that they saw no need for a Saviour.
- Reformation is not salvation or redemption
42. Read Matthew 12:46-50. How does verse 46 show that the teaching that Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained a virgin to be false?
43. What is the criteria for becoming a "relative" of Jesus?
- Doing the will of God, Jesus' Father. Jesus was not denouncing His family but shows that He invites the entire world into His intimate and divine family by putting their trust in Him.
44. If you had to summarize what Matthew teaches in this chapter what would the main points be?
- Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath and it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath
- Jesus was fulfilling prophesy as the Messiah according to Isaiah 42
- Jesus healed and cast out demons by the Spirit of God.
- The only sin that is unforgiveable is when you assign the work of the Spirit of God to Satan.
- You know if you are a good or evil person by listening to the words you speak and we will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word we speak. Our words acquit us or condemn us.
- The only sign Jesus gave that wicked and adulterous generation to prove that He was the Messiah was the sign of Jonah that was in the big fish for 3 days just like Jesus would be buried for 3 days & then rise.
- Even former pagan people will condemn Israel on the day of judgment because Israel had a chance to hear someone greater than John and Solomon.
- It's not enough to just be morally reformed and not saved - more evil spirits will come back and it will be worse for that person.
- To become part of Jesus' family a person needs to do God's will by putting their trust in Jesus.
45. How do these form a cohesive argument?
- Jesus was proving He was the Messiah