Gospel of Matthew Chapter Twelve Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Jesus Our Healer
Verses 1-6: "At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, 'Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.' 3 But He said to them,'Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? 5 Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? 6 But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.'" The reference here is to 1 Samuel 21, where David and his men, ate "holy bread," after receiving permission from Ahimelech the priest. David also received the sword of Goliath from the man. Jesus is greater than religious law. He is greater than our buildings, our traditions, even special days initiated by God in the first place. When we placed our faith in the Lord, when we give ourselves to Him, we become—innocent—in the sight of Almighty God; relying on His Mercy; not merely on some pattern of behavior
Verses 7-8: "But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.'" Jesus here quoted Hosea 6:6, the record of a man called by God to marry a prostitute as a means of revealing the Israelites of that time to themselves. Hosea uttered words that were incredible to his hearers: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." Such sacrificial offerings were at the center of the Jewish religion, but there was Hosea, and here is Jesus, pointing out that the attitudes in our hearts are more important than mere religious observance. David said much the same in Psalm 51:17—"the sacrifices of God are a...broken and a contrite heart." "Sabbath" means "rest," and now we begin to see what Jesus meant in Matthew 11:28, when He said, "I will give you rest." He is the only One who can, for He is "Lord of the Sabbath," Lord of you and me.
Verses 9-13: "Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?'—so that they might accuse Him. 11 And He said to them,'What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.' 13 Then He said to the man,'Stretch out your hand!'He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other." Have you ever wondered about healing? The world has been filled with sick and otherwise injured people since the beginning of time. Why these people, at these moments in Scripture? What or who causes sickness? We try to excuse God, but He does not excuse Himself. The Lord asked, in Exodus 4:11, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?" As a race of beings, we have decided to go our own way, and sickness was allowed to show us our need of God. As He laments in Amos 4:10, "I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt... yet you have not returned to Me." And the other side of it: It wasn't the doctor or the medicine that healed you, it was the God of mercy, "Who healeth all thy diseases" (Psalm 103:3).
Verses 14-21: "But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. 15 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, 16 and warned them not to tell who He was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: 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 proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 He will not quarrel, nor cry out;
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. 20 A battered reed He will not break off,
and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. 21 And in His name the Gentiles will hope.'" Isn't this amazing? The Pharisees, the separated ones who were religious leaders among the Jewish people, responded to these miracles by deciding to kill Jesus. This is like recovering from a successful surgery which heals you, but instead of thanking the doctor, you attempt to kill him. Notice that Jesus had a time-table. He was to be revealed gradually, so He would die at just the right time, place and circumstances, as payment for our sins. As quoted from Isaiah 42:1-4, the Messiah Jesus would continually exhibit the gentle-strength of the Holy Spirit, in the events leading to the cross and upon the cross itself. All of this would lead to VICTORY over sin and death, including God's intention that the good news would reach outside of that little region and fill the hearts of Gentiles, all over the world. He is the Lord our Healer.
Verses 22-28: "Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. 23 All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, 'This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?' 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.' 25 And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them,'Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27 If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.'" The Jewish scribes taught that the Messiah would be the son of David (Mark 12:35). It was dawning on the people that Jesus was precisely the One they had waited for, all this time, and the Pharisees were quick to accuse Jesus of healing people by Satan (Beelzebul). Jesus once again threw his accusers into confusion, pointing out that it would be absurd for Satan to cast out his own followers, the demons. Jesus cast out those demons by God's Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God had come to earth and was right in front of these men who did not believe. The lost will be astonished to learn that the evidence was here all the time, brought by God into our midst, and those who do not believe will have no excuse.
Verses 29-32: "Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. 31 Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come." You are either with God's Holy Son, Jesus Christ, or you are against Him. You may have heard the phrase, "There is no middle ground," and it's never been more true than now. In being born into our midst, in dying for our sins, and coming visibly alive for us all, the Lord has bound the strong man, Satan. Your sins can and will be forgiven when you place your faith in the Lord Jesus. The Bible is the One Book of utter truth in this world. The words of Jesus are true, and doubly true because they emanated from the Throne of God through the Holy Spirit. Think carefully before you disparage a work that may be from God. If the work is from God, though it may differ from the work you are called to do, don't commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit by a quick denial of it. More than you think may depend on your decision.
Verses 33-37: "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." David really understood something important about God, observing about Him in Psalm 139:2, "You understand my thought afar off." Jesus had every spiritual gift offered to men and more, understanding the thoughts, the hearts of the supposedly religious men who surrounded Him at the moment. Look into your heart, the center of your being—remember that God sees what you see, and more. Do you find a need to change for the better? Then ask Him, place your faith in Him, and weep before Him, as you encounter your need for Jesus Christ. The "fruit" of the tree that you are, will become good, as you give yourself to Him, and you will not be condemned on the day of judgment.
Verses 38-42: "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, 'Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.' 39 But He answered and said to them,'An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.'" Isn't it fascinating that the deaf were hearing, many for the first time in their lives, the blind could see, paralyzed people were walking, lepers were made clean, and no doubt the crowds around Jesus were filled with those healed by our Lord... and yet the religious leaders asked for, demanded actually—a "sign." They had the signs of Old Testament Scripture: Jonah was kept alive inside a sea creature, and then the whole, great city of Nineveh repented at his words. And the Queen of Sheba made a long, arduous trip to hear the wisdom of God expressed through King Solomon. What sign do you want? The return of your loved one? Renewed health? Money to pay those bills? What do you want? It's OK to ask God for such things, but greater is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the One who sees your heart and will heal you deep inside. Unbelief is the greatest illness of all. Place your faith in the Lord and be healed.
Verses 43-45: "'Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.'" There are two stages listed here, not unlike a rocket to the moon lifts off by the first stage but then continues its journey with a second stage. To be delivered of unclean spirits at some kind of revival meeting is wonderful, but more is needed. The empty house will attract new tenants. To repent of your sins is terrific, but when the sickness is lifted from you, call to the Lord, tell Him you repent of your sins, though He already knows, and ask Him to come into your heart and life, filling the void like only He can. TRUST, BELIEVE, RECEIVE, and He will be yours—forever. The alternative is eternal loss.
Verses 46-50: "While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47 Someone said to Him, 'Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.' 48 But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said,'Who is My mother and who are My brothers?' 49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said,'Behold My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.'" These words are often shocking when read for the first time... we would all expect that the love of Jesus for His immediate family would be exemplary, an example for us all. And it was. He loved them, but the message here is this: When you give your heart to the Lord and become His, you become like His mother, His brother, His sister, His son and daughter. You are His, and He loves you as His own—forever.
Dear Lord Jesus, I am Yours. I am sorry for what I have done, and ask You to forgive me. Cast the sin and shame out of my life, save me, heal me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I give myself to You. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.