The Gospels in 40 days Matthew 12

Matthew 12

Lord of the Sabbath:  For the Pharisees the Sabbath was a burden God placed on people to see if they would obey. Apparently, their interpretation of the law was that picking a few grains of wheat and rubbing them between your fingers to remove the chaff was the work of harvesting and threshing. Jesus rebukes their picky little laws, and shows that when the Great King David broke temple laws. The priests in the temple work on the Sabbath and yet are innocent.

Jesus makes a incredible claim: He is the Lord of the Sabbath.

Next The Pharisees test his righteousness by asking if he can heal on the Sabbath. Jesus, again, puts mercy first and heals the shriveled (palsied, paralysed?) hand of the unfortunate man. He was nothing more than a object lesson to the Pharisees, but he was loved by Jesus.

Read verses 18 -21 a few times and consider how this prophecy describes Jesus. His compassion is great; his gentleness to the wounded is evident even in his fiery anger toward their oppressors. His version of justice is setting things right: proclaiming repentance, healing the sick, welcoming outcasts and setting free the oppressed. Are you a bruised reed or a nearly extinguished flame? Jesus is here to restore you.

Jesus and Beelzebub: The mean pettiness of the Pharisees, accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan (the devil was often called Beelzebub: Lord of the Flies) is a serious mistake.. Jesus first addresses the illogic and hypocrisy of their statement.  Then he warns them sternly: “If you are not with me, you are against me. You can say anything you want about me, but if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you are refusing the only true God who can alone save you.” If they will not turn from their stubborn pride and self-righteousness when Jesus does such powerful works of goodness by the Spirit of God, what will ever save them?

To these people asking for signs, Jesus responds that they have seen more than enough signs. The one last sign will be “The sign of Jonah” who spent three days in a whale. Jesus will die, and on the third day rise from the grave. If they still can’t recognise God’s Messiah then nothing will turn them around.

Mother and Brothers: Other Gospels give more context to Jesus remarks – Mary and his brothers were trying to interfere in his ministry- thinking he was working too hard or even that he was losing his grip. As kind as their intentions were, Jesus chides their lack of faith. His disciples, those who do the will of the Father in heaven are the closest and most important to him.

Lord, you put the kingdom of God ahead of family and even above your own life. You were motivated by love and faith, not by legalism or self righteousness. Purify me from imitation godliness, and perfect me in Holy love.

If you are following the Lenten Reading Schedule you are reading this on Saturday. Sunday is a scheduled break, and the next chapter will be published on Monday. I hope to see you at Church on Sunday for the start of our series on The Lord's Prayer.