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| What was Jesus trying to teach people when He deliberately violated the Sabbath in order to heal people? |
Lord of the Sabbath
At that time, Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the grain fields. His disciples were hungry and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But the Pharisees, when they saw it, said to Him, "Behold, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath."
But He said to them, "Haven't you read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and ate the show bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law, that on the Sabbath day, the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless? But I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
He departed there, and went into their synagogue. And behold there was a man with a withered hand. They asked Him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?" that they might accuse Him.
He said to them, "What man is there among you, who has one sheep, and if this one falls into a pit on the Sabbath day, won't he grab on to it, and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day."Then He told the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out; and it was restored whole, just like the other. But the Pharisees went out, and conspired against Him, how they might destroy Him.
What was Jesus trying to teach people when He deliberately violated the Sabbath in order to heal people?
After the arrest of John the Baptist, the tide begins to turn against Jesus. The opposition, that is, the leaders of the Jews, step up their criticisms and their plans to destroy Him. And so in chapter 12 we discover first the accusation that Jesus and His disciples were violating the Sabbath (1-14), and then the accusation that Jesus did His miracles by the power of Satan (22-37), and then the demand for a sign from Jesus to prove who He was (38-45). In the first case Jesus refutes their accusation rather easily, but then withdraws to escape their plans to kill Him (15-21). In the second case Jesus powerfully destroys their argument and declares that they are condemning themselves. And then after they demand a sign, Jesus refuses, except for the sign of Jonah, which will be too late for what they want, for by then they will already be guilty of putting Him to death. The chapter ends with a strange episode in which Jesus appears to be rejecting His family (46-49); actually, He uses their visit to show that He is turning to people who believe in Him instead of the Jews who are His people. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him; and so to those who would receive Him He gave power to become the children of God.
We should read through chapter 12 to get the flow of where these episodes are going. But this study will focus on the first 14 verses of the chapter.
Observations on the Text:
First it will be helpful to lay out the structure of the material. We basically have two incidents, the grain field and the synagogue, verses 1-8 and 9-13 respectively. Verse 14 is the Pharisees’ response to both. In the first incident we have the report of the issue with the accusation (1, 2), followed by Jesus’ lengthy answer (3-8). In the second incident we have the report of the issue and the challenging question (9, 10), followed by Jesus’ answer and miracle (11-13). In both incidents the Pharisees were trying to catch Jesus in a violation of the Law in order to discredit Him. But in both cases Jesus demonstrated His superior knowledge of Scripture and His power. They could not argue with these, and so they sought to kill Him, legally of course.
Second, we should note that again the speeches are central to the meaning of the passage. The Pharisees speak twice, first in verse 2 to accuse Jesus’ disciples of breaking the Law, and again in verse 10 to challenge Jesus’ view of the Sabbath laws. They were put down by Jesus’ answer in the first case, and so they were cautious about confronting Him again and instead set Him up and asked what He would do.
Jesus’ speeches are, of course, the heart of this passage’s revelation. His first reply to the accusation is with questions, designed to show their failure to understand the Law. He then rebukes them for not understanding what Scripture meant about showing mercy. And finally He claimed to be LORD of the Sabbath. The way these different sayings build on one another shows that as LORD of the Sabbath He alone understands the laws about the Sabbath.
In Jesus’ second reply Jesus does not appeal to Scripture, but to their own customs which were written in their teachings. He uses a common Jewish way of reasoning, from the lesser to the greater, if it is true of the lesser; it is certainly true of the greater. The argument is worded with “How much more . . . .” We will look at this more, but for now it is worth noting that He uses their own “laws” against them.
Jesus final speech is the simple command to the man to stretch out his hand. Here Jesus shows His authority as the Creator, and if the Creator, then the LORD of the Sabbath.
Third, the contrasts in the use of the Law are interesting. In the first place the disciples are hungry and so eat from the wheat fields. The legalists want them condemned for violating a law. In the end of the passage Jesus restores full life to the man, and the legalists want to put Him to death. In both cases the enemies of Christ show that they do not desire mercy, and that they have missed the spirit of the Law which is life. They are spiritual frauds who seek power over the people, and over Christ-
And fourth, we should not miss the fact that these events followed on the end of chapter 11 pretty closely. Jesus had just then called on people to abandon the teaching authority of the scribes and Pharisees and follow His teachings, because He alone could give them rest for their souls. His charge would continue to be that the Pharisees laid burdens on people that they could not handle. So in this chapter the Pharisees are challenging His authority as a teacher in Israel. If they can show that He violates the Law, then He is discredited. But in the process, they are discredited. But this chapter shows the disciples how they should learn of Christ, and not from the Pharisees.
Background to the Text:
There are other things that may be observed as well, such as Jesus’ use of the Old Testament, and of their laws. But these will be discussed in the analysis of the text.
The study of a passage like this also calls for a bit of study of the Sabbath day laws. You can read about this in a good Bible dictionary, or in a good biblical theology. The Law simply said that Israel was to remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy (set apart to God and His service). They could do their ordinary labor for six days, but on the Sabbath they were to stop. In fact, the Hebrew word shabat means “to cease” more than it does “to rest.” The idea of “rest” is more like coming to rest, stopping. The observance was for Israel the sign of the covenant made at Sinai with the LORD the Creator. Since He worked for six days and “rested” the seventh, they were to pattern their life after that. Obviously, God did not “rest” in the sense of needing to restore His strength; it was a celebration of all His work of creation.
As an aside, it is important for Christians to know that the Sabbath was the sign of the Old Covenant, not the New Covenant (or Testaments as we call them). The covenants are very different, and the signs indicate that. The Old Covenant was the Law, and it was based on the Creator. The sign looked back to creation’s Sabbath. The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant, and it looks forward to eternal redemption. Its sign is the cup of the New Covenant which Jesus institutionalized in the upper room. Because Jesus fulfilled the Law in His life and His death, all Old Testament laws have to be interpreted through His fulfillment. Sacrifices and ritual and holy days, all change with Christ. So believers today are not bound to keep the Sabbath Day because we have a New Covenant.
The Sabbath for us is interpreted through the Christ event, when we believe in Jesus, we enter into the rest He promised (Matt. 11:28), which is the eternal Sabbath. Every day is to be sanctified to the Lord as a day of spiritual rest; the whole life is a Sabbath fulfillment. And in the age to come there will be a restoration of the whole Sabbath with the removal of the curse. Paul teaches that the Christian is not to observe holy days in a legalistic way. They are helpful for instruction and meditation, but not legally binding. But the Christian is to live out the spirit of the Law, what those regulations were intended to convey. And so a sanctified life given to the Lord and lived out in salvation’s rest from anxious toil and spiritual works is what should characterize the believer who has entered into the Sabbath rest (see Hebrews 3, 4). A simplistic and legalistic observance of a “Christian Sabbath” is not the way to sanctification.
Analysis of the Text:
I. In response to legalistic criticism, Jesus declares that He is LORD of the Sabbath (1-8). This is the essence of the first incident in the chapter, and the main point of the whole section.
First, there is the incident (1, 2). The act that triggered the whole discussion was a simple one, they were walking through the field and the disciples snacked on some of the heads of grain because they were hungry. On the surface it would appear no more a work than sitting at a table and eating.
But the legalistic Pharisees were bent on discrediting Jesus, and so they accused them of violating the Sabbath day. How was this violation of the Sabbath Law? If you look at the Ten Commandments, this hardly seems like the labor they were to cease to set the day apart for God. The only way it could be considered a violation is that the Jewish teachers had made lists of things that would be helpful in determining what the works were that should stop.
Whenever the text of Scripture seems unclear, it may be for a purpose, that God expects people to act by faith and determine the application. But there are always religious teachers who cannot abide by that, and they make the detailed applications. That would be fine, except those applications often get elevated to the status of authoritative Scripture. For the Sabbath the religious teachers had come up with a list of things that should not be done on the holy days; they were later recorded in the Mishnah (tractate “Shabbath”) as thirty-eight forbidden works. One of them was reaping the harvest. So; apparently taking the heads of the grain off the stocks was considered a work, and a violation of the Law.
But it was only a violation of the law as their interpretation, not as God had written it. Jesus’ answer will get to the spirit of the Law, which they had completely missed in their effort to make legal clarifications. To be fair, not all religious leaders in Jesus’ day would have agreed with the interpretation of these Pharisees, but they held the leadership and so spoke for the group. Later, this particular activity was allowed on the Sabbath, but that was much later and perhaps influenced by Christianity.
Second, we have Jesus’ response (3-8). In this response there are several different arguments being used. The immediate one is the case of David’s eating the bread in the sanctuary. You will have to go back and read the story in all its details. The story is in 1 Samuel 21:1-6; and the references for the bread in the tabernacle are in Exodus 25:30 and Leviticus 24:5-9. The twelve loaves of bread were placed on the table inside the tent of the tabernacle, in the holy place, and were only to be eaten by the sanctified priests. But David and his men, running from Saul, stopped at the sanctuary when it was in Nob and ate the bread, perhaps reasoning that they were on a holy mission, or that it was a matter of life and death.
In referring to this incident Jesus is not trying to argue the case for or against David by saying there were rules but David was permitted to break the rules. His point is that Scripture nowhere condemns David for doing this. If David could break the laws of holiness and eat from the holy food in the sanctuary and Scripture not condemn him, then why His disciples should not be allowed to eat from the grain on a Saturday?
Jesus is not justifying the disciples’ act, for it is not obvious that they broke any law in the Law. Rather, Jesus is dealing with the Pharisees interpretation of the Law in general, showing that He is the more knowledgeable teacher and that people should come to Him.
In the story in Samuel, the regulations of the Law were set aside for David and his companions. Jesus is building the case that He is greater than David, and so regulations (legitimate or not) can be set aside for Him and His companions too.
Jesus’ second argument is from the Law in general (Num. 28:9-10); technically, the priests violated the Law every Sabbath by the work that they did. Of course the priests were not guilty, because the same Law that ruled on the Sabbath made them priests. Since the Law established their duties, the Law established the right of the priests to break the Law and to do some pretty hard work at the altar.
Jesus uses this to argue; from the lesser to the greater by analogy: If that was permitted for the priests; how much more for someone greater than the priests or the temple itself. His analogy works only because He actually is greater than the temple and the priests. And the argument of the gospel is that Jesus and His kingdom are greater than the temple and all the priests and prophets and kings of the past. The point that Jesus makes then, is that in the Old Testament the laws of Sabbath were superseded by the duties of the priests, and so in His day the laws of the Sabbath were superseded by His duties as the Messiah and Redeemer. It shows there is a greater authority present than the ordinary leaders. Because the Son of Man was present, the Law would be superseded. His temple represented the presence of God with His people; but the presence of Jesus meant that God was with them in mortal flesh.
And so Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for missing the point of the Law, which is mercy (see Hos. 6:6). The spirit of the Law was life and peace with God and at the heart of that was mercy. But they were so worked up over the cultic ritual laws that they missed the spirit of the Law. They really did not understand the Law because they were so busy looking at details, mostly prohibitions in this case. But now as accusers they stood accused. And the accused, the disciples, were declared innocent because the one greater than the Temple was there.
To refer to Himself as the LORD of the Sabbath means that He can handle the Sabbath laws any way that He wants, or can supersede them in the same way that the temple service of priests superseded Sabbath observance. As LORD of the Sabbath Jesus is the Son of Man, the divine Creator, the covenant God. And as LORD of the Sabbath Jesus the Messiah has authority over the temple too.
II. In response to the challenge from the Pharisees, Jesus healed on the Sabbath and demonstrated the importance of mercy (9-13). The second part could be taken as a separate Bible study, but since it overlaps so much the two can be taken together. Luke 6:6-11 indicates it was on another Sabbath; but Matthew has combined the two to make his point.
First, the incident in chapters 9 and 10 reads that Jesus went into the synagogue and there was a man there with a shriveled hand. Matthew says that the leaders were looking for a way to accuse Jesus, and so they asked Him if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. The focus now will be on Him and not the disciples; on something He would actually do, and in some detail on the enemies’ opposition.
Second, we have Jesus’ answer (11-13) The early Jews discussed at great length the question that they asked Jesus now. In general, it was fine to cure on the Sabbath Day if it was an emergency. Their question was whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath; and Jesus argued that it was lawful, not that it was required. According to Jewish teaching while healing was permitted in some cases on the Sabbath, the patient had to be dying, or the situation life threatening. And that does not seem to be the case here, unless one were to argue that it was a matter of life and death, and that by healing him Jesus was rescuing his soul as well. But Jesus makes the analogy that if they had a sheep that fell into a pit they would lift it out on a Sabbath day, how much more a human in trouble. Neither the man with the withered hand, nor the sheep in the pit, were in danger of losing their life. So it was a matter of doing a good deed on the holy day. He knew that in principle they practiced that, but now were simply trying to accuse Him of violating their law.
Then Jesus healed the man. The healing comes after Jesus’ bold words about Himself and about His authority over the Sabbath day. But the miracle authenticates His powerful words, and in Matthew’s presentation of the order it also authenticates His prior claim of being LORD of the Sabbath.
III. The Pharisees plot to kill Jesus (14). Finally, the outcome of the exchange is that the Pharisees wanted to put Jesus to death (14). A lot of scholars do not think the Pharisees would have done this over a different interpretation of legal teaching, and that instead of “kill” it meant banish from the synagogue. But the point, of course, is that it is not merely a dispute over interpretation, but over the identity and authority of who Jesus is. The text is clear that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, and claimed to have authority, and demonstrated it by His powerful works. And in the process He showed that He cared not for the numerous, detailed rulings that the Jewish teachings put in place, they were an added burden to what the Law had originally had in place. The disagreement over the Sabbath did not cause them to plot His death; it was the occasion for it based on His claims to be the Lord of the Sabbath. They were opposed to Him personally.
The point the passage is making is best expressed by Jesus’ own claim that He is the LORD of the Sabbath. That means that He is the one who instituted it and He is the one who rules over it. He of all people would then know what the intent of the Sabbath day was, mercy, and not simply a day to avoid work. He never intended it to be subjected to a myriad of legalistic rulings. It was a day for celebration and refreshment and communion with the LORD.
But as LORD of the Sabbath Jesus had authority over all creation, including all people. He demonstrated that authority with His claims, and authenticated it with His mighty works, here the healing of the man with the withered hand. They understand His claim; they saw His mighty works. They either had to submit to His authority, or try to get rid of Him. Unfortunately for them they pursued the latter.
Correlation with Scripture:
We have already noted the passages in Samuel, and Exodus and Hosea that were brought into the discussion.
There are a number of other passages in the Gospels which record Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish leaders over the Sabbath day. It looks very much like He is pushing them on the matter, choosing to do things on the holy day that violated their rulings, but not the Law of God. These passages should be read and compared to get the whole picture of Christ is doing.
Perhaps the best New Testament passage that captures this passage’s message, and those other conflicts as well, is the one that comes in Jesus’ rebuke of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. In Matthew 23:23 he tells how legalistic they were in the way they tithed meticulously, but in so doing they had neglected the weightier matters of the Law: justice, mercy and faithfulness. It is one thing for people to try to live obediently to the word of God, but it is quite another if they pour all their energy into that and fail to do positive acts of justice, mercy and faithfulness. Jesus said that God desired mercy and not sacrifice. Actually, He wants both, but the ritual without mercy misses the whole point.
And if the Sabbath day was designed as a day of mercy from God, a time of rest and restoration, of celebration and service for God, then feeding the hungry, rescuing a sheep, healing a man would all be harmonious with that day.
There are probably a number of applications that have begun to form in your mind already. Here are a few major ones to consider:
1. Commitment to the authority of Christ. These passages are all designed to reveal the person and work of Jesus, here as Lord of Sabbath, i.e., the sovereign creator and sustainer of life. When studying these kinds of passages the believer should renew his or her own faith in Christ. It should be an inspiration to greater allegiance and greater faith, that is, to praise and adoration of Him, and to obedience and prayer to Him.
2. Avoidance of legalism. Legalism is not simply keeping laws, but is a self-righteous attitude. The legalist thinks he is righteous, and so anyone who does not conform to his idea of what righteousness is must be a guilty sinner. Legalism usually plays out with interpretations of Scripture, not actual Scripture. For example, some legalists today define what worldliness is, although they list things that the Bible does not mention; and whoever does not abide by their understanding is in sin.
Now let’s be careful here, because where the Bible is clear on a sin or particular sins the Christian is to try to avoid such things and is to warn others with love and concern. Obeying Scripture is not legalism. God demands it. But there will always be some libertarians who will call you a legalist if you remind them what Scripture says. But that is not what we mean here by self-righteous legalism (of course, that warning can be given with a self-righteous spirit, so let’s be careful).
Here the Pharisees had a whole list of “laws” they had made based generally on Scripture. And those became the test or righteousness. Paul deals with this in a lot of his epistles; regarding judging others with respect to holy days, eating various foods, and other practices. Christians are to try to live obediently to Christ; if they find others who are doing the same but take a different application from some Scripture, we must be careful to acknowledge their faith and convictions.
3. Doing acts of mercy. What a contrast: the Pharisees are there criticizing and challenging Jesus, and eventually plotting to kill Him. That is obviously a terrible religious state to be in, for it opposes what is good and merciful. The point that Jesus makes is that that attitude nullifies any sacrifice or ritual they had made. His instruction is from Hosea: God desires mercy. People should be looking for objects of mercy, not objects to criticize. If they were busy with that, the Church would be a much better place.
And if there is a doubtful thing, and we are not sure if we should or should not do something (it is a matter of personal conviction), say, for example, like helping someone move on a Sunday (which would be offensive to a lot of Christians), the guideline here seems to say it would be better to “err” (if that is what it looks like) on the side of mercy, not self-righteous legalism.
Lord of the Sabbath. 12:1-14.
I. Plucking grain on the Sabbath. 12:1-8.
A. The Disciples and the Pharisees. 12:1-2.
The Pharisees do not object to the plucking as such (see Deut 23:25), but to the fact that it is done on the Sabbath (see Ex 34:21). "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath" (v. 2b); the question of Mk and Lk is heightened into an accusation in Mt.
B. Jesus and the Pharisees.
1. Jesus' reference to David, 12:3-4. Both here and in vv. 5 and 7, Jesus appeals to the OT, His antagonists' prime authority (note the ouk anegn©te, vv. 3, 5). For the story of David and his men, see 1 Sam 21:1-6. Jesus makes nothing of the fact that the bread in question "had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away" (21:6b), nor of the Midrashic tradition that the episode occurred on the Sabbath. He simply identifies the bread as "consecrated" and thus unlawful for any but priests to eat (12:4; cf. Lev 24:9a, "It belongs to Aaron and his sons"; 1 Sam 21:6a, "So the priest gave him the consecrated bread"). Jesus affirms the correctness of what David did, and thus upholds the OT (cf. 5:17).
2. Laws moral and ceremonial. Jesus, moreover, affirms the superiority of the Moral Law over the Ceremonial. The Sabbath Law itself belongs to the former. Certain ceremonial laws were added on the basis of the Fourth Commandment, to stipulate practical ways of honoring the day and protecting it from profanation. Yet significantly "the Decalogue ...does not include rules for the offering of sacrifices"
Moreover, David's action upholds the Sixth Commandment, which calls for the sustaining of human life. David honors this commandment by acting to relieve his and his men's physical needs ("what David did when he and his companions were hungry?" 12:3), needs likely to have been far more acute than usual, since David and his men were fugitives. The disciples too are honoring the Sixth Commandment by plucking grain to satisfy their hunger.
3. Jesus' reference to the priests, v. 5. The argument of v. 5 is an halachic addition to the haggadic argument of vv. 3-4. Jesus refers to the priests' habit of changing the shewbread on the Sabbath (Lev 24:8; 1 Sam 21:6b), and of doubling the burnt offering on the Sabbath (Num 28:9-10). Thus by the standard of the Fourth Commandment the priests "desecrate the day" (12:5b). Yet they are "innocent" (v. 5c), because their actions are stipulated by the Mosaic Law itself.
4. Jesus' argument from the lesser to the greater (qal wahomer), vv. 6-8.
a. The "something greater." In v. 6 Jesus declares that "something greater [for the neuter meizon] than the temple is here." Interpreted strictly as a neuter (NIV mg.), the coming of the kingdom itself is meant. But "the neuter gender may refer to a person...provided that the emphasis is less on the individual than on some outstanding general quality..." (Nigel Turner, A Grammar of NT Greek, 3: 21). In this case Jesus might be referring to Himself as the One who ushers in the kingdom, the One on whose account it comes. Thus NIV renders, "one greater than the temple."
b. The quotation from Hos 6:6. Having referred to the Former Prophets (vv. 3-4) and to the Pentateuch (v. 5), Jesus now quotes from the Latter Prophets (and for the second time from Hos 6:6; see comments on Mt 9:13). Hos 6:6a states in an arresting way (as needed in the face of Israel's excessive dependence on the cult) the supremacy of hesed (covenant-keeping love and loyalty) over sacrifice, not hesed's exclusion of the cult (Cf. 1 Sam 15:22 (which Hosea had in mind), "Does Yahweh delight in offerings and sacrifices/ As much as in obedience to the voice of Yahweh?". Moreover, the parallel statement of Hos 6:6b ("and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings") makes it clear that the hesed begins with love and loyalty to God (cf. Hos 4:1b).
Thus, in quoting Hos6:6 Jesus declares that the Pharisees' hostile response to the disciples' action proceeds from a concern for religious ritual which has been divorced from the right relationship to God. Jesus is implying something more: namely, that had the Pharisees been rightly related to God based on the right reading of the OT, they would have been recognized Immanuel when He came.
Indeed the recognition of who Jesus really is, is essential if a person (whether a Pharisee or someone else) is to accept the contention that "something greater than the temple is here," or that the disciples are indeed "innocent."
c. Jesus' argument. Having looked at some particulars of vv. 6-7, we can now see how vv. 6-8 climax the argument that Jesus began in vv. 3-5.3
(i) The Temple is greater than the Sabbath, as shown by the fact that, within the OT context, the demand for priestly work in the temple overrode the Sabbath law, v. 5.
(ii) The Son of Man is greater than the Temple, v. 6.
(iii) Therefore He is greater than the Sabbath as well. Indeed, He is "Lord of the Sabbath" (v. 8).
(iv) As the Lord of the Sabbath, which means as Yahweh, the God who revealed the Mosaic Law, including the Decalogue, Jesus has the right to say whatever He chooses about the Sabbath. Moreover, He has the supreme and unique right to expound the Sabbath Law in the light of, and on the basis of, the dawn of the New Age, just as He did in the case of other OT laws in 5:21-48.
There are two aspects to His present treatment of Sabbath Law. On the one hand, Jesus abrogates existing Sabbath ceremonial. In defending His disciples' action and declaring them "innocent" (the opening "for," gar, of v. 8 links this pronouncement with v. 7), Jesus forecasts the end of OT ceremonial. The prohibition of "harvesting" no longer applies (cf. below on 15:1-20).
On the other hand, Jesus upholds the Fourth Commandment. His very declaration that He is "Lord of the Sabbath," affirms the ongoing reality and validity of the Sabbath Day. The abrogation of the ceremonial prescriptions recalls attention to the foundational law in the Decalogue, and thus reminds the people of God that the Sabbath is His good gift (not something He does to us but something He provides for us), an expression of His own hesed, designed to foster a deepened relationship with Him (which is the essence of the covenant). The effect of God's initiative is an answering hesed from man, both to God (praise and worship) and to man (beneficent actions bringing blessing both to oneself, v. 1, and to others, v. 12b, "It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath"; cf. II. below). Precisely how one keeps the Sabbath will be governed by love of God and of neighbor (22:34-40; cf. Rom 13:8-10; chs. 14-15).
II. Healing on the Sabbath. 12:9-14.
A. The Pharisees' Opposition.
The conflict is now heightened between Jesus and the Pharisees ("they," v. 10, = "the Pharisees," v. 14), because of Jesus' pronouncements in vv. 3-8, and because in the present episode Jesus Himself is guilty of a Sabbath infraction (which accords with the enemy's design, v. 10b). The Pharisees of course did not object to healing per se, but to such a healing on the Sabbath. "Rabbinic law allowed medical help on the Sabbath where life was immediately endangered....
Obviously, the healing of a withered hand could wait a day". Cf. Lk 13:14, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."
B. Jesus' Response.
1. His words. Jesus again uses a qal wahomer argument. There is no OT sanction for the act described in v. 11; but rabbinic law permitted rescuing animals on the Sabbath. "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!" says Jesus, a statement the Pharisees could not question, given its validation in the OT (starting with Gen 1-2). There is an eschatological factor too: as the Sabbath crowned God's creative activity, so the dawn of the Kingdom of God was the great Sabbath of Israel's expectation (cf. Heb). Implicit in Jesus' argument, and especially in His affirmation that "it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" (v. 12b), is that with the dawn of the New Age it is especially appropriate for Messiah to do such gracious acts on the Sabbath, a vivid way to signal the arrival of the Sabbath Age. NB Lk 13:16.
2. His action. In concert with the pronouncement of v. 12, Jesus heals the man, v. 13. The account of the actual healing is short, even by Matthean standards. All that Matthew has affirmed in chs. 8-9 about Jesus' authority to heal, is presupposed here. It is noteworthy that Mt reflects no one particular pattern or method of healing for Jesus; in this episode there is no direct reference to Jesus' words or actions, or to the man's faith. It is enough for Matthew to record the complete healing of the hand. In stark contrast to this complete restoration, is the Pharisees' plot to destroy Jesus (apollymi, v. 14b; NIV's "kill" is inadequate).
Matthew 12:1-14 The Lord of the Sabbath
We recently completed our study of Matthew chapter 11 and we had commented on the fact that after Matthew 10, which reports Christ's instructions to the disciples before they went out on their first mission, we might have expected Matthew chapter 11 to be a report back to Christ from the apostles of their activities and the results of their evangelism. And yet, we found that chapter 11 focuses on Christ. It focuses on His majesty as the Messiah. It shows Him in various scenes: In the encounter with the John the Baptist, and offering blessings unto those who are weary and heavy laden. In each of the scenes of Matthew chapter 11 Christ's majesty as the Messiah is the theme and the focus.
There is a link between Matthew 12 and Matthew 11. First of all, in verse 1, we'll notice the words "at this time," or "now at this time," indicating that the events of Matthew chapter 12 were close in proximity to the things that happened in Matthew chapter 11. So you have a link in timing. But there is also a link in content, because at the very end of Matthew chapter 11 the Lord Jesus Christ had called all those to come to Him who are weary and heavy laden, and He promised to them that His yoke was easy and His burden was light. In other words, in contrast to the religious legalism of the Pharisees of His day, He was offering a way of holiness that was not filled and encumbered with the inventions and traditions of man-made law. And so He called those who were burdened with this kind of man-made legalism to follow Him and take upon them His yoke which was light and His burden which was easy.
And here we have in the first 14 verses of Matthew chapter 12 an illustration of that very principle as the Lord Jesus sets forth the true meaning of the fourth commandment in contrast to the perversion of that commandment by the legalistic teaching of the Pharisees in His day. Let's look then at God's holy word in Matthew chapter 12 beginning in verse 1.
Thus ends this reading of God's holy and inspired word. May He add His blessing to it. Let's look to Him again in prayer: Our Father, we bow before You honoring this word, because it is Your word. It comes from Your own lips. We would ask that You would apply it to our own hearts in our own circumstances as You please. Search out secret sins in our hearts in this area. Grow us in grace towards a more perfect practice of holiness in these areas. Teach us, we pray, by the spirit. For we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
This passage is a very, very hard passage for us to even begin to understand today. Because of all the tendencies of our generation, rigorous sabbatarianism is not one of them. None of us have ever met a rigorous Sabbatarian. We have a hard time even conceiving the mindset of the Pharisees. Let’s share briefly where some of their rigor may have come from. The book of Chronicles and the book of Jeremiah tell us that the reason, or one of the reasons, why the children of Israel were sent into exile, into captivity, is that they had not observed the Sabbath. And when Israel came back out of captivity, it is very apparent that the rabbis and teachers were determined that Israel was not going to make that mistake twice. And so, over a period of 400 or 500 years, an entire tradition had accrued of how one was to keep the Sabbath, with hundreds and hundreds of laws and hair-splitting distinctions. Furthermore, the keeping of the Sabbath was considered to be an outward mark of great piety.
That's very different from our culture. Most Christians in America don't even believe in the Sabbath. We have no idea of the mindset that Jesus was facing in His own day. So we need to do a little extra work to understand what was going on in this exchange.
It is clear throughout this exchange in the first 14 verses, that these men, these Pharisees were not ultimately concerned too much for the Law. Get that straight. The problem with Pharisees is not that they care too much about the Law. It's not that they're too nitpicky. It's that they think that they care a great deal about the law when, in fact, they don't care about it all in their hearts.
And understand that Jesus' response to these people gave Him the opportunity to do three things simultaneously.
First of all, He was able to respond to their formalism, their tendency to have outward spirituality. A form of spirituality without inward godliness. So He was responding to their formalism. Their ritualism. Their religious legalism.
Secondly, the Lord Jesus conveys in this passage a true Christian approach to the fourth commandment.
And then thirdly, He manifests in this passage His own divine authority by calling Himself the Lord of the Sabbath.
I. A divinely appointed religions institution can be misused.
This passage breaks into four parts, and in verses 1 and 2, we see this truth. Even a divinely appointed religious institution can be misused. In this passage, Jesus and His disciples are walking through the grain fields. It is a Lord's day. It is a Saturday. It is a Sabbath day. And they're walking through the grain fields on the way to synagogue and on the way to do works of mercy. And as they do so the disciples become hungry, and so they begin to pick heads of grain from the grain itself and rub it between their palms and eat it for food. And the Pharisees see this and they take that as an opportunity to accuse Christ of having mistaught His disciples and of having led them into a less than pious behavior.
The disciples, however, were not breaking the commandments. Jesus Himself, in verse 7, says to the Pharisees that they were innocent of breaking the 4th commandment. So let's just realize from the start that the disciples were not breaking the 4th commandment. If Jesus had broken the 4th commandment, and encouraged His disciples to break the 4th commandment, we would still be in our sins, because He had to live perfectly under the law of God in order that we might be justified freely by His grace. So the Lord Jesus isn't encouraging His disciples in the breaking of the 4th commandment. He says they are innocent.
The disciples weren't stealing either. We may ask yourself, “What were these people doing walking through somebody else's grain field and picking the grain?” We see in Deuteronomy 23:25, that God had made a provision for people just like the disciples. For those who were poor, they were allowed to go into another's grain field, and they were allowed to pick with their hands the grain. They were not allowed to take the scythe to the grain. They were not allowed to reap a large harvest. But they were allowed to pick with their hands the grain in order to assuage their hunger. And the disciples were apparently in that circumstance. They were hungry, and so according to the law, they picked some of the grain and ate it.
But the Pharisees were there looking for an opportunity to attack Jesus' teaching and His practices. It's clear from the very beginning of this passage, that these men's intentions were evil. These folks were not looking to uphold God's law; they were looking to tear down the messiah. And so we learn from this passage that even divinely appointed religious means, like the Lord's day, like the Sabbath, can be misused. Evil men can hold to the outward form, and yet miss the whole point, the inner spirit of the law. And so their attack gives Jesus an opportunity to respond to their formalism. He accuses them of misunderstanding and of misusing the law of God later in this passage. And passage, this attack, gives Him the opportunity to convey His positive teaching about the Lord's Day, and even to make a singular manifestation of His own divine authority.
Isn't God's providence amazing? They had designed an ambush, and the Lord Jesus used it to teach His disciples, and us, something very important about the heart of a disciple.
II. Works of necessity are lawful on the Lord’s Day.
The second part of this passage is found in verses 3-5. And we learn there that Jesus teaches that works of necessity are lawful and appropriate on the Lord's Day. Notice His words there, as the Pharisees accuse Jesus' disciples of breaking the 4th commandment: Jesus goes to two Old Testament examples to show that they were not breaking the commandment. He argues, first of all, that strict observation of the ceremonial law is no excuse for ignoring neighbor love. In other words, you cannot ignore the love of your neighbor under the pretense of being so concerned about the observation of God's ceremonial law that you don't have time to love your neighbor. And He goes to two passages to prove it.
First, in verses 3 and 4, He tells us the story of David and the show bread, or David and the bread of presence, David and the consecrated bread. We remember there was bread that was put in the temple that was consecrated to be before the Lord. It was even numbered. And it was to represent the Lord's provision for His people, and it was to represent the presence of the people before the Lord, and the Lord's presence with them. That bread, after it had finished its time in the temple, was given to the priests, and to the priests alone. Only the priests could eat that bread. But in 1 Samuel 21:1-6, David and his men had to flee from persecution. They were in the wilderness. They'd had to leave hastily and so they had no provisions. They showed up at the tabernacle, and the priest, Ahimelech, let them in and gave them the show bread to eat. He gave them the consecrated bread. And the Lord Jesus is saying; now look, in the Old Testament that consecrated bread wasn't to be eaten by anybody, even the king, only the priests. And yet, in a time of necessity it was lawful for the priest to give that bread to David and his men, because they were in need. In other words, the law of neighbor love dictated that even that ceremonial ordinance that God had appointed could be forgone in order to show neighbor love. Jesus is arguing this if it was lawful for a divinely ordained ceremonial provision to be set aside in order to meet the needs of David's men, then surely, it is acceptable for the Son of God, Himself, to set aside the Pharisees man-made lists of Sabbath rules in order for His own men to eat food. The Lord Jesus is arguing on the basis of the Old Testament that His disciples have not broken the Sabbath.
And then in verse 5, He goes on to give another Old Testament argument. He asks, what about the priests? If merely cessation from work is the thrust of the Sabbath, if the ultimate goal of the Sabbath is to get people not to do certain things, that is, if the Sabbath is ultimately primarily negative, then how do you reconcile the priests’ work in the temple? He says in the Old Testament the priests worked on the Sabbath. They had to prepare the services. They had to administer the services. They had to distribute the incense. They had a lot of work to do. The priests and Levites worked on the Lord's Day. And so, He argues, that if the priests of the temple worked lawfully on the Lord's Day, then what about someone working for necessity with the Lord Jesus Christ.
He's poking fun at them about 2 things. First of all, He's suggesting that they really don't understand their Old Testament that well. These were men who prided themselves on scriptural knowledge. And He's poking at them. He's saying, why is it that you don't know these things? Haven't you read your bibles? It's like saying to someone with a Ph.D in theology, “Have you ever read your Bible before?” And secondly, in a few moments, He's going to claim that He's greater than the temple. And He's going to argue if the priests could work in the temple on the Lord's Day, cannot the disciples of the Lord Jesus do deeds of necessity when someone greater than the temple is present?
Jesus is teaching that religious obedience is never an excuse to ignore human need. He is saying that our first table responsibilities to love God are never an excuse to ignore our second table responsibilities to love man. The first tables of the law, the first four commandments, are all about loving God. The second tables of the law, the last six commandments, are about loving our neighbor. And the Lord Jesus is saying you can never use loving God as an excuse for ignoring to love your neighbor.
Jesus is exposing the hearts of these men. Their problem is not that they care too much about the law. Their problem is that they care only about parts of the law, and they have missed the whole spirit of the law.
III. Jesus asserts His divine authority as the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system.
In the third section of this passage in verses 6-8 we learn another truth. Not only that even divinely appointed religious means can be abused, not only that deeds of necessity are lawful on the Lord's day, but we learn in verses 6-8 that Jesus asserts His divine authority as the fulfillment of the Old Testament ceremonial system and as the Lord of the Old Testament ceremonial system. Jesus asserts His divine authority in this passage.
Notice three things that He says in 6-8. First of all, He says, “but I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.” Christ is standing before these men and He is saying, “I am greater than the temple.” What did the temple symbolize in the Old Testament? The temple symbolized the presence of God with His people. Christ is saying, “I am greater than the temple for in Me God is with you.” And He is saying, “By the way, if it was lawful for the priests in the temple because the temple symbolized that central truth of the presence of God with His people, if it was lawful for those priests to work on the Lord's day, then surely it is lawful for My disciples to do deeds of necessity and mercy on the Lord's Day when I, who am greater than the temple, am present.” The Lord Jesus is reminding us of His lordship. He fulfills the meaning of the temple. And so if the priests worked, so also can His disciples.
Secondly, in verse 7, He says, “If you had known what it means, ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” Jesus is saying in that passage that the Pharisees don't even understand the law. The thing that they are the proudest about is that they are masters of the law, they are great interpreters of the law, that they know the law up one side and down the other, and Jesus is saying, “You know, your problem is that you don't understand the law. You've missed the whole point. You've missed the whole spirit of the law.” And He quotes to them Hosea 6:6. By the way that's a passage that Matthew has quoted before. But He goes to Hosea 6:6 and He says, if you had understood this, “I desire compassion and not sacrifice,” then they would have understood that observance of the law is not just something that is external. It's not just something that is outward. It's something that proceeds from the heart. And furthermore, the ceremonial law cannot be used as an excuse for failing to be compassionate and for failing to love. Once again, you cannot use the first table of the law as an excuse to ignore the second table of the law. Jesus is attacking their formalism here.
And then in verse 8 He says, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. Christ is saying that He is the Lord and the master of the Sabbath Day. It is His day. And He is the one who determines what is lawful to do on that day. Again, Jesus is assaulting the formality, the formalism of the Pharisees. Far from exalting the law, they are making a mockery of it. They try and make an outward show of being godly, but in their hearts they have no compassion.
And Jesus' lordship over the Sabbath Day, and Jesus' lordship period is the very foundation of true Christian freedom. We do not feel a burden by what God commands us to do, because Christ has freed us to obey that which God has called us to obey. Christ has not freed us to obey the doctrines and commandments of men. He has freed us from the doctrines and commandments of men. And so we can rejoice that it is never burdensome to keep the Lord's commandments and it is always burdensome to feel bound to keep the inventions of men. The Lord Jesus has given us freedom, and He has made His day a glorious day for us, for we obey His word and not the inventions of men.
IV. Works of mercy and lawful and appropriate on the Lord’s Day.
And that leads us to the fourth section of the passage in verses 9-14. There we learn that Jesus teaches that works of mercy are lawful and appropriate on the Lord's Day. In this passage, Jesus both speaks to deeds of necessity and deeds of mercy, and He shows that they are lawful on His day. Isn't it interesting the contrast in verses 9-14 between Jesus and the Pharisees? He goes into a synagogue, and He sees a man with a withered hand, a hand which was non-functional, and immediately His heart of compassion is moved, and He wants to see that man restored. The Pharisees at the same time, want to do two things and two things only: they want to find out if He holds to the traditions of the rabbis, and they want to know how they can catch Him in something they can accuse Him of that will cause Him to lose face in front of people. Isn't that amazing? Here is a man with a withered hand and arm, and Jesus has compassion for Him. While these men, these supposedly godly men, all they can think about is not that man and His need but criticizing the Messiah and accusing Him in such a way to discredit Him.
We immediately see who cares more about God's law. Is it the Pharisees? Do they care more about God's law than Jesus? No. Jesus demonstrates the spirit of the law in His attitude towards that man with the withered hand. The Pharisees are only concerned about how to catch Him. The Pharisees have a warped scale of values. And that becomes so apparent in the story that Jesus says in verses 11 and 12, “If one of you had an animal that fell into a pit, on the Lord's Day, you'd pull him out, but won't you help this man.” They had provisions whereby you could help a distressed animal, and yet, they had no place for helping a human being.
There were apparently very prevalent traditions of the rabbis in Jesus' times which said, if there was a person who was in danger of dying, well then you could give that person medical attention on the Sabbath. But if the person wasn't in danger of dying, you couldn't give him medical attention on the Sabbath. You had to wait until the next day. And these Pharisees wanted to know if Jesus went along with that. And He says to them, you would care for animals better than you would care for this human. And so the Lord Jesus Christ rebukes them. They show no love in their hearts towards this needy man. They have no compassion. Jesus contrasts for us their heart and His. We see an ultimate contrast between the heart of Jesus and the heart of the Pharisees here. Jesus is healing while they are conspiring to destroy Him. Who loves the law more? There's no contest there. Jesus is the one who loves God's law.
Jesus teaches us in this passage that showing mercy is always right. We must never allow our concern for religious duties to make us think that we do not have responsibility to show mercy. "Ethical conduct is ever far more important than ceremonial obedience," William Hendrickson says. We must never use religion as an excuse to avoid showing mercy.
Isn't the story one of the things behind the story of the Good Samaritan? Jesus knows that if that priest and that Levite who passed that Samaritan were to get near a dead body they would be ceremonially defiled and they would not be able to do their duty in the temple. That's what God had said in the Old Testament. And Jesus intimates in the story of the Good Samaritan, that that is precisely what that priest and the Levite should have done. They should have allowed themselves to be defiled because of their mercy and compassion for that man on the roadside. Yes, God said, if you get near a dead body you are ceremonially defiled and you'll have to go through a cleansing process before you can come back into the temple. And the Lord Jesus is saying that is precisely what you ought to have done.
What would we have done if the Lord Jesus had decided that He was not going to get near to defiled sinners? Jesus said the demands of mercy always outweigh even the ceremonial ordinances that God has appointed, because they are of the heart of the law.
There's so much truth for us to learn here today we can't encapsulate it all, but the Lord Jesus is not assaulting the Lord's Day. He's not saying, there's no longer any weekly Sabbath for my Christian followers. If Jesus had wanted to say that this would have been the perfect opportunity for Him to say it, and He didn't. He didn't say to His disciples, now, disciples, you hear those Old Testament Pharisees, they just don't understand that the 4th commandment doesn't apply anymore. That's not what Jesus says. Jesus corrects their misunderstanding of the law, but He does not attack God's law.
Listen to the wise words of J.C. Ryle. "Our Lord does not do away with the observance of a weekly Sabbath. He neither does so here, nor elsewhere in the four gospels. Thousands have rushed to the hasty conclusion that Christians have nothing to do with the 4th commandment and that it is no more binding on us than the mosaic laws about sacrifices. There is nothing in the New Testament to justify any such conclusion. The plain truth is that our Lord did not abolish the law of a weekly Sabbath. He only freed it from the incorrect interpretations and purified it from man-made additions. He did not tear out of the Decalogue the 4th commandment, He only stripped off the miserable traditions with which the Pharisees had encrusted that day and by which they had made it not a blessing, but a burden. He left the 4th commandment where He found it; a part of the eternal law of God of which no jot or tittle was ever to pass away."
May we never forget this. Jesus did not abolish the 4th command, but this He did say, our love to God must not merely be outward and formal it must be love from the heart which has captured the whole of our being and love for God from the heart will always manifest itself in mercy and compassion towards others. If we'll think about that we'll see how far we have to go in this area. Will we truly show mercy and compassion the way our Lord showed mercy and compassion? Let us look to Him in prayer.
Our Lord and our God, we stand under Your word and it's uncomfortable to see ourselves in its light. And yet by grace You have saved us and by grace You will sanctify us. Help us to love Your word, to search it out, and by grace, O Lord, conform us to it. We ask it in Jesus name. Amen.
Matthew 12 is our study and we trust that God will bless us as richly as He has in our preparation for our study. Matthew 12 is a chapter that brings before us the full manifestation of the hatred of the leaders of Israel against our Lord. This is a milestone chapter in the gospel of Matthew; it focuses on the rejection of the Messiah. In many ways, this chapter is a turning point; the mounting, growing unbelief of Israel crystallizes in this chapter with rejection.
Really, in the first 21 verses, we see the rejection of Christ. Then, in the latter half of the chapter, we see the blasphemy that follows their rejection. As we come to chapter 13, our Lord begins to speak of an assembly of saints beyond the nation Israel; He turns away from them to another people. So this is a climactic chapter in Matthew's gospel, the King has been presented, and the King has been rejected. In chapter 13, then, there is a turning to something new apart from the nation Israel. The Kingdom will press on without them, and this becomes the theme of chapter 13.
We can see the rejection and the blasphemy coming ultimately. As we've moved through this gospel, it has been apparent to all of us that this has been a mounting thing. We knew, at the very beginning, when Jesus Christ was born and Herod moved to destroy Him, that He would not be accepted.
We saw it in chapter 3, when His forerunner, John the Baptist, confronted the Sadducees and Pharisees and called them 'a generation of vipers,' and warned them to flee from the wrath to come. We saw it in chapter 5, when the Lord confronted them and said, "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you'll never enter My Kingdom," and then He proceeded in chapters 5-7 to destroy their confidence in their religion. He attacked them and in turn, they attacked Him. Finally, in chapter 9, we begin to see the movement; they accused Him of blasphemy in verse 3, of spending His time with tax collectors and sinners in verse 11, and in verse 34, they said that He was demon possessed.
Jesus confronted them, first of all, about their sin. They were unwilling to respond to His message of sin and salvation; they stayed hardened in their sin, and pretty soon, they hardened into total rejection, and finally, blasphemy. As we've seen also in chapter 11, there were several moving phases in their reaction toward Christ.
First, we discussed their reaction of doubt. Then, from doubt, we went to criticism; from criticism to indifference. And now, we come to open rejection, and ultimately, to blasphemy. Emmanuel, God with us, has been in their midst, but they have remained coldly critical and indifferent, and now they are filled with rage, fury, anger, and hatred. As we approach this chapter and look at verse 14, they begin to plot His murder. This is a milestone chapter; the storm that ultimately leads to Calvary's cross is gathering on the horizon.
As this chapter begins by recording for us the crystallizing of their rejection, it does so by relating to us a very particular incident, and the key is in verse 1. "At that time, Jesus went on the Sabbath Day." This is a Sabbath Day issue. The crystallizing of their rejection of Christ occurred because He violated their Sabbath; that was the last straw. Because the Sabbath Day, to them, was the absolute epitome of their legalistic system. Everything in their legalistic system ultimately focused in on that one day, and when He violated their rabbinical traditions on the Sabbath, He was striking a blow at the heart of their system. That became the final straw that broke the camel's back, as it were.
The word 'Sabbath' is a very simple word, sabbaton. It basically means 'to cease,' and when there is a double beta (bb), or a double b, there is an intensifying of the word, so it means 'a complete cessation,' the stopping of something. Their Sabbath, then, was the day they stopped doing what they did on the other days. You'll remember when God created the world, it says, "On the seventh day, He rested." He ordained that that day would be a day of ceasing for Israel. In Exodus 20, God said to them, "Take the seventh day, the Sabbath, the day of ceasing, and keep it holy."
Although God rested on the seventh day, God did not command men prior to the Mosaic Law to rest on the seventh day; it was in the Mosaic Law that the requirement was first articulated. Then it became, in the Mosaic Law, a special, covenantal sign between God and Israel. Listen carefully, because many misunderstand this. The Sabbath commandment is one of the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20; it is the only commandment that is a non-moral one, the only one that is a ceremonial command. It is the one of the Ten Commandments that was uniquely between God and Israel as a ceremonial rule; all the other nine are moral absolutes. The reason we know this for sure is because when we get to the New Testament, every other command is repeated. Every one of the Ten Commandments is repeated except the one regarding the Sabbath. It is not repeated in the New Testament because it was a unique covenantal sign, much like circumcision was, between God and Israel.
At the time of Jesus and His disciples, the Sabbath was in fact the ceremonial law of God. It is not a binding law for the church, but it was for Israel. So the Lord would honor the Sabbath, as would His disciples, insofar as God intended it to be honored. But the Pharisees had added so many ridiculous things to the Sabbath that they would not honor. Even in truly honoring the Sabbath, they were in violation of some Pharisaic traditions, and this they could not tolerate. The Sabbath was the focus of all their religious activity and they had added so much stuff to it, that instead of it being a day of ceasing and a day of rest, it was a day of incredible burden.
Back in chapter 11, when Jesus says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden," the clearest illustration of that would have been the Sabbath observance. When they came to the seventh day of the week, or Saturday, as we know it, the laws, rules, and routines that they had to keep made it more difficult to rest than it was to work the other six days. There was more work trying to rest than there was work trying to work.
There were as many laws that we won't have the time in our lifetime. Believe it or not, in one section of the Talmud, and there are at least two such sections, there are 24 chapters listing all the Sabbath laws. One rabbi spent two and a half years trying to understand one of those chapters. If you just extrapolate that, there is a lifetime of one man just trying to figure out the stuff he was supposed to do on the Sabbath.
For example, you couldn't travel more than 3,000 feet from your house unless on Friday you had planted some food 3,000 feet away. Then, when you got there and had food there, that would become 'a home' because there was food there, and you could then go another 3,000 feet. Wherever there was a narrow street or an alley, if you put a rope, a wire, or a board across from the dwelling on one side to the dwelling on the other side, it created an entrance. Therefore, the street was turned into a home and you could go another 3,000 feet. Those are only two of more ways than you could count to go another 3,000 feet.
Things could be lifted up or put down only from and to certain places. You could lift something in a public place and put it down in a private place, or lift it up in a private place and put it down in a public place. You could lift it up in a wide place and put it in a legally free place, or lift it in a legally free place and put it down in a wide place. Rabbis, for years, tried to figure out what a 'wide place' was and what a 'legally free' place was. You could never carry a burden that weighed more than a dried fig, or you could carry something that weighed half a dried fig twice.
There was a long list of things you couldn't eat on the Sabbath, and forbidden food on that list could be consumed no larger than an olive. If you put half an olive in your mouth, but found out it was rotten, and spit it out, you couldn't put the other half in because your mouth had tasted it as if it was a whole olive. Since your mouth can't see anyway, you couldn't put in another good olive half.
If you threw an object in the air and caught it with your other hand, it was a violation of the Sabbath; if you caught it with the same hand, it was OK. If it was near the Sabbath and you reached out for your food, and the Sabbath overtook you, you had to drop your food before you drew your arm back or you'd be carrying a burden on the Sabbath. A tailor couldn't carry a needle on the Sabbath lest he would be tempted to sew something that ripped. A scribe couldn't carry his pen because he might write. A pupil couldn't carry his books because he might read. You couldn't examine anyone's clothing, because you might find an insect there and kill it.
Wool could not be dyed, nothing could be sold or bought, nothing could be washed, and a letter could not be sent even if you put it in the hand of a heathen for delivery. No fire could be lit, and that's why today, even conservative and Orthodox Jews have a time switch on their lighting systems so that the lights go on automatically on the Sabbath. Cold water could be poured on warm, but warm water couldn't be poured on cold. An egg could not be boiled, even by laying it in the sun in the sand, which was common practice.
You couldn't take a bath for fear water would spill onto the floor and wash the floor as it fell off you. If there was a lit candle, you couldn't blow it out; chairs couldn't be moved because they tended to drag ruts across the ground, and that was a violation. A woman couldn't look in a glass, because she might see a gray hair and pluck it out. Jewelry couldn't be worn, because it weighed more than a dried fig
When it came to grain and food, the laws went on and on. You couldn't carry more grain in your hand than would fit into a lamb's mouth. You couldn't leave a radish in salt because it would become a pickle. This is just a sampling of it. There were 24 chapters of this; the law goes on endlessly about wine, honey, milk, and spitting. For example, you could only to spit into a rag, not onto the ground, on the Sabbath. Who knows why all these things came to pass?
There were laws about writing, and about getting the dirt off your clothes; it was very intricate to get the dirt off your clothes without violating the Sabbath. You could only carry ink enough for two letters, not letters to people, but alphabetical letters. You could carry wax enough to fill a tiny hole. You could have a wad in your ear if you had an earache, but you couldn't have a false tooth in, because that was carrying a burden.
Here are 39 things that were commonly forbidden: sewing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, sifting, grinding, sifting with a sieve, kneading, baking; shearing wool, washing wool, beating wool, dying wool, spinning wool, putting it in the weaver's loom; making two threads, weaving two threads, separating two threads, making a knot or undoing it, sewing two stitches, tearing in order to sew two stitches; catching deer or killing, skinning, salting it, preparing its skin, scraping off its hair, cutting it up; writing two letters, scraping in order to write two letters, building, pulling down, extinguishing or lighting fire, beating with a hammer, carrying a possession, and it goes on and on.
Do you know what the Sabbath was? A pain in the neck. It was impossible to rest; you couldn't do anything. No wonder they were laboring and heavy-laden, sick to death of the system that had been imposed on them by the legalists. The Sabbath was the focus of everything. Edersheim says that if a woman were to roll wheat to take away the husk, she would be guilty of sifting. If she were rubbing the ends of the stalk, she would be guilty of threshing. If she were cleaning what adheres to the side of a stalk, she would be guilty of sifting. If she was bruising the stalk, she would be guilty of grinding. If she was throwing it up in her hands, she would be guilty of winnowing.
The people were under this incredible burden. Now you understand what it meant when Jesus said, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest."
That's what the Sabbath was supposed to be, but as far as rest was concerned, it was a joke. So Jesus came along and paid absolutely no attention to any of that stuff, and it infuriated the religious leaders. This became the final act that crystallized their rejection. Let's look at the incident.
"At that time," and that means the same season as the rest of this text, in our Lord's Galilean ministry period; the time when He was moving through the villages of Galilee, healing, casting out demons, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. At that time, the time of the Galilean ministry. It doesn't necessarily identify a day; it is the wordkairos, which means 'a season.' "At that time, Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath."
We have a problem, because Jesus shouldn't be going places on the Sabbath; you couldn't go more than 3,000 feet. But He and His disciples are moving along, because God's law didn't say that, though the rabbinical law did. They are in violation of the Sabbath because they're traveling, literally, 'through the fields that are sewn,' through the grain fields. Some Bibles say 'corn fields' but they were probably wheat and barley fields. The grain was likely ripening because of what occurs in the incident in verse 1. If they were there in Galilee, in the Jordan Valley, that would mean that it was around April, nearing Passover season, perhaps, because that's when grain usually ripens there: in the spring. As you go east from there, the farther east you go, the later it is, until finally, at the eastern parts of that area, it doesn't ripen until August. But in the Jordan Valley, it would be around April. The harvest must have been very near.
The fields were everywhere; there weren't really any roads, only paths through fields. The grain was put in great long strips, and you actually walked down through the strips as you traveled on your journey. As you walked along, there would be grain on both sides, so the Lord and His Twelve are walking along.
The Lord had made a wonderful provision for the traveler in Israel in Deuteronomy 23:25. It says, "When you come into your neighbor's standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor's standing grain." In other words, there weren't any restaurants or truck stops or McDonald's anywhere, so as you were moving along, you would get hungry. So the Lord provided, in Deuteronomy 23:25, within the nation of Israel that you could take your hands and pluck some of the grain. They did this commonly. Some of you have lived on a farm and done this; maybe you'll take the head of the wheat or barley and roll it in your hands to clear the kernel out, then you throw it in the air and the chaff is blown away, and then, as if eating nuts, you eat the grain. The Lord made that provision in Deuteronomy.
So the disciples are moving along, and they began to be hungry. They began to pluck the ears of grain to eat, and that is exactly what Deuteronomy 23:25 said they had a right to do. They were not in violation of the Word of God at all. They were poor; they had left their livelihood to follow Jesus Christ and they lived by faith. They carried nothing but had to depend upon the laws of the land which permitted that, and the kindness and generosity of people who fed and cared for them. Jesus didn't restrain them, because they were in line with the Old Testament Scripture.
Luke expands the thought of verse 1, and says: "And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat." So they were going through that process: pick it, rub it in your hands, separate it, throw it in the air, and eat what remains. In Exodus 34:21, the Old Testament forbids reaping on the Sabbath, but this is obviously not reaping. Reaping is going into the field and the whole business of harvesting grain, but the Pharisees had taken this concept of not reaping on the Sabbath and brought it down to that fine point. You couldn't even pull a handful of grain off. This became the incident that triggered their fury, because it occurred on the Sabbath.
They said a man could eat on the Sabbath if he were starving to death, and they had a hard time determining who was starving to death, because you actually had to be starving to death. That would be pretty arbitrary to determine. "How long is this guy going to live? Well, he's definitely going to die today if we don't give him some food." But someone else thinks, "I think he can last an extra day, so let's wait." They even said that when a man was ill, you could stop him from dying but couldn't help him to get any better. They also said you could put a bandage on a man, but not a medicated one. In other words, you could keep the guy from dying but certainly couldn't make him better on the Sabbath. That was also a fine line.
So they had determined that this was reaping, and the Talmud says, "In case a woman rolls wheat to remove the husks, it is considered as sifting; if she rubs the heads of wheat, it is regarded as threshing; if she cleans off the side-adherence, it is sifting out fruit; if she bruises the ears, it is grinding; if she throws them up in her hand, it is winnowing." The Pharisees had made it a violation to do what they were doing, but that wasn't the spirit in which God had intended the reaping command in Exodus. That is the incident; now let's move to the indictment.
In verse 2, guess who is dogging Jesus' footsteps? They were taking a trip through a field somewhere, and hiding behind the grain are the Pharisees, just looking for something with which to accuse Him. And they saw it! "They said to Him, 'Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!'" It's hair-splitting legalism, absolute asininity, with no purpose. They had buried God's law so deeply under a pile of legislative tradition that it was unbearable.
God intended the Sabbath to be rest, not excruciating hardship. These people had nothing; they traveled and lived by faith. They took a handful of grain; they didn't violate the heart of God. That's why Peter says in Acts 15:10, "They bind burdens on people that are impossible for them to bear." That's why Jesus said in Matthew 23:4, "They have laws that are burdensome." No wonder the people sought rest, no wonder He said, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." They understood what He meant.
Some people think that the Lord asks a lot; you ought to try Pharisaic Judaism, that is a heavy yoke. The yoke of Christ, even with the standards that He has, even with all that His lordship implies, isn't anything like this. So they indicted the Lord with their non-Mosaic traditions and distorted the intention and motive of God's Sabbath. We'll move from the incident to the indictment to the instruction in verse 3.
Listen to the Lord's answer. "But He said to them, 'Have you not read?'" That's sarcasm. In verse 5 He says, "Haven't you read the law?" Of course they had read the law! In verse 7, He says, "If you had known what this means." You see, He's saying, "You're just blockheads. Didn't you read this? Don't you know what it means?" The implication is that they don't know at all what it means, so the Lord instructs them with three biblical texts, or incidents, or principles, to show the true meaning of the Sabbath.
First of all, He says that Sabbath law was never intended to restrict needs of necessity. Secondly, it was never meant to restrict service to God. Thirdly, it was never meant to restrict acts of mercy. The Sabbath was to bring rest, not hardship; to reflect what the other nine commandments reflected: love toward God and toward your fellow man. That's what the Ten Commandments are all about. The first of the commandments talk about our love to God through loyalty, faithfulness, reverence, and holiness. The second group talks about love to our fellow man through respect, purity, unselfishness, truthfulness, and contentment.
That is why the whole of the Ten Commandments is summed up in this: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, and your neighbor as yourself. It is love to God and love to man, and that is what Paul says in Romans 13:8-10, that love is the fulfilling of the law. But the Pharisees didn't have a clue about love; they just suppressed people, intimidate them, piled burdens on them. They were legalistic functionaries, and loveless. But the law of God was to permit God and man to have an ongoing love relationship and to permit man and man to have an ongoing love relationship.
Therefore, first of all, law could never stand in the way of meeting people's needs; that's a very basic point. Look at His illustration. "Have you not read what David did?" When He picks David out, He's really got them, because David was their hero. He was it, number one in all popularity polls in Israel. "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry?"
You see, David was fleeing. He had been rejected by his people as king, and he was fleeing for his life. He was going south to Gibeah, as it says in I Samuel 21, and Saul was after him. He came to the land of Nob, just north of Jerusalem, where the tabernacle was. He didn't have any food and he and his men were very hungry. So he went in to Ahimelech, who was ministering in the place of Abiathar, the high priest, and told him that he was hungry. David even told a lie about what mission he was on, but he nonetheless told him that he was hungry. You know what they gave him to eat? The showbread from off the table in the tabernacle.
What was that? Every week, they baked 12 loaves of bread and each loaf was baked with six and a half pounds of flour; these were big, big loaves. They were put in two piles of six each, and represented the 12 tribes of Israel, and placed on the table. Every Sabbath, the loaves would be taken away and new ones put down. When the loaves were taken away, according to Leviticus 24:5-9, they were to be eaten by the priests and no one else. The word 'showbread' literally means 'the bread of presence,' or 'the continual bread,' and it was the representation of God's perpetual relationship to His people, and it was to be eaten only by the priests. It was sacred, never to touch the lips of a common person, even a person like David, because he wasn't a priest.
Still, David ate the showbread. We can't think of a parallel unless we went into the Catholic church and drank all the holy water because you were thirsty. They might get upset about that. But David and his men ate the showbread. Verse 4. "David entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests."
Why did God let him do this? Because God never invented any law that was intended to overrule human need. Ceremony takes a backseat to the meeting of a need. God not only allows necessity to overrule ritual, but the ritual in David's time, and in our Lord's time, had lost its meaning anyway, because the people were so unholy. God will even violate one of His own ceremonies, not moral laws, but ceremonial law if He has to meet a need, because God is all about loving men and meeting their needs. The Pharisees didn't understand this, "That the Sabbath was made for man," so he could rest and have his needs met. Not man for the Sabbath. David violated the ceremonial law to meet the heart of God, which is to meet needs.
Think about that in the Old Testament in the case of divorce. God says, "If you commit adultery, you die." That's the law. Adultery was the only legitimate grounds for breaking up a marriage, because when you committed adultery, you died, and that broke up the marriage. But God was gracious, so He eased off the penalty of death and permitted divorce so that one person wasn't stuck with an incessantly adulterous partner corrupting and violating the relationship.
He permitted divorce only on the grounds of adultery; Jesus made that very clear in Matthew 5. In Deuteronomy 24, Moses gave them a bill of divorce for something less than adultery, for uncleanness, which is the word for excrement. This is doing foul, dirty stuff. Jesus says, "From the beginning, it was never God's intention to have divorce at all, and certainly not to permit it for less than adultery, but because of the hardness of your hearts, He permitted it." Why? Because it is the heart of God, if need be, to overrule legislation if it takes that to meet need. This is something we have to think about.
In I Corinthians 7, Paul says, "I'm going to add something else. If you have an unbelieving partner, and that partner leaves, let him leave; you aren't in bondage." You say, "I thought the only cause for divorce was adultery." Yes, but God is adding to that this, saying, "I want to go beyond that. If an unbeliever doesn't want to live with you, let him go; you are free." Why? Because He wants you to experience peace, that is the heart of God.
Legislation has to fit into God's heart attitude, and the rules for the showbread had a reason, but the reason was not to prevent a man who was hungry from having something to eat. The law of reaping had a reason, but it certainly wasn't to prevent some hungry disciples and their Lord from taking a handful of grain. The Lord is saying to him, "If David can violate a divine law, then can one greater than David violate a rabbinic tradition to express the heart of God in meeting need?" Let's look at the second illustration in verse 5.
"Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?" What does that mean? Every Sabbath, all the priests, functioning on the Sabbath profaned the Sabbath because they worked. How? Because they lit fires. It was hard to have a sacrifice without a fire. They also killed animals; it is also difficult to keep a live animal on an altar without a fire. They had to light fires and kill animals. Do you know what they did after they killed the animal? Lifted it up and put it on the altar, and animals weighed more than a dried fig. They profaned the Sabbath all the time. Leviticus 24:8-9 and Numbers 28:9-10 say that they had to do this! The sacrifices on the Sabbath were even double sacrifices.
That's really what He's saying here: there was a service to God that actually violated the whole ceremonial law. The point is that God doesn't make rules that force themselves to be applied over against that which is a higher priority, and that is serving God.
Look at verse 6. Here is a statement that must have knocked them over. "Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple." Oh man. He has just said, "Tabernacle and temple rules are set aside, and right here is someone greater than the temple." Unless you were alive at that time, you couldn't understand what that meant to them. The temple was it, because God dwelt in the temple. He said, "I'm greater than the temple. If in the tabernacle, David could eat the showbread because ceremony does not overrule meeting needs; and if in the temple, the priests can violate and profane the Sabbath laws to do the service of God; if the tabernacle and the temple tolerate it, then I am allowed to do it as well because I'm greater than both of those things."
They knew the temple was greater than the tabernacle, but to hear someone say that He is greater than the temple was absolutely shocking. It was a claim to deity. It is really what it said in John 1:14, "We beheld His glory." He became flesh and dwelt among us; He is the temple of God. God dwelt in a tabernacle, then in a temple, but now, greater than a tabernacle or a temple, God dwells in the body of the living Lord Jesus Christ in their midst. It's a tremendous claim to deity. So if there are exceptions for the tabernacle and for the temple, there had better be exceptions for the true incarnation of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is more sacred than any house God has ever dwelt in. This is another one of those monumental claims to deity that Jesus makes.
Thirdly, He says that the law cannot stand in the way of showing mercy. Verse 7. "But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless." He says, "You're condemning these guiltless disciples, and you wouldn't have done it if you had known what God really wanted - mercy, not ritual." The word 'sacrifice' embodies the whole ceremonial system. The whole ceremonial Sabbath system was only a shadow, a shell. What God really wants is a merciful heart, and God is merciful. If His people hunger, He wants them to be fed. It's a beautiful lesson the Lord gives, isn't it?
People think Christianity is rigid and hard. No, God has given us standards but doesn't want those to overrule meeting our needs, serving Him, or showing mercy. Kindness, self-sacrifice, and mercy are what God wants. God sometimes sets aside His prior laws for the sake of mercy. If we don't believe that, then ask ourself why we aren't dead, because we've sinned.
When God said that if you commit adultery, you die, then you should be dead if you've ever done that. But God has overruled that because He loves and shows mercy. There are times when God doesn't want a divorce, but He lets an unbeliever leave because He wants you to have peace; He wants to meet that need in your life. Mercifully, in the case of ceremonial law, God would set aside that law altogether to reveal His heart. After all, ceremonial law is only a shadow. In the case of God's moral law, however, He would at times set aside only the immediate consequence of that law, again, to reveal His merciful heart. The key: only God has the right to exercise that prerogative when He sets aside His standard. You don't, and neither do we, but He does.
God wants an obedient heart, and the Pharisees were a million miles from that; He wanted mercy, but they didn't have a clue. But especially on the Sabbath, wouldn't that be the day, of all the days, that you would meet needs? Wouldn't you think the Sabbath, of all days, would be the day to serve the Lord? Here they were, walking along serving the Lord, preaching the Kingdom, reaching people, and they had to eat on the way. They were serving the Lord, but their needs had to be met. God wanted to be merciful to them, and wouldn't you think the Sabbath would be the perfect time for that? The whole point is to shock. They had indicted Him, but when He was done with His instruction, He had indicted them as hard-hearted, external legalists who didn't even know the heart of God. They were the violators of the Sabbath, because the Sabbath was for meeting needs, serving God, and showing mercy.
If they weren't already flat on their backs, this did it. Verse 8 says, "By the way, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." What a statement. "I initiated and will interpret it," is what He is saying. What a claim! Either He is a blasphemer, or He is God. This must have goaded them to madness. He says, "You are not in charge of the Sabbath; I am in charge of the Sabbath." That crystallized the issue. He would tolerate no Pharisaical perversion of His intended purpose for the Sabbath; it was His. He wrote it, He would interpret it, and He would fulfill it.
Do you know why we don't keep the Sabbath anymore? Because Jesus fulfilled it. Hebrews 4 says that because of Christ, we have entered into rest. What does that mean? The Sabbath was a figure, a picture, a shadow of rest, saying, "This is how it will be, a day of rest." God, through the Sabbath, was saying, "There is coming a rest." The Pharisees ruined that illustration, because if the Kingdom of God was like the Sabbath they had invented, who wants it?
They had destroyed it, so the Lord came along and said, "Come over here to My side if you're laboring and heavy-laden; My yoke is easy and My burden is light. You will find rest!" It's a time of mercy, meeting needs, and serving God. Jesus came and fulfilled that Sabbath, and that's why there is no more need for a shadow, an illustration, because we've entered the reality. That is why the New Testament says nothing about keeping the Sabbath.
Romans 14 says, "Some people want to keep the Sabbath and some don't. It's no big deal; if they want to, it's because they are doing it traditionally from their Judaism, don't offend them, let them go. If you don't want to do it, don't worry about it." That's why Paul says in Galatians 4 and Colossians 2, "Don't let anyone impose upon you days or Sabbaths." We have the reality; the shadow is gone. Christ fulfilled it.
That's why He rose on the first day of the week. The disciples met together on the first day of the week (Acts 2:1), regularly breaking bread on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), and they were to collect their offerings when they came together on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1). Why? Because that was the day that commemorated and celebrated the resurrection. That's why we meet today, because it's resurrection day! It's the new covenant.
He closes with an illustration in verses 9-13. "Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue." We love that! He is so confrontive; He doesn't steal away and say, "I hope they don't come after Me," He goes right into their synagogue to illustrate the lesson He just gave. There is a man there who had a paralyzed hand, and this man meant nothing to them until he became an opportunity to catch Jesus. "And they asked Him, saying, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?' that they might accuse Him."
In the time under Judas Maccabeus, the time between the testaments, when the Greeks were dominating the people of Israel, there was one incident when the forces of Antiochas came against the Jews, I Maccabees records it. The text says, "They answered them not, neither cast they a stone at them, nor stopped the places where they lay hid; but said, 'Let us die all in our innocence: heaven and earth will testify for us, that ye put us to death wrongfully.' So they rose up against them in battle on the Sabbath, and they slew them, with their wives and children and their cattle, to the number of a thousand people."
Antiochas and his men came against the Jews, but because it was the Sabbath, they wouldn't lift a finger to defend themselves, so 1,000 people were massacred. They were really serious about the Sabbath. It was ridiculous, but that's how they felt. On another occasion, when Pompey took Jerusalem, they came in a built siege mounds on the Sabbath because the Jews would just stand and watch, and not prevent anything, because it was the Sabbath. It was a life and death deal to them, because they believed that if they kept this, they would earn their way to the Kingdom. It's the way the cults are; that's why they are so zealous.
The Lord just comes in the middle of this and horrifies their Sabbath. They said, "Is it lawful to heal this man?" First of all, they believed that Jesus could heal, but it didn't faze them. Isn't that amazing how blind they were? They knew He could heal. Where did they think He got the power for that? We'll find out later in the chapter that they thought He got it from Satan. They ask if it's lawful to heal the man on the Sabbath. The reason they picked a man with a paralyzed hand is because it wasn't a life and death issue. Their laws said you could prevent someone from dying, but not make him any better. So a guy with a paralyzed hand has had it for a long time, and it's not life and death.
Verse 11. "Then He said to them, 'What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?'" Now, this meant just one sheep out of a flock, one of many. Would this violate their Sabbath? It wouldn't because it was economics. This wasn't like the time of the Maccabees anymore; they weren't going to die. There wasn't quite the same heroism anymore, so they would figure out that if there were enough people, and each guy could lift a certain amount, they'd figure a way to get the sheep out of there.
William Henderson says, "It is safe to infer, perhaps, that the question asked by Jesus at the moment indicates to us that there was a particular legislation permitting this." We don't know what rabbinical sources it came from, but it must have been the case because Jesus uses it as an illustration. Wouldn't you rescue your sheep on the Sabbath? Verse 12. "Of how much more value, then, is a man than a sheep?" That's a simple question, but sheep were better than men to them.
Men meant nothing to them; they were very much like the Hindus in India today. They won't kill a fly because it is the incarnation of someone who is trying to get out of that karma. They won't kill a rat, a mouse, or a cow. Two-thirds of their food supply is eaten by those things, and that is why they have starvation problems. They let people die all over the place and don't help them, because it's their karma. They won't give money to beggars or help the destitute because they feel they must endure that suffering to earn their way to the next level. So cows are worth more to them than people; cows are sacred, for whatever reason. It's the same in Judaism, but not quite so religiously defined, and sheep were more important to them economically than people. Ethical conduct is the issue, and the Lord makes it very clear at the end of verse 12, "It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
By the way, Mark and Luke tell us that all the while He is talking, He has brought the man with the paralyzed hand and sat him in front of the entire synagogue, and it is very dramatic. He is confronting them and saying, "You tell me. You rescue a sheep; would you rescue a man? Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?" What can they say? If they say it is lawful to do good, then they are stuck. He would say that it would be good to heal the man. If they say it is not lawful to do good on the Sabbath, then what have they said? What is the alternative, evil? So He asks the question, but they don't want to answer, so they don't.
A chilling silence prevailed. Luke says, "The Lord read their thoughts and they were filled with fury." Mark says, "Jesus was grieved at their hard hearts." He was always compassionate. They didn't care if the man was healed; they were trapped. Verse 13. "Then He said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other." Was that a good thing to do for that man? If there was ever any meaning in the Sabbath, wouldn't it be to do good? Sure. And to know to do good, and have the ability to do good, and not to do good is to do evil. If ever there was a time for blessing, it was the Sabbath.
So we go from the incident to the indictment to the instruction to the illustration to the insurrection. Verse 14. "Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him." Why? Because He was good and they were evil, that's why.
Jesus connected the Sabbath with the heart of God - benevolence, mercy, kindness, goodness. That is the purpose of it all. Jesus came that we might enter into a relationship with God in which He pours out to us grace, goodness, mercy, kindness, peace, benevolence, and tenderness. The Pharisees had completely obliterated that illustration in the Sabbath. Jesus' lesson is very clear: we broke the ceremonial law to meet our need, but that is the heart of God. We broke a traditional law of not going more than so many feet to serve God; that is the heart of God. God wants mercy to be shown, not ritual. The only function that ceremony ever has is the illustration of a right attitude. If you corrupt the illustration without having the right attitude, you miss the whole purpose.
What does this say to an unbeliever? Today, there are people who are caught in systems of religion where they are trying, by their own works, to do what the Pharisees did: laws upon laws and rules upon rules. A Jewish man once said, "I'm Jewish, and this is my first time here. I am laboring and heavy-laden, and I want rest."
What system you're in? if you're trying to keep the law as a Jew, or if you're trying to keep the law of the Mormons, or the Jehovah's Witnesses, or the rules and regulations of Roman Catholicism that claim to get you into God's Kingdom, but if you know that in your heart, you're not there, and are tired of the toiling, look to God. He wants to give you rest. All these man-made systems do is bury the heart of God under a pile of legislation, and He wants to give you a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light.
Christians, isn't there a lightness and freedom in knowing Christ and walking in the power of His Spirit? Even though we commit ourselves to obedience to Him, it's lightness, not heaviness.
The second lesson is, Christians, why do you come here? Why do you worship? What's your purpose? Are you here because it's functional, because you think it is your duty? Are you just cranking it out? Having begun in the Spirit, are you going to be perfected in the flesh? Are you defining true spirituality in terms of a bunch of little things you do or don't do? Is your relationship to God function, rules, laws, or do you realize that those are only things to assist us? They can never stand in the way of meeting needs, serving God, and showing mercy, because they violate the heart of God.
Some Christians are so legalistic that they literally alienate other believers. The things they're legalistic about aren't even things God talks about in Scripture. Where is your heart toward God? Are you trapped in a bunch of rules, or do you know an easy yoke and a light burden? Let's pray.
Lord, You are so good. We know what we deserve, and You are so good and kind to pass by our transgressions, to set aside Your law at Your discretion for mercy's sake. We know You have given us principles; we seek to obey them. They are designed to reveal to us Your heart, never to stand in the way of its manifestation. Help us to have the sensitivity to walk in the Spirit, to know how to respond to Your ordinances with freedom and liberty that truly represent Your kind, merciful heart toward us. Lord, save people from systems that bury You under a pile of rules, for Christ's sake, Amen.
Part 4 - Matthew 12:1-14 - Ancient clues uncover the mystery!
Talk about suspense and intrigue! Subatomic anti-matter threatens the existence of Vatican City in Rome. Key Cardinals from the Roman Catholic Church vanish. And it all points to the ILLUMINATI, a secret society that has re-emerged from history. In the movie by Dan Brown called "Angels and Demons" there’s a battle with science and religion.
The hero is Robert Langdon, a renowned symbologist, who has to follow a trail of clues left by the bad guys, the Illuminati, to find the kidnapped Cardinals and save them from being executed each hour and stop an anti-matter bomb from wiping out Vatican City. In true suspense thriller style, no-one is who they seem to be.
In Matthew 12, the plot is similar. We have been kidnapped by our legalistic thinking.
It all hinges on the question the Pharisees (Illuminati) ask Jesus "Is it lawful to harvest grain and heal on the Sabbath?" (Matthew 12:2, 10) and Jesus uses their legalistic lack of compassion to give the first clue.
Clue 1 - King David - In answer to their question Jesus says that King David went into the house of God and ate sacred bread which was not lawful (Matthew 12:3-4). That’s a clue in itself because Jesus is a descendent of king David (Matthew 1:1). As we search through the holy books we discover an ancient covenant made between God and David that establishes the throne of David forever (2 Chronicles 13:5). We discover that Jesus is called the King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15). And strangely enough we discover that we are also created to exercise authority over the earth responsibly as His representative (Genesis 1:28). Apparently ruler ship is part of the deal as we come under the authority of Christ (Revelation 20:4).
Clue 2 - Priests - Jesus says that priests worked on the Sabbath day (Matthew 12:5). Digging a little, we find that Jesus is called the Great High PRIEST (Hebrews 4:14) and if we are followers of Christ, we are collectively called a Kingdom of Priests (Exodus 19:6 and Revelation 1:6) and Holy Priests (1 Peter 2:5). We have direct access to God, no SECRET Keys for the door required (Ephesians 3:12).
Clue 3 - The Temple - Jesus says He is Greater than the Temple (Matthew 12:6), the place where God chooses to Reveal Himself (Habakkuk 2:20 and Acts 7:46-50). In fact if we search through the ancient document of Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT) we find that it says "For in Christ lives all the Fullness of God in a human body. So we also are complete through our union with Christ, who is the Head over every ruler and authority." And something else - Christians, as they gather together are collectively called the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2:5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Note the "our" is plural in the original Greek). It is where Christ dwells and expresses His life. The pieces are coming together.
Clue 4 - Lord - In Matthew 12:8 (NLT) Jesus gives the final clue. He says, "For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!" Jesus can do whatever He wants, on any day He wants. Not just Lord of the Sabbath but we discover that He is the Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15) and He doesn’t have to go through an enclave to elect Him to that office. Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT) says "... God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the Name above all other
He was trying to tell us that despite the time or season we should not relent in doing good and expressing our love for one another. there is not a good time to show love than when a brother is in need.
I believe he was trying to teach people that the powers of God are with us always. We are to give our entire lives to God and one day is to be set aside for rest, but the healing power of God does not rest and is forever present.
He was trying to teach them that there is nothing wrong doing good always, even on a Sabbath.
Jesus was trying to teach people when He deliberately violated the Sabbath in order to heal people. if anybody is in problem we have to help, praying giving feed people going to die we can help that is not sin like that Jesus want to help on Sabbath day.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Gospel accounts record numerous confrontations between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day concerning the Sabbath ... His healings on the Sabbath and His teachings about Sabbath observance stirred frequent controversy ... Lest one keep in mind ... For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath ... Consider Jesus' compassion to folks ... Example ... if you will ... they could not see with their hearts ... because their eyes were 'blind' their minds were 'withered' ... by the regulations in which they burdened the Sabbath ... Jesus' showing compassion SHOULD have been seen as a blessing ...
Jesus was teaching and showing that it is important to continue to do the right thing (good deeds) even on the Sabbath.
He was trying to teach that what you do on the Sabbath is more important than just observing the day itself
That every day is a day of healing, restoring, and delivering.
He was showing his faith. Doing good is acceptable on Sabbath Day. If someone needs help it is more important to help than to worry what day it is. God knows.
He was saying to them that it is lawful and right to do good on the Sabbath. He was telling them that He is the Lord of the Sabbath and that the Sabbath was made for man and not otherwise.
He was trying to prove that God's power is above all law made by man. In the eyes of God, good deeds come first. Therefore we should also not stop doing good deeds, no matter what restriction the law brings.
That "Mercy prevails over judgement or legalistic requirements.
He was trying to tell them that whatever you desire with your faith you shall have it and that will should do good to people when they are in need.
that he is greater than every law of man.....
That is someone needs help even if it is on the Sabbath, we should be able to help them. We still can do good deeds for others.
That the Sabbath was to honor the Lord, not man. We are to do things on the Lord's day to please Him. Doing good, praying and honoring God. We are not to labor for man, nor use this Holy time for man’s sinful pleasures.
That religious laws are not what pleases God. To have compassion, to love thy neighbor is what pleases God.
Jesus was trying to teach the people that to help others, show compassion and love is for any day of the week. Blessings.
Yes, Jesus was trying to bring into our knowledge that the Sabbath is also part of our inheritance which will not have power over us. That Sabbath is a holy day does not mean that we should abstain from doing any work on that day. there are things that we must do, that if we fail to do them, it will automatically result to sin. Again as a child of God, we should not live under the influence of the law but by faith.
Jesus was trying to teach people that God set the rules not for confining people but for protecting people. Sabbath was set for people to rest in a week and to get close to God. Anything merciful pleased God because God love mercy and not sacrifice as God loves people.
JESUS WAS TEACHING THE BEST WAY TO DO ON A SABBATH, THAT’S HELPING THE NEEDY, DOING GOOD, NOT JUST FOLLOWING THE LAW.By: Gregorio Magdaleno
Category: Lord of the Sabbath
| Why does the Father hide things from the wise and intelligent and reveal them to infants? |
Rest for the Weary
At that time, Jesus answered,
"I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You hid these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son, except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and he to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.”
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Why does the Father hide things from the wise and intelligent and reveal them to infants?
The Revelation of God. 11:25-30.
I. God the revealer.
A. His Identity. 11:25.
1. The Father. This address witnesses to the special intimacy that the Son of God enjoys with the Father. At the same time, the words recall 6:9, "Our Father in heaven," words the disciples are to use in addressing God. While the distinction between Jesus' and His followers' respective relationship to God is safeguarded, there is nonetheless a shared intimacy; and those who come to God through Jesus are granted a depth and closeness in their relationship to God which is otherwise impossible.
2. "The Lord of heaven and earth." God is Sovereign of His universe, not its prisoner. See Ps 113:5. When a Soviet cosmonaut returned from a space mission grandly announcing that he had not found God in outer space, C. S. Lewis replied that the really surprising thing would have been if he had found God in outer space.
What does this teach us about prayer? At the moment Jesus uttered this prayer, there were perhaps thousands of other prayers being offered to God. When the question is asked, "How can God hear all those prayers at one time?" the answer is that He, as Lord of heaven and earth, is above time and is therefore not actually listening to all those prayers at one time.
B. His Activity.
1. Fellowship within the Godhead. V. 27, "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son," affords a glimpse into the incomprehensible depth of fellowship within the Godhead. To complete the picture, cf. 1 Cor 2:11, "no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."
2. Revelation of the Godhead.
a. The Father reveals the Son. Jesus says in v. 25 that God the Father has revealed certain things. God in His good pleasure (v. 26) has chosen not to confine the knowledge of Himself to the members of the Godhead. Initially, 2 "No one knows the Son except the Father" (v. 27). To complete the picture, see Jn 6. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (6:44). V.45 clarifies to whom the person is drawn: "They will all be taught by God." God the Father draws a person to Himself and teaches him about His Son. The One who knows the Son best, is offering the instruction. Then, the lesson having been completed, the Father ushers his pupil into the presence of the Son (6:37).
b. The Son reveals the Father. Understanding the fullness of truth, requires both that the Father reveal the Son and that the Son reveal the Father (11:27b): it is the relationship between them that must be understood). NB the connection between 11:27 and 11:28-30. Jesus issues the invitation, "Come to Me" (28), and "Learn from Me" (29). What is He to teach? As He has told us in v. 27, His task is to reveal the Father. So when Jesus declares, "I am gentle and humble in heart" (29), He is saying something both about Himself and also (in the process) something about the nature and character of the Father. It is the character of God to be "gentle and humble in heart." Cf. Phil 2:5-8.
c. The cruciality of understanding. The Son reveals the Father precisely within the context of His ministry. One learns who the Father is, by observing and correctly interpreting "the works of the Christ" (11:2). By the same token, "these things" that the Father reveals (11:25) must, within this context, be understandable concerning the nature and meaning of Jesus' "mighty works" (vv. 20-24), they being one of the Father's appointed means for revealing the Son.
Insight into spiritual reality depends utterly upon God's granting that insight. God appoints prayer as a means toward this end (9:38); but prayer remains the means and God's sovereign will the end. Jesus and His disciples proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God; Jesus' whole ministry testifies to the identity of His person (11:2-6). Yet if anyone is to perceive and to receive the truth of Jesus' person and work, it will be the effect of the Father's revelation. The prayer of thanksgiving in 11:25-26 relates directly to the effects of the mission of Jesus and the disciples, chapters 4-10. It is supremely the Father's "good pleasure" that explains why someone comes to acknowledge Jesus' person and work, and becomes a Christian believer.
II. The Human recipients.
A. The Children.
In 11:25, "little children," Jesus is speaking figuratively, as in 18:3, where He says to adults, "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."3
B. The Blessing.
Why are they blessed? Jesus is not implying that little children are innocent. The youngest child learns selfishness without the least instruction. Shel Silverstein's "Prayer of the Selfish Child" reads: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my toys to break, so none of the other kids can use them." It is not innocence but teach ability that Jesus has in view. This is not the same as intellectual capacity. In the school of God, attitude is the all- important factor. "The width of our knowledge about [God] is no gauge of the depth of our knowledge of Him. John Owen and John Calvin knew more theology than John Bunyan or Billy Bray, but who would deny that the latter pair knew their God every bit as well as the former? (All four were beavers for the Bible, which counts far more than a formal theological training)" (J. I. Packer, Knowing God, 34).
C. The Deprivation.
Why are the "wise and learned" deprived of the insight granted the children? One reason is their willful unbelief. Another is that God responds to their pride by deliberately withholding understanding from them. Only when the "wise and learned" become like children - i.e. stop depending on their unaided reason, do they begin to be truly wise (1 Cor 3:18). Then, as teachable children, they are ready to receive the true riches: knowledge of God.
III. The Relationship between God and man.
A. The Risks.
Jesus says, "Come to Me" (v. 28), before He says, "Take My yoke upon you" (v. 29). By the latter He means, Submit to God's Law as I have expounded it. But coming to Jesus Himself is potentially more threatening than submitting to the Law (see 19:16-22). The Law is more manageable than Jesus, if law-keeping is divorced from submission to His Lordship. Moreover, once we have received and understood the revelation, and have been exposed to the grace of God and His Messiah, it matters terribly how we respond (vv. 6, 20-24). Once Jesus has said, "Come to Me," it is extremely perilous to reject the invitation (cf. 22:11-14).
B. The Rest.
1. Jesus grants rest. "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (v. 28). Only then does Jesus say, "Take My yoke upon you" (v. 29). The order is vital. In Pauline terms, whether the Law is beneficial or destructive depends on what Power wields the Law: Sin uses it destructively (Rom 7); Christ uses it productively (Gal 6:2). Jesus makes the Law the instrument of His love (Mt 5:21-48). Trying to keep the Law without resting in Him, puts one under bondage and keeps Him there. Are not many whom Jesus addresses, "weary and burdened" because of their efforts to keep the Law (cf. 23:4; Acts 15:10)?
2. Law-keeping grants rest. For those personally united to Jesus, law-keeping grants rest. "Taking up the yoke" of the Law (v. 29a) brings "rest" (v. 29b). The way to unrest is to live without the Law. The "yoke" does not make the load; it lightens the load (cf. a guitar strap). Because Jesus' yoke is easy, His burden is light. "His commands are not burdensome" (1 Jn 5:3). It is not by accident that this passage is followed immediately by a discussion of the Sabbath.
3. Jesus bears the burden. The disciples' yoke remains His. Unlike the scribes and Pharisees (who "tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but...themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them," 23:4), Jesus, the lowly, gentle God, willingly takes up the yoke of the Law that it might not be burdensome to His subjects
Matthew 11:25-30 Come unto me all who are weary and burdened, I shall give you rest (Matt: 11:28). (This verse is found only in Matthew and not in any of the other three gospels. It is also found in the Gospel of Thomas which is not in the New Testament canon).
This call of Jesus, ‘Come unto Me’, at the end of chapter eleven of Matthew’s Gospel is very much related to what is said before in that chapter. In verse 25 Jesus thanks the Father for revealing to the simple and unlearned what has been hidden from the wise and the learned.
What was it that God revealed to the simple and the unlearned? Matthew does not explain it; but Luke in a parallel passage makes it clear. The context in Luke is the return of the seventy disciples from their missionary journey. The seventy in their missionary journey came to experience and understand the power of the Kingdom of God.
In the name of Jesus the sick were healed and demons were cast out. They were greatly amazed that the demons obeyed them. Jesus told them, ‘Don’t be glad because the evil spirits obey you; rather be glad because your names are written in heaven’ (Luke 10:18). The important thing is not the miracle but the fact that the Kingdom of Heaven has come and they are members of it. In casting out demons in the name of Jesus, what was revealed to the disciples, who were simple and humble people, was that the Kingdom of God has come in the person of Jesus Christ and they are experiencing the power of it.
The eleventh chapter of Matthew begins with John the Baptist in prison. John sends his disciples to ask Jesus: Are you the one who was going to come? Jesus answers: Go back and tell John what you are hearing and seeing: the blind can see, the lame can walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
All these are signs that Jesus was the Messiah and in Him the new age of God’s kingdom had come. Then Jesus turns to the crowd and asks why they went to hear John the Baptist in the wilderness. Was he a blade of grass bending in the wind? Or was he a man dressed in fancy clothes? No, they went to hear a prophet.
Jesus tells them that John was more than a prophet because he stood on the threshold of the Kingdom of God. John the Baptist was greater than any man who lived. But Jesus assures them that even the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than John. John, though more than a prophet, was only a forerunner and not a member of the kingdom. Now one who was greater than John the Baptist was here, the Messiah Himself. It is Him they should come to; then they would enter into the Kingdom of God. On another occasion Jesus reminded them how the Queen of Sheba had traveled all the way to hear the wise words of Solomon: now, one greater than Solomon was here. The people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, but now one greater than Jonah is here and people were not listening to Him. Now that the kingdom of God had come, Jesus is challenging the people to make a response.
Jesus makes people look at themselves. He tells them they are like children sitting in the market place. One group shouts to the other: We played wedding music for you but you would not dance. Then the other group would shout: We sang funeral songs but you would not cry. This is the generation which does not respond. They are indifferent to what God is doing in the ministry of Jesus. They are like people of Chorazin and Bethsaida who have seen the wonders of God performed in their midst but did not respond. The great tragedy in human life is that after experiencing the great love and mercies of God we become indifferent to God.
Yet Jesus calls us again and again to make a response. "Come unto Me", He calls, "all that labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest". "Come unto Me". God takes the initiative to call us to Himself. God through the prophet Isaiah calls out, "Come, all who are thirsty, come to the waters; you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost".
God’s grace is free. Come those who have no money and buy without money. We cannot come to God without God calling us to Himself. St. Paul says, "We cannot know God without being known of God first". He calls us again and again because He loves us. This is what the prophet Hosea tells us. Hosea chapter eleven is one of the greatest chapters in the Old Testament, a very moving chapter. God is saying:
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. It was I who taught Ephrem to walk, taking him by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with the chords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. ... I will not carry out My fierce anger, nor devastate Ephrem again, For I am God and not man, the Holy one among you.
God loves Israel as His child. There is sadness and sorrow in God’s voice. It is God’s love which compels Him to call us back again and again: Come unto Me.
God’s call is addressed to a particular group of people. Come unto Me all who are thirsty, who are hungry, and all that labor and are heavy laden. Only a sick person will feel the need for a physician. Only one who is thirsty will feel the need for a drink. For the Son of Man came to seek and save these who are lost.
The people who feel self sufficient in their lives have no need for God. The call of God is addressed to the weary, overburdened, who long for deliverance and long for the help of God. God calls them and they respond. Only those who are willing to surrender everything to God, and depend on God for everything can hear God’s call and respond. Come unto Me, all who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest.
In the New Testament two Greek words are used for ‘rest’. One indicates the final rest in heaven after our life in this world. But the other word means temporary rest. It means refreshing. When Jesus says, "I will give you rest," He means "I will refresh you" for further activity. Jesus calls all those who are weary and over burdened so that they may be strengthened and refreshed for our tasks in the world. The ‘rest’ will not be idleness or inactivity but strengthening for our responsibilities. It also means that we will be relieved of our anxiety.
In Jesus Christ the Kingdom of God has come. He is calling us who are overburdened with sin and sorrow, burdened with struggles of this life and who are anxious about life. He is calling us to Himself so that he may relieve us of our anxiety and refresh and strengthen us for our responsibilities in this world. Will we respond to this call?
Matthew 11:25-30 Tribute to the Forerunner of the Kingdom (4):
God’s Sovereignty and the Free Offer (2)
Last reading we saw the majesty of Christ displayed in His pronouncement of judgment against those cities which had heard the gospel of peace preached, and yet were not repenting. Today, we will see His majesty in this glorious invitation which He issues. Let's hear God's holy and inspired word beginning in Matthew chapter 11 verse 25.
Our Father, we bow before You this day acknowledging Your sovereignty and Your goodness. And we ask that in this great passage You would cause great light to break forth into our hearts as we hear it, as we receive it, as we humbly sit under Your teaching. We pray, heavenly Father, that You would apply its truth to our lives and that we would be changed by the realities to which it calls us. We ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
We observed that Matthew chapter 11 verses 20-30, the last verses of this great chapter contained some of the clearest statements about God's sovereignty and man's responsibility placed side by side in all of the scripture. And we noted some of the assertions about God's sovereignty and man's responsibility found in that passage. In fact, we tried to raise some particular theological problems which those concepts set forth. We remind a few of the things that we saw last week, and then point to several things that we'll find in our passage today.
We'll remember that last week in verses 20-24, Jesus reminds us that not everyone has the same exposure to the gospel. The cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum had much greater exposure to the gospel of peace than did the cities of Tyre and Sidon and Sodom. Now you may say, “That's not fair.” But that's what Christ said. He said that it was just the case that there was more gospel light shed on those later cities than the former. Now it's interesting, isn't it, that the Lord Jesus went on to say that had the cities of Sodom and Tyre and Sidon heard the gospel like it had been presented to those surrounding cities, that they would have responded. But the Lord Jesus makes it clear that not everyone has the same exposure to the gospel. He just puts it out on the table. He doesn't give any explanation. He doesn't give a defense. He just says, “That's the way it is.”
Notice also in verses 20-24, that Jesus indicates that the cities of Tyre and Sidon would have repented had they heard the message which He and His disciples had preached. Now even though that's a figure of speech designed to prick the consciences of those religious Jewish folk who were living in those cities, by saying to them even those pagans, even those Gentiles, would have repented if they had heard the preaching that you have heard, even though that statement is a statement designed to provoke, it raises an interesting question.
Why is it that some sinners repent and others don't? Why do they? We're all sinners. So why is it that some sinners repent and others don't? Some people would say, “Well that answer is to be found in the will of man. Some by their own free will choose to repent and others by their own free will choose to reject God.” The Lord Jesus actually muddies that answer in the statement He makes in verse 25. In verse 25, He thanks God the Father for actually hiding spiritual truth from some people. He hints that the answer to why some do not respond and why others do is to be found in the eternal counsel of the sovereign Father, even though He goes on in a few verses to invite all to come to Him. Now, this is not Calvin writing this passage. This is the Lord Jesus. You may not like what He's saying, but it's crystal clear. It may be confusing to us. You may not be able to sort it all out. But Jesus is making these assertions, not some mean old Calvinist minister.
In verse 26, He gives us another problem to think about. In verse 26, He attributes the distinction between those who are wise in their own eyes and who reject God, with those who are humble and embrace God. He says, “For Lord it was well-pleasing in Your sight. It was what Your pleasure was. It was Your will, O Lord.”
And in verse 27 He goes on to say “That no one can know God the Father unless He, Jesus, reveals Him.” He claims exclusive prerogative to reveal the Father savingly to them. Now those are hard words. Strong words. Profound words. And we won't solve all the answers to those questions. But we all want to bother with those questions for a few moments, because they are good things to think about. They are good things to ponder. It might move us to go back and pick up a commentary and look at this passage again and reflect on some of these things. It's good to chew on hard questions like that. The Lord builds us up, He humbles us, and He builds us up by His word.
But we follow the thrust of the outline that Matthew gives us here in verses 25 through 30. And we see the truths which He lays forth for us successfully there, because in verses 25 and 26 what we have basically is a prayer of the Lord Jesus to His heavenly Father. In verse 27 what we have is a preface in which Jesus describes Himself in order that we will believe what He's going to tell us in verses 28 through 30. And then in verses 28 through 30, we have a grand invitation in which the Lord Jesus invites sinners to come to Him and to find rest. Just reminding us again that the great theme of Matthew 11 is the majesty of Christ, and we see that majesty in all its sovereign glory displayed in verses 25 through 30.
I. Bible-believing Christians will joyfully acknowledge that God the Father is sovereign in salvation
In verses 25 and 26, as the disciples return from preaching in the villages, Jesus responds with a prayer to the heavenly Father. At this time, Jesus says, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this was well-pleasing in Your sight.” In the context of these words, the Lord Jesus had just pronounced a curse on the cities that did not repent at His preaching. In verses 20 through 24 we see the sad spectacle of people who had heard the Lord Jesus preach and had seen the Lord Jesus do miracles and yet they had not responded to Him. At the same time, Luke tells us that His disciples had just come back from their preaching mission and that they had reported that some had responded to the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of peace, while others had rejected it.
And in this moment when the Lord Jesus could have been profoundly discouraged. Here is the first great effort to spread the gospel to the surrounding countryside and many, many, many people had rejected that message, had rejected His miracles. He could have been very downcast. In that context, the Lord Jesus lifts up a prayer of thanksgiving to His heavenly Father. Christ’s heart was tender toward sinners. We see it even in the way He approached the rich young ruler. For we are told that He felt a love for him even though that man had gone away sorrowing. And Jesus' heart must have been downcast at the unbelief of the cities in which He had done His miracles and the cities in which His gospel had been preached.
But here He lifts up a prayer of thanksgiving to His heavenly Father, and in that prayer He contemplates God's sovereignty. He contemplates God's wisdom. And He contemplates the fact that God has caused some to respond to the gospel.
Look at what He does there. In this prayer first of all He praises God as sovereign. “This was well-pleasing in your sight,” He says. As He could have been discouraged by His circumstances, He takes encouragement in that whatever response had occurred, in the preaching of His disciples and in response to His own miracles, it was according to the Father's will. He thanks God for His wisdom. It pleased the Father to reveal the gospel of grace to those who were humble and to hide it from those who were proud. And He takes comfort in the fact that that was the wisdom of God for that circumstance.
But notice also He delights in the fact that the Father had called to Himself those who are infants. He had a remnant in Israel who was going to hear the word of Christ and respond to it and embrace all the promises of Abraham. And so Christ is encouraged by these three things.
When we find ourselves in discouraging circumstances, the last thing that we tend to do is to thank God. But the Lord Jesus' example here reminds us that we ourselves ought to take comfort in God, in His decree, in His wisdom, in His faithfulness, and in His promises. For the Lord Jesus, in this time where He could have been downcast, actually lifts up a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father. It reminds of Job. But when He had heard the final blow, “Not only is your houses and your lands lost, but your children and your grandchildren have been killed,” He offers up the prayer, “The Lord gave, and the Lord took away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” He thanks God even in the midst of the most devastating circumstances and so does the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving to God is an answer and an antidote to disquieting and dark thoughts. And sometimes God even will use thanksgiving to silence those thoughts. And the Lord Jesus approaches the Father in just this circumstance.
The Lord Jesus does approach the God of heaven and earth as His Father. He prays, “O My Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” He approaches God as His Father. The Lord Jesus, of course, did this constantly. Praying to “My” Father, whereas He called His disciples to pray to "our" Father, indicating that He had a special relationship with the heavenly Father. But isn't it interesting that precisely in this time of discouragement Christ highlights the fact that God is His Father.
We, ourselves, ought to draw encouragement in discouraging times by reminding ourselves that our God is by adoption our Father. Langston Haygood, a PCA minister, told the story of how God dealt with him and his life. And in the course of the story he told of one day when he heard his daughter running down the hall outside of the bathroom as he was shaving one morning. She was announcing to her mother that she was going to find her father, in fact, she said, “I’m going to find my daddy and when I do he's going to love me.” And he said those words came through to him with great spiritual force when he realized her confidence that once she was in his presence, he was going to love her. She was absolutely confident of that fact. And he said, “I ought to have that kind of confidence when I go into the presence of my heavenly Father. That when I’m in His presence He's going to love me.” And that is precisely the confidence that the Lord Jesus had. That God's will, that God's purposes for Him would be good because He was His Father.
Notice Jesus’ reverences God as the Lord of heaven and earth. He acknowledges that He is sovereign. So often we go to our parents for comfort and they want to comfort us but they don't have the power to comfort us. It breaks their heart because they want to make it right, they want to fix it, and they want the pain to go away immediately. But our heavenly Father has the power to fix it, because He is the Sovereign in heaven and in earth. And, note the things that Jesus thanks God for in this passage. He thanks the Lord for three things.
First of all He thanks the Lord that the gospel is revealed. Under the old covenant, the gospel had been set forth in shadows, in types, in promises and in prophecies. But now in the preaching of Christ, in the miracles of Christ, and in the preaching of the disciples, the gospel was being set forth clearly. The Old Testament was coming to fulfillment and to fruition and new life was breaking forth in the land. And the Lord Jesus praises the Father that this mystery is being revealed in the fullness of time.
But notice He goes on to thank God that God is specifically revealing that gospel to those who are humble: “I praise You that You have revealed this to babes.” Jesus is highlighting the unexpected character of the gospel. Those who were great, those who were thought well of, those who were mighty and powerful in the land; they were rejecting the gospel. But those who were humble, those who were not the center of attention in the land; they were embracing the gospel. And so He praises God for the unexpected character of His decree. He came not to give to those who had much, but to give to those who realized that they had little.
Notice also, He praises His father for the fact that His gospel has been magnified; His mercy has been magnified, because it is not revealed to the wise. “I praise you that you have not revealed, that you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and you have revealed them to babes.” God makes a distinction. Jesus says, not only have you revealed these things to the humble, you've not revealed these things to the proud. He makes a distinction between those who have embraced the gospel and those who have rejected it. And He does so that those who have embraced it will realize how great the mercy of God is toward them. It is what we might call a distinguishing mark. And Matthew Henry reminds us that distinguishing favors are most obliging. In other words, when we see that God has had mercy on us, it ought to move us not to be proud or conceited, but to contemplate the fact that there are many others who have not received the mercy of God. And it ought to move us to praise God and to love Him more for what He has done for us.
So often still today, the intelligent, and the educated, and the self-sufficient are the ones who reject God. J. C. Ryle says, “One event stands out in Scripture as a great practical truth to be had in everlasting remembrance. Those from whom the gospel is hidden are generally the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight. Those to whom the gospel is revealed are generally humble, simple-minded and willing to learn.” And that is why Calvin said that “Teachableness was the first step in spiritual life.” For James has told us in James 4:6, “God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.” And J. C. Ryle goes on to say this, and it's a word of warning to us, “Let us watch against pride in every shape. Pride of intellect. Pride of wealth. Pride in our own goodness. Pride in what we think we deserve. Nothing is so likely to keep a man out of heaven and to prevent him from seeing Christ as pride. So long as we think that we are something, we shall never be saved. Let us pray for and cultivate humility. Let us seek to know ourselves aright and to find out our place in the sight of a Holy God. The beginning of the way to heaven is to feel that we are on the way to hell and to be willing to be taught of the spirit.”
Do we contemplate the distinguishing favors of God towards us? Do we sense how awesome a privilege it is to have received the mercy, the grace of Christ? Isaac Watts’ hymn, How Sweet and Awesome is the Place, is a meditation on the distinguishing favors of God. It reflects on the fact that God has shown His mercy to us in Christ, though there are many others who have rejected Him. Look at verse 2. “While all our hearts and all our songs join to admire the feast, (the picture is the marriage feast of the lamb) each of us cries with thankful tongue, ‘Lord, why was I a guest?’” Do you contemplate that question? Why Lord, was favor shown to me? The Lord’s favor doesn’t puff us up; it humbles us. Why Lord? I don't deserve it.
Notice His answer. It goes on in verse 3. “Why was I made to hear Your voice, and enter while there's room, when thousands make a wretched choice and rather starve than come.” His answer, “It was the same love that spread the feast, that sweetly drew us in, else, (otherwise) we had still refused to taste and perished in our sin.” Notice that there is not distinction between his receiving the grace of God in his will, but in the love of God. And it doesn't lead him to pride; it leads him to be humble and to marvel before the wonderful grace of God. Do we contemplate those distinguishing favors? We ought to if we are going to be like our Lord
II. Bible-believing Christians will joyfully acknowledge that God the Son is sovereign in salvation
In verse 27, we also see the sovereignty of God in salvation set forth. In verses 25 and 26 we see God the Father sovereign in salvation. In verse 27, we see God the Son sovereign in salvation. In this passage, Jesus in one sentence is giving us a preface to His call, His gospel call, and His gospel invitation which He’s going to give to us in verses 28 through 30. And in this one sentence, He is going to set forth before us His authority and His credentials. Why? Because He is about to make an invitation that is going to boggle our minds. If a human were to make an invitation like the one that He's going to make in verses 28 through 30, we would say that it was ridiculous. We would say that that human was deluded. Or we would say that that human was absolutely sinister and wicked for making such an invitation that the Lord Jesus is going to make in verses 28 through 30. So before He makes that invitation, He's going to remind you of who He is. And He asserts four things in that packed sentence about who He is.
First, “All things have been handed over to Me by the Father.” He tells us that He has exclusive and absolute authority. And that phrase not only points back to the covenant of redemption before time, in which the Father and the Son agreed to take their part in the redemption of all of their people, but it also looks forward to the ascension. Jesus is saying this word as if it has already occurred. But He's looking forward to the ascension. After the crucifixion. After the death. After the burial. After the resurrection. When He ascends on high to the right hand of God and sits down at the throne and takes control of all authority in the universe for the sake of His people. And He reminds His disciples here “That all authority has been given to Me.” This is the person who is going to say, “Come to Me.” One who has all authority. Because a sinner wants to know, “Does this man know what I need and does He have what I need?” Well, here's His first answer: “All authority is given to Me.”
The second thing He says is that “No one knows the Father and no one knows the Son except the Father.” He claims to have an exclusive relationship. The Father has an exclusive relationship with Him. The Son is pointing to the intimacy that He has with the heavenly Father. Salvation is knowing God. The Lord Jesus is saying, “God knows Me.” And in the next phrase He's going to say, “And I know God like no one else knows Him.” So again, as the sinner asks, “Does this man know what I need, and does He have what I need?” He’s answering that question before we can ask it. Look again, He says “Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son.” He is claiming an exclusive understanding of an exclusive relationship with the heavenly Father. These were good Jewish folks. And He's standing in front of them and He's basically saying, “Moses didn’t have an inkling of what the Father was like in comparison to Me. Elijah didn't have a clue about who God the Father is. I know Him exclusively. There's nobody in the universe who knows God like I know Him. And if salvation is knowing God, then you've got to come through Me.”
And finally He says this, “And anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” He is claiming the exclusive ability to reveal God to men savingly. And notice that the thrust of those words are the will of the Son, “And anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” He’s saying, “It’s up to Me. Whoever I wish, whoever I will, will know the heavenly Father.” This revelation about Himself serves to give us confidence to believe the amazing words which He is about to speak in verses 28 through 30. Because the true happiness of man lies in knowing God. And the Lord Jesus Christ is saying, ‘If you want to know God, you must come to Me.’
III. Bible-believing Christians will be no more restrictive in their entreaties with unbelievers than was our Lord
And then those words come, in verse 28. “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Look at what Christ promises there in verse 28. He promises rest. Spiritual rest. True rest to those who come to Him. He calls those who are heavy laden. That is those who are burdened with sin. They know their sin, they know were they to stand before God, they would be pronounced guilty. Rightly so. They're not ready to argue that point. They know. They're burdened by that sin. They know they're without hope apart from the mercy of God. And He comes precisely to those who are burdened in their conscience. And He says, “I will give you true rest. Spiritual rest.”
Notice again, He calls them to Himself. This is the most amazing antidote that you'll ever get to spiritual illness. Every pastor, every counselor wishes that this was the answer to the problems of those who come to see them. They wish that every time you come into their offices and you poured your broken hearts out and you say, “What do I do?” they could say, “Well, okay, here's the answer, come to me.” It doesn't work that way. But the Lord Jesus can say, “Here's the answer to your problem, you come to Me. You come to Me. You trust in Me. You place your faith on Me.” You see, if a human being made this claim, we would rightly scorn them, that the answer to our problems is to come to them to have faith in them to trust in them. No human can make that claim, but Christ can. And He does: “If you are aware of your sin, if you know that you are rightly condemned under the just judgment of God, you come to Me. That's the answer. If you are discouraged and there is no hope, you come to Me. I am your answer. It's not that I will give you an answer, I am your answer.”
And then, notice that He promises blessing to all who come. “I will give you rest.” Rest from the terror of sin. Rest from the guilt of sin. Peace of conscience He promises. Rest in God. Rest from the power of sin. A fullness of the sense of God's love. He promises these people rest. True rest.
And, of course, in verse 29 He also calls them into service. It's not just rest. It's not just blessing. It's not just peace that Christ calls us to; it’s also service. He says there, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” He calls us into service, into His school to learn from Him. And, remind that this is the only place in all of Scripture where the heart of Christ is named. He tells you, “You want to know what's in My heart? You look at My heart. I am gentle, and I am humble. That's My heart. You look at My heart.” This is so vital, because as sinners realize their sin and they realize the justice of God, their natural reaction is not to run towards God. The natural reaction is to run away. Why? Because they know that they ought to be condemned. And they know that God almighty has the power to do that condemnation.
Why in the world would that sinner want to come to God? And the Lord Jesus says here's your answer. Three things:
First He says, “I am gentle.” The Lord Jesus is reminding us there that He will not break the bruised reed. When are we most vulnerable? When you have to repent it hurts. It hurts to be humiliated before those you love, as you admit what you've done and what you are. That you haven't been as good as you looked on the outside. It's devastating to divulge some of the things about ourselves that we work so hard to protect. And the Lord Jesus Christ is saying, “You come to Me with all those things. First of all, I know them all anyway. And I’ve still loved you. But you come to Me with all those things and I will deal with you gently. I will not abuse you. I'm here to heal you. Not to make fun of you. Not to humiliate you. You come to Me.”
And then He says, “And I am humble.” The Lord Jesus Christ’s heart of humility calls the sick sinner to Himself and He says, ‘I’ll care for you. The God of the universe I am, and I’ll care for you.” And then He says this last thing, “I will give you rest.” He promises peace if the sinner will disarm himself, if the sinner will be honest about himself, if the sinner will admit what he is, and what she has done. If they will lay themselves bare before Him. And He says “When you expose yourself like that, I will take care of you. And I will give you rest.”
Now God the Father said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased. You listen to Him.” So you listen to Him now. Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Trust in Christ. Let's pray.
Our heavenly Father, we cannot do justice to such a passage. We're just rejoicing in the fact that it's the truth. By the Spirit cause everyone in this place, believer or not, to realize to understand to have revealed to them the truth of this word. And then, to embrace it by faith. We ask it in Jesus name. Amen.
Matt. 11:25-30 - Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest
A. The incredible contrast between Christ's words in the previous and present passages could shock us. Christ pronounces both utter woe and perfect weal, unresting torment in Hell and perfect rest in Heaven. He calls us to repentance, and to faith. His kingdom is a kingdom not only of repentance, but also of faith in Jesus Christ. If Christ's words of woe shock and drive us away, we will have no true interest in His words of comfort in this passage. But if we truly know that we deserve the terrifying wrath of God for the wretched evil of your sins, then we will understand how good is God's grace, and we won't want to leave this room without it. There are several simple points from this passage, but amidst them look for just one thing, the mercy of God, and hold on to that.
B. This passage shows us that saving mercy in the revelation, authority, and blessings of Christ's kingdom. Christ's kingdom is revealed by the Father's will, its authority is exercised by the Son's will, and its blessings will make us whole. Its revelation is for children, its authority is absolute, and its blessings are good! Christ calls us to receive these blessings, because God has been pleased to reveal them, because Christ has authority to save, and because His salvation blessings are what we need.
A. Revelation: For Children! vv. 25-26. First, this kingdom's revelation is for children!
a. 25 At that time Jesus declared, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
b. 26 yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will.
ii. By God the Father. This revelation is by God the Father. Remember that God who would be your condemning judge is your merciful Father in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
iii. Sovereign in dispensation. This revelation is sovereign in dispensation. God hides, and God reveals, as He chooses. All your powers of wisdom and understanding will not give you a right understanding of the things of God, because in the end, you can only know God if, and when, and how He has chosen to reveal Himself. God is sovereign in His revelation.
iv. For the humble, not the proud. God's revelation is for the humble, not the proud.
a. The contrast between "the wise and understanding" and "little children" is not to be taken absolutely, else God would not command us to be wise, and only little children would be in the Kingdom of God! Wisdom is more precious than rubies. Instead, the contrast is between the humble and the proud. Many men are wise in the intricacies of science or politics but know nothing of the things of God, because they lean on their own understanding. "The world by wisdom knew not God." (1 Cor. 1:21) Yet little children who sing "Jesus loves me" and believe it actually know God the Father. Neither your wisdom nor your understanding will gain your entrance into God's presence, but only the blood of Jesus Christ, and faith in Him. "All our righteousness is as filthy rags." (Is. 64:6) "The things revealed belong...to our children" (Deut. 29:29); in this way "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6) "Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Cor. 1:20)
v. Simple in essential content. From this we should learn that God's revelation is simple in its essential content. Faith in God and the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is simple in its essential content. It has been said that the gospel of John is "shallow enough for a child to wade, and deep enough for an elephant to swim."
vi. Shows God's gracious will. Christ makes plain the meaning of these things in v. 26, "yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will." That God's revelation is for children shows God's gracious will. It is God's good pleasure to reveal the kingdom of Jesus Christ not to the great and the proud, but the lowly and needy. Now there is a reason to come to Jesus Christ!
B. Authority: Absolute! v. 27. Second, this kingdom's authority is absolute!
a. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
ii. Absolute. Christ's authority is absolute, because He has authority over "all things."
iii. Authority to save. Further, this guarantees Christ has authority to save. There is no creature over which Christ does not have total authority, which means when He says of His sheep, "no one will snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:28), Christ has the authority to make it so. He also holds in His hands all the blessings of salvation, and so is able to save you to the uttermost.
iv. From God the Father. Christ's authority is from God the Father. Christ says all things were handed over to Him "by My Father." This also shows that Christ submits to God the Father. Though Christ is the all-glorious God, He is humble before His Father. Do you know that Christ's kingdom is not one of earthly glory, but of humility?
v. Rooted in God. Christ's authority, and the blessings of salvation, are rooted in God; in the uniqueness of the inter-Trinitarian communion and knowledge shared between God the Father and God the Son. We may know Jesus as a man, but we will not know Him as God, and as our Savior, except by receiving the revelation that only God the Father and God the Son can give. It is only the eternal God who is perfectly blessed in Himself, in the eternal sweet communion between God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who has any blessing to give to you.
vi. Revealed to men. And what a gracious thing it is that Christ's authority, and His salvation, are revealed to men. Out of the fullness of God's own blessedness God the Father pours out upon us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, sealing it to us by His Holy Spirit. This is the point of Ephesians 1. "No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him." Praise God for the glory of His grace that He does choose to reveal His salvation to men! Christ's kingdom is about a relationship between God and man brought about through reconciliation. We who deserve to be alienated from God, He now welcomes into the presence of His glory, through the saving work of Jesus Christ!
vii. Exercised according to Christ's sovereign choice. We see in this that Christ's authority is exercised according to Christ's sovereign choice: "anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." However much that choice passes over the great mass of men who are left to receive the wrath of God for their sins, when the Son chooses to reveal the Father to those He saves, so far from an act of cold cruelty, it is an act of pure grace. When you know God's sovereign grace aright we cannot find fault with God, but must marvel at the greatness of His mercy. At the foot of the cross we have only Christ to thank, and only ourselves to blame. God's sovereignty is not a troubling evil to despise, but a glorious perfection to worship.
C. Blessings: Good! vv. 28-30. Third, this kingdom's blessings are good! We love these verses because they are full of the grace of Jesus Christ.
a. 28 Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
b. 29 Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
c. 30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
ii. They give rest from the burden of sin. This kingdom's blessings are good because they give rest from the burden of sin. In Matt. 23:4 Christ describes who the weary and burdened are: they are those who attempt to follow the Mosaic Law in their own strength, and more generally, sinners who rely on themselves rather than on the Savior. "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matt. 23:12) If in our own strength we try to bear our sin's corruption, guilt, and evil deeds, it will destroy us! What is more, we will not escape the wrath of God! The unbeliever's struggle against sin is a lost battle. But the believer's struggle with sin is a winning battle, by the saving power of Jesus Christ. Christ calls you, "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden" with sin, "and I will give you rest."
iii. The way to come is first by faith in Christ, but also by obedience. This kingdom's blessings are good because the way to come to Christ is first by faith, but also by obedience.
a. First by faith. Christ calls you to "Come to Me," not meaning that we save ourself by our coming, but that you come to Him because He is able to save us. Trust Him to keep His promise to give us rest from our sin.
b. We come to Christ second by obedience. Christ does not set us free from obedience to God's law, but from sin against God's law. We must still take Christ's "yoke" of obedience upon us, following His example of humbling Himself by becoming obedient to His Father on our behalf, even unto death on the cross!
iv. Rest for our souls. This kingdom's blessings are good because they give us rest for our soul. By Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith, God's law is no longer a burden, but a joy! "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Our soul's struggle against sin is no longer a losing, but a winning battle. Though we mourn that we have sinned against God, we rejoice more that He has granted us forgiveness! Though we hate the sin that dwells in our members, we rejoice that God has given us a new heart, and will one day perfect us in body and soul. To all who come to Him for salvation, Jesus Christ gives justification, adoption, and sanctification, as well as "assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end." (WSC 38)
A. What a wonderful Savior is Jesus our Lord! Do we know the saving mercy of our God? We can only know it if we mourn the terrible burden of our sin against God, if we hear Christ's call to repent and then flee from our sin to the welcoming arms of His grace. Call out to Him, "O Lord, save me!" (Ps. 3:7; 6:4; 55:16; 109:26; Is. 38:20; Jer. 17:14; Matt. 14:30) Though we are evil, He is good. Though we are weak, He is strong. His saving revelation is for little children, His saving authority is absolute, and His salvation blessings are good.
Funeral Lectionary: Matthew 11:25-30
A reading for the care of the mourners, and one of the more popular among funeral choices:
On one occasion, Jesus spoke thus: “I give praise to You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned You have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to Me by My Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are burden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy, and My burden light.”
The first part of this reading has always struck as an echo of Saint John’s Gospel. And still appropriate today. We have all sorts of knowledge about human health, medicine, and even the dying process. When a person dies, some family members want details. Did he survive the accident? Was he aware? What internal injuries were there? What happened to his heart?
We should be less curious about those factual things. He died. We shouldn’t feel like being wise and learned, but burdened with grief and loss. We want an encounter with Christ, not the medical examiner.
A pastoral minister will be attentive to the wide variety of approaches that mourners bring to a time of death. Some might feel that knowledge and information about death is important. Taking people where they are, that is satisfactory in itself. But a person of faith will likely want more. How can we possibly learn from the burdens of life? What will Christ teach us?
This reading provides ample reflection material for an effective ministry to mourners, as well as keeping the Christ-centered perspective. Christ has the answers. Not medical science. Not superstitions. Christ will give what we need, if we only turn to Him and unburden ourselves.
the wise think in their heart they are intelligent and don’t need wisdom again but the infant will want to know drawing closer for inspiration, wisdom and knowledge which will build their tender heart to believe God the more.
The wise and the intelligent will know the power of God's teachings and do not need to be shown while the infants or the newcomers to the word of God need to be shown the powers of believing in His word and living by His Commandments. Seeing is believing.
The wise and the intelligent will know the power of God's teachings and do not need to be shown while the infants or the newcomers to the word of God need to be shown the powers of believing in His word and living by His Commandments. Seeing is believing.
The infants here has to do with those that keep to God's ways by their words and actions, and these are to get the revelations
They thought because they studied the scriptures they knew the answers. They were boastful and nobody can tell anything. It is easier to teach the infants because of their believe in Jesus and of their humility and their trust in Him
The wise would just assume they came up with the revelation and perhaps not credit the father just a thought actually don't have a clue
I believe it is to teach the wise and intelligent humility and or to appeal to infant minds because they are more open and accepting of the WORD and teachings of the LORD.
The wise and intelligent they will think everything they knows more than God the infants are meek that is why father hide things.
The wise and intelligent may only think they know God's will but Jesus reveals Himself and will to the children because they are pure of heart.
We should come to Jesus Infants so that God can reveal things to us. We must humble ourselves so that God can exalt us. We shouldn't act as if we know more than God.
Because when you consider yourself to be wise and intelligent, you may think that you do not need God. I just had a horrible experience in Academia, where Jesus/God were attacked, slandered, and students were pushed to give up their faith. Yes those who think they are the wisest are often the biggest fools.
Our Father reveals things to the infants because they are pure in heart and mind; they have no ill feeling towards anyone and are well pleasing in the eyes of God. The wise and the intelligent think they know too much and have pride about the same.
Infants or children are totally dependent on their parents. We as Christians should be totally dependent on God. The wise and learned of Jesus day and of today, even religious people are arrogant and prideful, myself included, but I’m working on it and with the Lord with me and me wanting to follow and be obedient I have faith that I will get there. We should be depending on God for every aspect of our lives.
That’s because infants are innocent, they believe and obey what the father says. They are full of love with the father. for them the father is the greatest of all. Whereas the wise and the intelligent feel that they know everything, they boast of their intelligence, and sometimes do not believe and accept the word which is taught to them. They believe they are greater than the rest.
Father wants us ALL to come to HIM as children. Loving, trusting and having faith in HIM. Knowing HIS voice and hearing ONLY what HE speaks as the WAY to HIM. Use the GPS, HE gave US. God is Protecting Scriptures.
infants are innocent, trusting and loving. wise and intelligent believe in themselves.
the kingdom of God is for the meek those who trust in god just like kids
An infant is open-minded and can believe. Where an intelligent person questions things
Because infants will trust in the Father and do his will while the wise and intelligent will do as they please
Because the wise and intelligent are self centre, they think of themselves not God; in their hearts there's no God.
I grew up with the saying a little smarts is a dangerous thing. Someone will hear something and swear it is gospel without proving it. As God asks us to do. "Prove all things." They strut around like they are better than anyone else, PRIDE. The infant hears the word and obeys God because of faith in the Father. This is love not pride.
if you believe in JESUS HE will not hide stuff from you if HE thinks you can get it.
the wise and intelligent are more likely to shun the word of GOD because they will look for reasons why it’s not possible for the wonders that JESUS did in HIS life on earth and all the medicals that GOD performed.
By: Gregorio Magdaleno
Category: Rest for the Weary
| What changes should there have been in cities like Chorazin and Bethsaida as a result of the mighty works performed by Jesus? |
Woe on Unrepentant Cities
Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they didn't repent.
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the Day of Judgment than for you. You, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, you will go down to Hades. For if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which were done in you, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, on the Day of Judgment, than for you."
What changes should there have been in cities like Chorazin and Bethsaida as a result of the mighty works performed by Jesus?
Matthew 11:20-24 - Slow cooked or char grilled?
Are there degrees of hell? This question was asked and one of them said, "I believe Hell is a place where the presence of God and Jesus does not exist so it must be a horrible place. However, if there is any fairness to life and death, then there should be degrees of Hell...this scripture certainly makes you wonder if there is. Whatever, we don’t want to find out personally!"
Some things in the Bible are just plain difficult to understand. Matthew 11:20-24 is one of them. We don’t have to understand everything in God’s Word in order to believe it because we trust in God who knows what He is doing. It won’t always make sense to us. It is good that He is God and we are not. But Matthew 11:15 (NLT) says, "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!" Lord let us hear, listen and understand Your words today.
What is it that we don’t understand all that clearly? In Matthew 11:20 (NLT), it says, "Then Jesus began to DENOUNCE the towns where He had done so many of His miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God." They are unresponsive to Jesus, despite His many miracles.
It makes sense. In fact this passage is the raw truth of its justice mixed with love. Jesus isn’t the sweet, dreamy-eyed, effeminate man with a spiritual song in His voice like a "Let’s-please-everyone" kind of preacher. He lays it on the line and it’s not without emotional heart wrenching sorrow at their stubborn refusal to get right with God.
His Love collides with His Justice as Jesus says "What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago..."
Now here’s what is really difficult to understand. He says emphatically "I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you. ... I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you." (Matthew 11:22, 23 NLT).
Tyre and Sidon were openly wicked and so were Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel 26:7 and 28:11-24, shows that the king of Tyre was so openly wicked he was associated with Satan himself! Korazin and Bethsaida in Jesus day on the other hand were not openly wicked. They were simply indifferent.
This messes with our minds. Degrees of Judgment? Degrees of Hell? Sodom was a place of open homosexuality and perverseness and destroyed in a rain of "brimstone and fire" from God (Genesis 19:24 NLT).
How can they be better off? And if sin comes in degrees does hell come in degrees: slow cook in sheol, flame grilled in gehenna, fairly hot, very hot, microwave and superheat crispy???
When your one year grandson takes a text and color and draws in an expensive book, it is destructive but he doesn’t know that he shouldn’t do it. On the other hand your eldest grandson is without excuse. He knows it is wrong. He has full revelation of this rule and knows the consequences of such an action. Romans 7:7 (NLT) says "... it was the law that showed me my sin. ..."
The key to Sodom, Tyre and Siddon is that despite their wickedness they would have repented. Jesus says in Matthew 11:21 (NLT) "... For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago,... For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today."
Are Tyre and Sidon and Sodom going to be judged on a sliding scale dependent on the amount of Revelation they had? Julie spoke to some Monks in Cambodia recently and they didn’t know who Jesus was and asked all sorts of questions. Will they be judged according to their response to Jesus based on what they know? What about those who never have the opportunity? Will they be judged on a different scale? Whooh! Overload! Too much to sort out here. Leave that till another time!
Here are the facts - Tyre and Sidon didn’t have a Bible that ended at Revelation and didn’t even know about John 3:16. It wasn’t fully revealed to them as yet. No miracles, no message. Yet they would have repented. Korazin and Bethsaida had it all and they were indifferent. Is the sin of indifference higher than the murderous, homosexual perversenesses and wickedness of Sodom? Jesus says it is! How will you respond to Jesus? Any sin can be forgiven except for one: the sin of indifference to Christ.
Of course Tyre, Sidon and Sodom and its people will have to answer for a lot on the Day of Judgment, but they will not have to answer for being indifferent to Jesus and His message and miracles. To reject Jesus and what He has done on the cross for us is the greatest sin of all!
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 (NLT) speaks about "...when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power."
Are there degrees of hell? Does Sodom end up in the same hell as those who are indifferent to Jesus? Do they still suffer for eternity to the same degree? We don’t know how all that works! The Bible doesn’t get down to specifics and we are not God. But it sure makes us say "I don’t intend to find out personally!"
Lord teach us never to be indifferent to You or Your Word. Thank you that there is "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
God bless you Church as you refuse to be indifferent to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Be eager to embrace all that He has to say for your life today. Allow His Holy Spirit to reveal His truth to you.
Matt. 11:20-24 - The Danger of Being Unrepentant
Principio del formulario
A. At its heart repentance is a turn. A change of heart and a change of ways. By God's grace some will repent. Because of their obstinacy others will not. Repentance is an act of man, but also a gift of God's sovereign grace. As such it is a saving grace which only God can give. (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Cor. 7:10; 2 Tim. 2:25; WSC 87; WLC 75, 76) Esau "found no room for repentance, though he sought it with tears." (Heb. 12:17)
Do you have this grace of repentance? Esau may have sought repentance, but he did not have it, because though he grieved he sought to comfort himself by killing his brother! "Godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." (2 Cor. 7:10) Do you have this grace of repentance? It is the mark of a believer, you have a soft heart, a heart that will grieve over sin, and turn from it.
Repentance is the mark of a person who truly knows and receives God's kindness. "God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance." (Rom. 2:4) Christ showed the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum the kind works of His kingdom, and in this passage He tells you His is a kingdom characterized by repentance. And He warns you of the danger of being unrepentant.
A. Outline. Matthew summarizes this danger in v. 20, then Christ shows the true evil and terrible consequences of being unrepentant in vv. 21-24, first addressing Chorazin and Bethsaida in vv. 21-22, then addressing Capernaum in vv. 23-24.
i. Summary of the Danger v. 20
ii. Chorazin and Bethsaida vv. 21-22
iii. Capernaum vv. 23-24
B. Body. Summary of the Danger v. 20. Christ summarizes the danger of being unrepentant in v. 20.
a. 20 Then He began to denounce the cities where most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.
v. Danger: Christ denounced the cities. First Christ denounced the cities. He upbraided them. He said "Shame on you!" It is a shameful thing not to repent.
vi. Reason to repent: Because His mighty works had been done among them. Second we learn why Christ denounced these cities rather than others. These cities were the ones "where most of His mighty works had been done." Christ's mighty works were His miracles which demonstrated God's kindness, which is meant to lead you to repentance. The reason to repent is because you have seen God's mighty works of kindness. Of mercy. Have you seen them?
vii. Reason for denunciation: Obligation: They should, but did not, repent. All men are obligated to repent of their sin because sin is a transgression of God's law. But men who know God's mercy in the gospel are twice as obligated to repent. Not only are they guilty of sin, but they have the way of salvation from sin laid out plainly before them, revealed in the most brilliant light. For that reason they are not only twice as obligated to repent, but twice as guilty if they do not repent. God told His people, "Samaria has not committed half your sins." (Ezek. 16:51)
C. Chorazin & Bethsaida vv. 21-22. Following this introduction Christ tells us the true evil and terrible consequences of being unrepentant.
viii. Woes. Christ pronounces woes upon two cities and their residents.
§ 21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
b. The word "woe" in Hebrew and in Greek is obviously a word of pain: "yAh," "yAa," "ouvai,." It is onomatopoeia; it means what it sounds like. It is the sound someone makes when they hurt.
c. "Woe to you" means grief, sorrow, misery; terrible calamity will come upon you if you do not repent. This is not the final judgment; there is still a delay, there is still time to repent. But if you do not repent, the greatest of curses will fall upon you. You can know this for certain because Jesus Christ, who will be the final Judge, has said so.
ix. The reason for the woe is the lack of repentance. Tyre & Sidon would have repented. The reason for the woe is the lack of repentance.
§ For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
b. Chorazin was on the east, Bethsaida the west, of the Sea of Galilee. Both were fishing towns in which Christ had performed miracles. These people knew boats, and trade. Christ parallels and contrasts them with Tyre and Sidon, two maritime cities known for their wisdom, merchants, wealth, power, pride, greed, theft, and idolatry. They were outside the nation of Israel, so Jesus' point to His Jewish hearers was the sins of God's people were worse than those of the most wicked unbelievers. The residents of Chorazin and Bethsaida had received a greater revelation of God's saving mercy than those in Tyre and Sidon, but were more obstinate in their rebellion.
c. Interestingly, Christ indicates some sinners are more easily converted. As ours ought to be, Tyre and Sidon's repentance would have been speedy and deep; "long ago in sackcloth and ashes." God also said this to Ezekiel.
§ Ezekiel 3:5-7
§ 5 You are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel- 6 not too many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. 7 But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to Me. Because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.
§ This can raise difficult questions about God's decrees.
§ Does Jesus mean God foresees what we might possibly do, then orders events so we make the choices He wants us to make, with the result that He is not sovereign over our free will? This is exactly what Arminianism teaches.
§ Calvin rightly explains Christ's words this way: "he reasons, not of what God foresaw would be done either by the one or by the other, but of what both parties would have done, so far as could be judged from the facts....Christ speaks after the manner of men." Christ speaks about what is plainly observable to men: Tyre and Sidon were ignorant of Christ's miracles; Chorazin and Bethsaida were not. Yet the sins of God's people were equal to, and even greater, than the sins of the pagans! "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." (Heb. 3:12) Now not only the Hebrews, but you Gentiles too, have heard the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and so must repent of your sins. "30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:30-31)
§ You might ask a further question about the idea that Tyre and Sidon would have repented: Is God unjust to not save some who would be more easily saved?
§ The answer is no! God is not unjust! Those who reject Him remain guilty for their sin. "Whoever does not believe is condemned already." (John 3:18)
x. The nature of the woe is a more unbearable condemnation. But it will be more bearable for Tyre & Sidon on the Day of Judgment. In v. 22 Christ says the nature of the woe that will come on the unrepentant is a more unbearable condemnation.
§ 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
b. We see here that the purpose of Christ's miracles was to drive home His gospel message, which was the gospel of faith and repentance. To bring about repentance, and salvation. But if you reject the gospel there is no other way for you to be saved. Christ's point is not that Tyre and Sidon will receive mercy, but that those who will not repent after hearing the gospel will receive a greater punishment. You could have been saved, but you would not turn and live! "Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live." (Ezek. 18:30-32)
B. Capernaum vv. 23-24. Christ addresses Capernaum with the same message, in the same structure, but with minor variations.
§ 23 And you, Capernaum,
b. Christ addressed Capernaum with emphasis, calling its residents to attention with the word "you," calling them to remember they heard Christ's teaching personally and saw His miracles from day to day while He kept His residence among them for a time. Have you seen God's grace personally? God's mercies are new every morning, and He displays His mercies abundantly in Christ's body, the church. "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Is. 55:6-7) Because Christ's early ministry was based there, Capernaum was like Shiloh, of which God said in Jeremiah 7:12-14, "12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, 14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by My name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh."
xii. Not exalted but brought down. Christ doesn't use the word "woe," but presents its content. The residents of Capernaum were honored with Christ's presence for a time, but that will mean nothing to the final Judge because it meant nothing to them! Christ said,
§ Will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades.
b. All the time you spend in "The temple of the Lord" (Jer. 7:4) will not save you, but only faith in the Lamb who was slain on its altar, and repentance from your sin. But the more of God's grace you reject, the more of God's wrath you will receive. A true Christian is not proud of his membership in the church, and does not boast of his seat at Christ's table, but cries "Lord, why was I a guest?" "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps. 51:17) Do you think you don't need the miracles of Christ to heal you, His mercies to save you, daily time with Him in His word to feed your soul and in prayer to commune with your Savior who gave His life so that you might live? Pray for "a broken and contrite heart" before the awesome holiness and saving grace of God.
xiii. Sodom would have remained. Like Tyre and Sidon, Sodom "would have remained until this day," because by implication, it would have repented.
§ For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
b. "Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord." (Gen. 13:13) Sodom's sin was great, but Capernaum's sin was greater than the sin of Sodom. Tyre and Sidon had begun to recover, but Sodom had not. Sodom's sin was sexual immorality, homosexuality (Gen. 19:5; Jude 7), arrogance and abuse of the poor (Ezek. 16:49, 40), and inhospitality (Gen. 19:8). Sodom was malicious; the height of wickedness.
xiv. But it will be more bearable for Sodom on the Day of Judgment. Yet in v. 24 Christ says,
§ 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom than for you."
b. Today we are advantaged more than Capernaum, because we have the full revelation of the gospel recorded for us in the pages of the New Testament. We have the gospel preached to us; the gospel ordinances administered to us, and live in the age of the Spirit. Unlike Capernaum we have seen Christ risen from the dead, His ascension into glory, His acts by His Spirit in His church saving men through 20 centuries and to the ends of the earth. We who stand in the full light of day will be greater debtors than Capernaum in the final judgment whether we go to Heaven or Hell, greater debtors to God's mercy in Heaven, or greater debtors to God's justice in Hell.
c. If you do not believe this, you need to recognize God has done it once before, and He will do it again. The sin of God's people in the OT was greater than that of Sodom, therefore its punishment was greater than that of Sodom as well.
§ Ezekiel 16:46-51 tells us Israel's sin was greater than Sodom's.
§ 46 Your elder sister is Samaria, who lived with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. 47 Not only did you walk in their ways and do according to their abominations; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways. 48 As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before Me. So I removed them, when I saw it. 51 Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed.
§ Lamentations 4:6 says "The chastisement of the daughter of my people has been greater than the punishment of Sodom."
§ Amos 4:11-13 tells us the Exile's foretaste of the final judgment did not bring hard-hearted Israel to repentance, and that is why Christ would come once for salvation, and a second time for judgment.
§ 11 "I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning; yet you did not return to Me," declares the LORD. 12 "Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!" 13 For behold, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth, the LORD, the God of hosts, is His name!
§ Because you have tasted of the heavenly gift of salvation, you will be a greater debtor to God's mercy in Heaven, or His justice in Hell, than even the most wicked men of Sodom. God has done this once before, and He will do it again. 2 Peter 2:6-9 tells us,
§ 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes He condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;
§ 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked...
§ 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the Day of Judgment.
§ Because Christ's kingdom comes with a better covenant founded on better promises, with a greater Prophet, greater revelation, greater power, greater mercy and greater condemnation, it is a kingdom of a greater repentance. He commands all people to repent, but also graciously gives what He commands, abundant repentance by the power of His Spirit. "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Pet. 3:9)
IV. Have you hardened your heart against the Lord this past week? Remember the greatness of God's justice and mercy which you above those in all former ages have learned, and repent. "The day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it? 12 ‘Yet even now,' declares the LORD, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.' Return to the LORD, Your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster." (Joel 2:11-13)
Woe to You, Korazin! | Matthew 11:20-24
Being compared to the Sodomites was no small thing. The Sodomites were the penultimate example of human depravity and their destruction was the ultimate example of God’s justice in response to their unrestrained wickedness. And so utterly depraved were the Sodomites that the night before their destruction they tried to gang rape two male visitors (who turned out to be angles) on the eve of their destruction. This was a city so wicked that God felt compelled to intervene in a spectacular and supernatural way.
So imagine, being a resident of Capernaum and hearing that Jesus had just compared your town to the most infamous people imaginable. Either it would have greatly offended your highly sanitized religious sensibilities or it would cause you to quake in fear.
But Capernaum did not fear Jesus’ warning.
From all outward appearances, it does seem strange that Jesus would make a comparison between an ancient town of morally depraved, pagan Gentiles and a contemporary Jewish village that Jesus had made His ministry’s headquarters. Capernaum was not a town of blood-thirsty rapists like the Sodomites. Of course, they did not believe in Jesus after His miracles had been performed. But that was no reason for Jesus to claim that Capernaum was worse than Sodom.
Or was it?
Here is why the sins of Capernaum, Korazin, and Bethsaida are worse than Sodom, and also worse than the sins found among the modern Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon: the town rejected the greatest of all gifts. Over the course of centuries, the long awaited Messiah was considered to be the greatest promise. The age of the Messiah was considered to be a golden age that prophets and kings of old had longed for and could only look on from a distance.
And the Messiah had not just come to Israel in their lifetimes; He had come to their part of Israel. And He had not just come to their part of Israel, but He worked miracles before their eyes. The hatred that the cities of Capernaum, Korazin, and Bethsaida had expressed was a special kind of hatred towards God. They had doubted their own eyes and had shut their ears to the wisdom of God that flowed freely from the lips of Jesus.
In spite of their doubts, Jesus gave these towns a final warning. He gave them an opportunity to repent and come to faith in Him. His rebukes were harsh, but His rebukes were given to them while there is still time for repentance.
All who receive the Gospel must be doubly diligent to not become hard hearted and to turn away from it. For if these people were condemned for rejecting miracles performed in their presence, what will become of us if we turn away, we who have been given the gift of the Gospel with the benefit of hindsight to learn from their mistakes? Their doubt is a thing that should make us shudder, just as the doubt of our age should make us tremble and run to Christ.
If Jesus were to visit your community today, what would He say? Would He issue a warning like the one He gave to Chorazin and Bethsaida? And how would you respond? Wherever Jesus went He did mighty works to show the people how much God had for them. Chorazin and Bethsaida had been blessed with the visitation of God. They heard the good news and experienced the wonderful works which Jesus did for them. Why was Jesus upset with these communities? The word woe is also translated as alas. It is as much as an expression of sorrowful pity as it is of anger. Why does Jesus lament and issue a stern warning? The people who heard the gospel here very likely responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing! Repentance demands change, a change of heart and way of life. God's word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction, the destruction of soul as well as body. Jesus' anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God. In love He calls us to walk in His way of truth and freedom, grace and loving-kindness, justice and holiness. Do you receive His word with faith and obedience or with doubt and indifference?
"Most High and glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our hearts and give us a true faith, a certain hope and a perfect love. Give us a sense of the divine and knowledge of Yourself, so that we may do everything in fulfillment of Your holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Prayer of Francis of Asis)
Repentance would have been seen in the cities, love for one another, true worship of God rather than their idolatry, conversion of sinners. But all these were not seen in them.
He people should have become more loving and caring of mankind. They should have asked to be forgiven for their sinful ways and committed themselves to God.
There would have repented and their sins forgiven them, due to the mighty works performed by Jesus in the cities.
For all the mighty works that has been done in that two cities the people should have repented their sins and accept Jesus as the Son of God and believe in Him
The works of Jesus should have been enough for the cities to repent and follow Jesus.
"The mighty works should have led to repentance, had not the people been very perverse at heart".
The people of cities like Chorazin and Bethsaida should have faith in Jesus and then should have repented and turned away from their sins.
They could have believed He is the son of GOD
They should have repented off their sins and believed in the teachings of the Lord that would lead them to the path of righteousness.
They need to repent and confess their sins for God forgiveness
Belief, confession and repentance.
When you repent of your sins you are to change your ways and not go back, so they should have changed their ways completely and repented of their sins.
They should be full of joy and happiness. A City full of believers in JESUS.
Repent and live for Christ not for the flesh driven thinking!
Repentance, asking for forgiveness and following the ways of the Lord and preach the good news to other cities who had not received Him
These cities should have repented and acknowledged that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. Peace be with you.
They should have, and most normal people would have been amazed at the miracles performed by Jesus. They should have repented from their sinful ways and lifestyle and started following Jesus teachings. Instead it sounds like they just had a sense of entitlement and did not acknowledge who had blessed them. They should have been in awe and thankful of how they had been blessed.
Their hearts must have been so hardened, that in spite of witnessing the very miracles of God/Jesus, they chose to turn their backs on the Author of Life. Their sins must have blinded them in their hearts and minds. So very sad for those people.
The people should have repented of their sins and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives.
They rejected Christ and didn't repent of their evil deeds. One namely is idolatry. Although Jesus showed those people mighty works, repentance was far from their hearts. His miracles should have convinced them that He was the true Messiah. But their stubbornness and willingness to sin caused them to fall under judgment.
I think their behavior should have been humble and grateful, after being the first
To see and participate in the glorious works that Jesus had performed in their cities.
Repentance of sin, following of Jesus’ teaching, and belief that Jesus was (is) the Messiah, Son of the Living God.
There should have been more believers. More people should have been repenting for their sins, and asking God to come into their lives and dwell inside them. Order, peace, love, restoration, etc., would have been restored to the cities
They should have been more repented and falling down on their knees and praising GOD for the mighty works that HE had performed. Seeing that HE had all power and nothing was impossible for HIM there should have been nothing to think about.
The people should have repented of their sins and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives. They saw the miracles but still didn't believe Jesus is the Son of God and didn't believe they needed to repent of their sins
THE CITIES SHOULD HAVE TURNED AWAY FROM WRONG DOINGS AND REPENT TO INHERIT EVERLASTING LIFE.By: Gregorio Magdaleno
Category: Woe on Unrepentant Cities
| When answering John`s question about whether He was the Christ, why did Jesus point out the results of his ministry rather than just saying yes or no? |
Jesus and John the Baptist
It happened that when Jesus had finished directing His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are you He who comes, or should we look for another?"
Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. Blessed is he who finds no occasion for stumbling in Me."
As these went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in king's houses. But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send My messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.' Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptizer; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptizer until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. If you are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call to their companions and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you didn't dance. We mourned for you, and you didn't lament.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children."
When answering John`s question about whether He was the Christ, why did Jesus point out the results of His ministry rather than just saying yes or no?
The next section we will study will be Matthew 11:1-19, which is the account of John’s question from prison and Jesus’ response to it.
Matthew 10 records Jesus’ sending the disciples out to preach the message of the kingdom to the people of Israel. It is part of His presentation of the message to His own people first before turning to the Gentiles. The chapter is filled with the instructions that Jesus gave them as they went out, most of which are fairly easy to understand. That commission for the disciples was their first testing in ministry, a field assignment after the teaching, as it were. It certainly required them to make a total commitment to Christ and to rely totally on God’s protection and provision.
The passage has provided Christian workers over the years with spiritual guidelines for their work. The only difficulties in dealing with that chapter are the specific instructions that could only apply to the disciples in their situation, such as being sent only to Israelites. Any application of them has to find corresponding situations in the modern setting, we are sent to the whole world now.
But Matthew 11 is a totally different section. It begins with an incident and leads to a teaching, a teaching that first honors John and then explains his question. The explanation that Christ gave for the question serves Matthew’s treatment of the turning point in the ministry of Jesus. His year of popularity has changed to a time of opposition by the leaders and those whom they influenced. So in Matthew 11 and 12 we will see the dramatic change in subject matter from Jesus’ revealing His authority to the nation to Jesus’ refutation of the attacks made on Him. Matthew 11 starts the tracking of that opposition with word of John’s imprisonment.
Observations on the Text:
There are really three sections of this passage, if we think about the progression of ideas. The first is the question from John and Jesus’ answer (1-6). The second is Jesus’ comments about John; some have said it was Jesus’ eulogy of John who was about to be beheaded in prison (7-15). This section was necessary because Jesus needed to remove any doubts in the people’s mind about John’s faith in view of his question. And then we have a third section in which Jesus gives the reason for the question John asked, the fickle nation had rejected John and Jesus (16-19). Had the nation received the message of John and the message of Jesus, John might not have been imprisoned at all. But the rejection brought all kinds of questions about the plan of God.
It is interesting that in each section there are quotations to answer the questions. The first question was John’s about Jesus, and Jesus answered it with a collection of quotations from the Book of Isaiah about what the Messiah should be doing. In the second part Jesus asks a number of questions about John and answers them with the support of the prophecy in the Book of Malachi. In the last section Jesus asks the question about the current generation of people, and then answers it, not with a quotation from the Bible but with a quotation about what children say in their play. It seems appropriate that Scripture is used to comfort John in prison and to confirm his greatness as the prophet who would be the forerunner; and it seems appropriate that a silly ditty would be used to explain the unbelief of the fickle, self-willed people.
Each of the three sections is closed with a wisdom saying. At the end of the first section Jesus says, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of Me.” John may have had questions, as indeed others probably did, but he was satisfied that Jesus was the Messiah. At the end of the second section Jesus said, “He who has ears let him hear.” This kind of a statement calls for a faith response to what has been said. And then at the end of the last section Jesus says, “Wisdom is proved right by her actions.” The results of the ministries of John and Jesus will validate what they were doing.
There are throughout this section a number of questions. They are not rhetorical questions, questions used to make a point but without the expectation of an answer. Rather, they are very effective teaching devices because the answers are either self-evident or answered by Jesus.
Analysis of the Text:
It will be easier to deal with the meanings of the words and expressions and with the citations from the Old Testament within the analysis of the sections rather than separately. But once again our method will be the same, even though in slightly different order: determine the meanings of the words in their context, explain the meaning and relevance of the Old Testament quotation in the passage, and decide what the main point of all these statements would be.
1. In response to John’s question Jesus affirms that He is the Messiah (11:1-6). In this first section we can probably skip over verse 1 as a transition verse connecting this event to the preceding instruction of the twelve. The chapter does actually continue their training, for here they will see one, John, who was arrested and killed eventually for Jesus’ sake. John then lived and died what Jesus taught in Matthew 10. This could be a fascinating way to study the last chapter.
But the immediate narrative begins with the question from John. We know that John the Baptist was put into prison by Herod Antipas (son of Herod the Great) because he had preached against the king for taking his brother’s wife. John’s ministry, then, was a short one of a couple of years. He had had the privilege, though, of introducing Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. And that prophetic message he was given to proclaim was confirmed to him when he baptized Jesus and witnessed the divine approval from heaven. And still, those events, compelling as they were, lost some of their effect on him when he was in prison.
And so when John heard the things that Jesus was doing, he sent his disciples to ask, “Are you the Messiah or should we expect someone else?” This is not such a surprising question for an Israelite. Every king who came to the throne in Jerusalem was “anointed,” was a “messiah.” And each of them knew that God was going to bring in the golden age with His anointed one. Each of the believing kings who came to the throne may have wondered if it might happen in his reign, until there was a war, or he sinned and was denounced by the prophet. And so they would look for another, maybe the next king. John had certainly been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, but things had not been going as he thought they might if Jesus was the promised one.
In considering John’s question we need to think through the Messianic expectations of the people a little bit, it will figure prominently in this chapter. Most people expected a Messiah who would expel the Gentile oppressors from the land and establish a kingdom of righteousness and peace. They did not expect, and did not understand, that Jesus would not do that but would die at their hands. It actually took the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost before the disciple were able to put together what the plan was, even though Jesus tried to explain it to them again and again.
Part of the explanation of John’s question can be learned from Jesus’ answer. He simply told John’s disciples to go and tell John what they heard and saw. And then what Jesus listed was a number of works that the prophet Isaiah had said would be done by Messiah or in the Messianic Age. Most of these come from Isaiah 35 and Isaiah 61. Messiah was expected to do the miraculous, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and the ability to walk to the lame. Messiah was also going to heal lepers because they were barred by the Law from the presence of God in the Temple. And Messiah would also do away with death according to Isaiah’s prophecies. So; good news, the gospel as we call it, was being preached to the poor. These were works that Jesus was doing that would be recognized as works the Messiah was to do, works that only the Messiah could do.
But interestingly Jesus left one significant work out: Messiah would set the prisoner free and loose the captives. John was in prison. Now we begin to see John’s problem. He had heard what Jesus was doing, the works of the Messiah. But why then was he in prison? His question was probably not so much of doubt, but rather a mild prod for Jesus to do the work of Messiah. But Jesus’ answer to John only confirmed that He was the Messiah; the silence about the prison indicated that John was to stay in prison.
Before going on it is helpful to make a theological observation here. God has His plan and His timetable for His plan. He knew, as we now do, that Jesus had to suffer and die before entering into His kingdom. Otherwise there would be no redemption. So John, and many others, would have to suffer with Christ and His rejection by the nation. In one sense Jesus’ answer to John was that He was doing the Messianic works, but not all of them yet. He first had to suffer and die to rescue people from the prison of sin, and then He would establish His reign. In another sense Jesus was simply telling John that He was the Messiah but John would have to trust Him because He knew what He was doing. No doubt this was enough for John. If it was part of the Messiah’s plan for John to die in prison, that was fine as long as He received the word from the Lord.
2. Jesus appraised the ministry of John and confirmed His own Messiah ship (11:7-15). As the disciples of John were leaving Jesus felt compelled to defend John’s integrity. The crowds may have been shocked or amazed at what John was asking. And so Jesus begins a series of questions to affirm that John was firm in the faith, not swaying in the breeze like the reeds by the river, and that John was a prophet who opposed the finery of the corrupt palaces. John was not fickle, tossed to and fro by public opinion. And John did not have undisciplined weakness; he was not living the fine life with soft (or even effeminate) clothing like the king who was keeping John in prison, but the rugged life of a prophet. So Jesus wanted to disarm their questions and suspicions.
John was a prophet in every sense of the word. He was more than a prophet, because he also was prophesied about in the Old Testament as the one who would announce the inauguration of the “Day of Yahweh.” So Jesus reminds the people of the words of the last prophet, Malachi: “I will send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.” This is Malachi 3:1. Now to get the full impact of what is being said here, you really need to go back and look at the context of Malachi 3. There we read:
See, I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom you desire, He will come.”
There are a couple of things worth noting here that inform the New Testament use of the passage. First, Jesus changed the pronoun from “me” to “you.” In the oracle in Malachi if we read the whole paragraph, verses 1-5, we will see that the speaker is Yahweh, God Himself. He is sending the messenger before Himself, because according to verse 5 He will come in judgment. The great event was the coming of the Yahweh; and the announcement of it would be through the messenger. Jesus wanted His audience to be clear on that point, and so by changing the pronoun in His use of the verse He affirms that if John the Baptist was the messenger preparing the way for the Yahweh, then He, Jesus, is Yahweh in the flesh, the God of Israel who was coming into the world.
The second thing is to observe that in Malachi the messenger of the covenant, Jesus the Lord, will come to “His temple.” Here too we have a subtle indication of the deity of Christ. All through the Old Testament the temple is called “the house of Yahweh” (the house of the Lord). Malachi prophesied that the messenger of the covenant would come to “His” temple, He is the Lord.
Now in the next few verses the sayings of Jesus get more difficult. When we run into a section like this, we can read it and study it and try to capture what the sense of it is, but we may need to go to a commentary or two in order to see what some of the options are for interpretation. The first difficult saying is that John was greater than all born of women, and yet the least in the kingdom will be greater than he (v. 11). On the one hand John is acclaimed as the greatest human being because he was a prophet, he was prophesied about, and he was the one who introduced the Messiah and the Day of the Lord to the world. But who is the least in the kingdom and in what sense is he greater than John? One view takes the “least” to be the “younger,” referring to Jesus Himself, He is the younger one and greater than John. No one would argue that He is greater, but “younger” is forced. Another view takes “the least in the kingdom” to refer to the future phase of the kingdom, in all its glory. John only got to announce it, but others will see it in all its glory. But that view would suggest John will not be in the kingdom. The third and better view has to do with “greater” in the sense of ministry or witness. John was great because he could point unambiguously to Jesus as the Messiah. But now that the New Covenant has been inaugurated in the Upper Room, and Christ has died, risen and ascended to heaven, the least in the kingdom has a greater witness than John. And this fits the context which is about John’s ministry, and the previous chapter which focused on the disciples’ task of acknowledging who Jesus is to the world. The most humble Christian has greater knowledge and greater opportunity than John the Baptist had. Of course, if they do nothing with that, then the description does not fit. But potentially they are greater.
The second difficulty in this section is the idea of the kingdom being taken by force (v. 12). Here too there are a lot of suggestions and interpretations. It is worth noting that the interpretation of the whole passage is not greatly affected by the decision of interpretation of this one verse. Nevertheless, we may come to our ideas and present them with the caution that other good interpreters disagree. The work would involve word studies here to see the range of uses for “force” and “lay hold of.” The text says that the kingdom has been forcefully advancing from the time of John until now, as Jesus was speaking. That has to be in either a good sense (the Gospel is working) or in a bad sense (the zealots are trying to force the issue with Rome). The good sense works better. If it meant that the kingdom was under attack or being pushed by the zealots that did not start in the days of John. But with John and then immediately Jesus, the message of the Kingdom and the Gospel was being proclaimed and was being received by multitudes. John heard about this in prison.
The next clause then states “and forceful men take hold of it.” One view is that if the kingdom is steadily advancing, those who join in its cause must be courageous and openly promoting it. But this verb “lay hold of” almost always has a negative or evil sense. The violent or forceful4 “men” here could be zealots, Pharisees, Herod, or even spirits. This would then mean that the two clauses are different: the verse would then say that from the time of John the Kingdom preached by Jesus has been making great inroads, but at the same time wicked men have been trying to plunder it for their purposes, such as by beheading John. The point would be that the kingdom has been advancing, but it has not swept aside all opposition as John had expected. As the kingdom advances, the attacks on it by violent men increase. Jesus will later explain why this is the case; but for now it explains why John is in prison and wondering.
Then the third difficulty is verse 14: “If you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who was to come.” Now you have to go back to Malachi to get the background for this. Malachi 4:5 announces that the Lord is sending Elijah before the great and terrible Day of the Lord (you might want to read Malachi 3 and 4 through to see his vision. There is some ambiguity in Malachi, because he does not say the “messenger” of 3:1 is “Elijah” of 4:5. They are separated by a description of the judgment to be poured out on the earth. If you only had Malachi, you could conclude they are different, and you could conclude they are one and the same. In the New Testament John was asked if he was Elijah, and he said he was not (John 1:21). But Jesus here says, “If you receive it” he is Elijah.
Most commentators say that John (in John 1:21) was wrong. He saw himself as the voice crying in the wilderness but did not see himself as fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy. This is possible, for in our passage we have already seen that John may have been perplexed on how things were working out. But if this view is correct, then Jesus was saying that John fulfilled the prediction of an Elijah who would prepare for the great and terrible Day of the Lord. Obviously, John was not literally Elijah, for that would involve something phenomenal, akin to re-incarnation, since John was born of natural means. But it would mean that John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, an Elijah figure.
Others are not satisfied with this view and suggest the key is in the contingency clause, “If you receive it.” This would not be interpreted as “if you like” or “if you are willing to accept this saying” but “if you receive the whole message of the kingdom.” It would be understood in the sense of “He came to His own, and His own received Him not.” If they had received Him and His message, John would have fit all the conditions of the promise of Elijah. But they did not, and so the prophecy of an Elijah still stands and may be fulfilled literally before the second coming. And some even point to the appearance of Elijah with Moses at the Transfiguration as a preview of this.
There are many other views offered, but these are the more plausible. The whole Elijah prophecy deserves a thorough study before we make up our mind. The solution does not change the interpretation of the whole passage, which essentially is acclaiming the greatness of John the Baptist.
3. Jesus explains the problem of John (11:16-19). Obviously something has happened that led to John’s question, something hinted at already with the men of violence plundering the kingdom, the king and the kingdom are being opposed and rejected. So Jesus offered this explanation with a simile: He compared that generation to children playing in the marketplace. What is so helpful in Bible study here is that not only did Jesus give the figure but then explained it. So He said that generation was a fickle generation, fickle like children, who want things to go their way. But John, and then Jesus, did not play their game.
First He takes the line of the little song, “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.” If John was the forerunner announcing the Day of the Lord, and if Jesus was the Messiah he introduced, then there should have been celebration and rejoicing. But John did not dance. He did not even come eating normally or drinking wine. He came turning his back on the society and demanding that it repent. He announced that the axe was at the base of the tree and judgment was coming if they did not repent. The people said he had a demon.
They also sang, “We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” If Jesus was their Messiah, He should have taken up their cause as an oppressed people. He should have lamented with them over their suffering at the hands of the Romans. But instead, He came eating and drinking, as if celebrating life as it was. He ate with sinners, even with Romans and tax-collectors. And so of Him they were saying that He was a glutton and drunkard.
All that generation did was demand that John and Jesus conform to their way of thinking, and when they did not they criticized, or killed them. They hated the message of repentance and of the proclamation of the Gospel, and so they played their control game while Rome burned. But if they had understood John and had come to repentance, then they would have understood Jesus. So once again the issue seems to be that the unbelief and opposition of people not only criticized and attacked the messenger and the Messiah, but by doing so raised all kinds of questions about the Messiah. And Jesus, in answering the questions, affirmed that John was the messenger and He the Messiah.
The last statement, which is difficult to interpret, was designed to say that wisdom, which throughout the Bible is concerned with right living, has been vindicated by her actions. Or, both the lifestyles of John and of Jesus must be acknowledged as authentically what wisdom produces. John had a mission to call the nation to repentance, and his lifestyle harmonized with that mission. Jesus presented the message of the kingdom to all who would receive it, and His lifestyle harmonized with that part of His mission. And through the ministries of John and Jesus, the kingdom made steady advances, even though men of violence like Herod tried to subvert it.
No great deal with synoptic comparisons is required because there is not a great need to do so with this passage. The ongoing discussion of the sequence of events and whether or not Matthew has rearranged the speeches of Jesus will be of interest to some students of the Bible, but will not change the meaning of what Jesus said about John and about the Kingdom.
Other New Testament passages will undoubtedly come up when studying this passage with its many themes. Most importantly will be the distinction between the present form of the Kingdom, the advance of it through the Gospel, and the fulfillment of it at the second coming. Many passages address these things, and a good article or discussion on the Kingdom or on the Gospel will open them up to us.
The nature of the ministry of the prophet to prepare the way for the Lord is an interesting theme that the church has picked up on for its prophetic ministry. Believers today have the task of preparing the way for the Lord at His second coming. And that involves calling people to repentance.
The Old Testament passages to be connected with this passage were discussed in the preceding section.
Conclusions and Applications
The meaning of the passage should now be pretty clear, in the whole if not in every part. The passage is really about John the Baptist, his concerns, his vindication and his appraisal. But in dealing with John the passage affirms that Jesus is the Messiah, that the Kingdom of God had come and was beginning to take hold, and that the Day of the Lord was beginning. But these great events would not fully come until the second coming, as the rest of Scripture will affirm again and again.
The lessons that can be drawn from a passage like this are many. First, we should try to capture the main point of this chapter that may be that, God’s kingdom program is on course in spite of opposition and confusion. The passage makes it clear that John was the forerunner, and Jesus the divine Messiah. With those truths in mind we can build our faith in Him. We know that He does what the Messiah was to do, and so like others we can avail ourselves of His wonderful provisions of meeting all our needs. This was the vision Isaiah presented of what the Messiah would do; and it has always made steady growth throughout the world.
Those who oppose it, unbelievers all, are those who in their pride think they know how the faith should be developed, and it usually is in harmony with their own will. But repentance involves submitting to the will of God.
But we must acknowledge that the kingdom is already here but it has not yet come. That means that some aspects of it are working out, but some are not. John died in prison. And if the Lord tarries we may die before His return. We still are in the faith phase of the program, not the sight or the completion. There will be many things that happen in opposition to the program of God that will make us wonder if He really is the Coming One, or at least why these things happen. But Jesus’ words to John help us here: Trust me, I am the Divine Messiah. There is opposition, and until that opposition is put down, things will at times seem to go awry.
Another lesson would be that the least in the kingdom is greater than John. Every believer, no matter of what rank in the church pecking order, knows more than John knew, and therefore has the greater opportunity to tell the world about Jesus the Messiah. Most of the world will be like the marketplace children, because they want the religion to conform to their own way of thinking. But others will hear and repent and enter the kingdom by faith. We like John should be focused on our mission, not wavering like the reeds, and not seduced by the finery of a comfortable life that can deaden the zeal and commitment. And we like John may find opposition when we stand up and tell the world the truth. But greatness with God is determined by faithfulness.
There are many other observations and lessons that could be drawn from this passage. With this study in mind, though, the framework for thinking about those smaller points is set. We can think about the present ministry of Jesus in meeting the needs of people, the hard heartedness of unbelief that will not submit to Christ, the criticism of the world that does not understand because it has not received the wisdom of God, the reality of the nature of Jesus as the Lord who comes to His temple, and the predictions about John, Jesus, and how their fulfillment conform the truth of God’s word.
Have you ever felt really let down by something? Maybe it was a meal at some well-known restaurant. You'd looked forward to tasting this particular chef's cuisine for so long but when you actually got to try the food, it was strikingly ordinary. Or perhaps it was some long-anticipated movie: maybe it was the sequel to another film you had really enjoyed and so you had waited for years for the next installment of the series to come out. You eagerly went to the theater on opening day only to discover the new movie turned out really boring.
And so you feel let down, disappointed, deflated. Well, if this has ever happened to you, then you perhaps also know that it's finally a little difficult to admit that the food or the film in question really wasn't all that good. You maybe hedge a bit; do some hemming and hawing, when someone later asks you how it was. "Was it everything you thought it would be?" to which you reply, "Yeah, it was good. I pretty well liked it. It was fine, Ok, not bad." But deep down you know the truth: all your waiting looks to have been in vain. Somebody in the kitchen or behind the camera let you down, leaving your high-flying expectations in tatters.
Shifting to Matthew 11; John the Baptist is in prison. In prison! Let those two little words sink in. He's in prison. A place not so nice even for a visit. The very man who had attracted a flurry of attention in recent years because of his no-holds-barred announcements of a new world order that was just around the corner; this one, this man, this fiery preacher who shook up everything and everyone with his blazing rhetoric about kingdom come; this John, this man, this preacher is in prison. In prison! And he's got a question. He's in prison where you have nothing but time to think and so John's has come up with a question. But the person to whom he wants to pose that question isn't there and hasn't visited him lately, either. So John dispatches a cadre of his friends to go to Galilee, track down his cousin Jesus, and confront Him with the question which was tormenting John there in prison.
"Are you the one, or should we be expecting someone else one of these here days?" This is a question borne of let-down. John's in prison. In prison, which is the last place he ever thought he'd end up. Worse yet, the reason he is in prison is precisely because he had gotten into a snoot-full of trouble by announcing that his cousin Jesus was the lamb of God, the Messiah, the Christ, Whose sandals John himself was not even fit to carry or lace up. John was in prison because he'd told the world that his baptism by water was nothing compared to the baptism by fire that Jesus would soon unleash.
That's what landed John in prison. But as the days and weeks passed, it became increasingly clear that Jesus was not going to do anything to spring John from his cell. No political revolution was on the horizon which could lead to John's release and pardon by the new emperor named Jesus. Plus, Jesus was not baptizing anybody, not even with water much less by fire. In fact, though John had heard many reports and rumblings about what Jesus was doing way out in the sticks of Galilee, the simple fact of the matter was that Jesus was out in the sticks, quietly performing a ministry which no one would describe as fiery.
John had been the preview of coming attractions. He was like those titillating movie previews you see before the main feature, those trailers that make the film you're looking forward to appear to be spectacular and gripping and just generally everything you're hoping it will be. John had presented and packaged Jesus a certain way, but Jesus was flat out not living up to John's advance billing. In his darker moments, John thinks he landed in prison for nothing. He just maybe had pegged the wrong man. He's in prison, and he's got a question. "Jesus, are you the One or what? Is anybody else, anybody better, waiting in the wings? If so, bring Him on before it's too late!"
Do you think Jesus winced when heard that question as delivered by John's disciples? It is a cutting question, a piercing inquiry. It had to hurt a little. All Jesus can do in answering this painful query is to tell John's disciples to tell John what they had seen and heard: some true miracles were being done here and there and genuinely good news was getting preached to the poor. It was an interesting answer in several ways. First, isn't it fascinating to realize that if John was going to believe Jesus was the Messiah, he would have to do so the exact same way we do: by believing what other people report about Jesus and His ministry! John himself was not able to hear Jesus' words directly nor could he witness a single miracle in person. John would just have to believe the testimony of the disciples, which is all we have to go on, too. We have to believe that what the disciples claim they saw and heard is the truth.
A second curiosity is that apparently Jesus is telling John what he already knows. We were told in verse 2 that in prison John had already heard what Jesus was doing. Actually, that's not quite what verse 2 says. Did you notice how clever Matthew was? He referred to Jesus not by name but simply as "Christ." Within the narrative section of Matthew's gospel this is only the second place where you find the word "Christ." The first came in chapter 2 when the Magi prompt King Herod to ask his Bible experts where "the Christ" was supposed to be born. But Matthew has not called Jesus the Christ until now. Now he throws in the very loaded title of Christ, Messiah. Everything Jesus is doing is happening only because He is the Christ. John has heard about Jesus' activity and yet he himself is not at all certain that this is what the Christ should be doing. So John asks his painful question only to receive an answer from Jesus which repeats what John has already heard.
But the third interesting thing about Jesus' answer is the last line He tacks on: "Blessed is the one who does not fall away on account of me." In a way that little tag line is Jesus' gentle way of kicking John in the pants! Even so, Jesus is being kind and compassionate with John. Jesus did not say, "Blessed is the one who never, ever has the slightest doubt about me!" Had he said something like that Jesus would have slammed John as well as anyone else who has ever harbored a doubt in the quiet recesses of his or her heart. But Jesus didn't chide John for having a hard time figuring everything out. Jesus did not deny that his ministry was rather surprisingly quiet even as it was happening in rather out-of-the-way locales.
Jesus was the Christ, as Matthew told us in verse 2. He was doing God's work, the most important part of which was preaching good news to the poor. The power of God's Spirit was upon Jesus, even if that Spirit was not manifesting itself in the fiery ways John had maybe envisioned. It was all true. But believing that required accepting the peculiar shape Jesus' ministry was taking. John had drilled a round hole to make way for Jesus' ministry, but the actual ministry looked like a square peg.
The NIV translates Jesus' words in verse 6 as blessing the one "who does not fall away on account of me." Actually, the original word in the Greek is skandalizo, which means to be scandalized by Jesus. Even more originally, in Jesus' day a "scandal" was literally something you could trip over and so cause you to fall flat on your face. So if you left a box in the middle of a dark hallway and someone took a header over it, the Greeks would say that the box was a skandalon, a scandal, something that can trip people up.
In order to enter God's kingdom you need to pass through Jesus. He is the door, the way, the gate that leads to life. So blessed are those who can pass through that door without tripping over the nature of Jesus' life and ministry. Blessed is anybody who can see Jesus for who He really is despite the fact that Jesus led no major political revolutions, made apparently no impact on the Caesar in his day. Blessed is anybody who can admit that Jesus really did get crossed out by the Romans while at the same time believing He is the resurrected Lord of life even yet today.
All John had to go on was the gospel as reported by others. All John could do was live with the contradictions he felt in his heart and in the actual circumstances of his life. He had introduced God's Christ to the world, laid the groundwork and prepared the way for Jesus, and yet now he was in prison. He was rotting in prison even as the Jesus he had so highly touted was way out in Timbuktu doing what, to John's mind anyway, looked like the spiritual equivalent of doing no more than helping little old ladies across the street!
That's the way John saw things through the bars of his prison cell. John's faith, if it was going to exist at all, had to embrace and live with the contradictions. It was not merely doubt which John had to overcome but glaring inconsistency. Jesus as much as admits to the oddity of it all but can finally do no more than beg that people not trip over it, not fall on their faces because of it. Faith is as often as not a matter of maintaining your balance while you walk across the bumpy contradictions of life; faith is as often as not the ability to live with a certain measure of creative tension between what you believe in your heart and what you so often see with your eyes.
We are not in prison today. We are not in a situation comparable to John the Baptist's situation on that long ago day as reported in Matthew 11. We've even got twenty centuries' worth of people having faith in Jesus as God's Christ to help bolster our own faith. Still, if we are honest, we admit that we, too, live with certain tensions and contradictions. Here, right down there on our communion table, are chunks of bread and shot glasses of wine. Somehow we are supposed to see Jesus in those mundane elements. More than that, we are supposed to see our Savior chopped up and spilled out in those elements. The broken bread and the poured out wine have just one purpose, liturgically: they are to remind us that Jesus died.
He was not impervious to pain and immune to death. This Jesus Whom we adore was human. He could be hurt and He was. He could be killed and He was. He died. Period. End of story, according to many people, but not according to us! We believe the preposterous notion that this quixotic carpenter's son who whiled away His life in the backwaters of the Roman Empire was not merely significant but was the very Son of God. We think that somehow, some way, in and through all the surprising and confusing things He both said and did, Jesus was bringing in the Kingdom of God.
We're not in prison. We're not John the Baptist whose images and ideas of God's Christ got altered by the actual Messiah who showed up. But our faith, like John's faith, still has to live with the contradictions. We still live with a measure of creative tension. Jesus did not rebuke John for his doubt, and that maybe is comforting. C.S. Lewis once said, surely there are times in all of our lives when the whole Christian story seems outrageous! Can it really be that the very Son of God lived, died, and rose again on the surface of this tired old planet Earth!? And if so, can it really be the case that some 2,000 years later people argue about whether or not it ever happened?! If God Himself once walked around on this earth, shouldn't that be blazingly obvious?
How can it be that anyone could miss what Christians claim is the galaxy's single most important event: the resurrection of Jesus from the dead!? To this day if you tell a devout Jew that Jesus is everyone's true Messiah and King, the Jew will likely ask you, "If Messiah has come, where His kingdom is? Why don't things look a lot better than they do?" If we're honest, we admit that we feel the sting of that question in a way similar to how John's question must have stung Jesus that day.
But then the world always wants to see more. At the end of today's passage Jesus compares the world to stubborn children who insist that everyone play only their games according to their rules. We've all seen such bossy kids on the playground; they alone want to call the shots for whatever game they have dictated everyone play. So also, Jesus says, are the people in this world who want to tell God to play according to their rules, to dance to their tunes, to display power according to their definitions of what constitutes power. But you can't win with people like that, Jesus says. John lived an austere life and the world called him nuts. Jesus lived an exuberant life and the world called him a playboy.
You can't win with those folks; you can't let them dictate what your faith should look like. So like John the Baptist, we are called to faith in the gospel. Maybe it doesn't all add up according to the world's way of doing spiritual arithmetic. Maybe we ourselves see the apparent contradictions between the Jesus who we believe rules the world and a world which is still so shot-through with pain and difficulty. So all we can do is pray for God to strengthen our faith. Through our encounter with these sacred elements at the Lord's Table, and through the paradox of a crucified God to which the bread and wine direct us, through this sacrament we try to see with clarity once again the truth of what the disciples saw and heard. Because today, as 2,000 years ago, Jesus is either the stepping stone to life abundant or a clumsy, scandalous stone you trip and fall over.
Blessed are they who watch their step as they enter life abundant through Jesus, who, some appearances to the contrary, really and truly is the Christ of God. Amen.
May the Lord’s blessing rest upon the reading of His word.
The subject we are discussing is “John’s Doubts About Jesus’ Messiah ship.” In one of his books, Donald Gray Barnhouse wrote, “Any writer discussing the life of George Washington would have to consider the great difference animating all his actions from the moment he cast his lot with the Revolution. This transition period took him out of the role of private citizen and placed him the spotlight of the most publicized position in the country. It is just as possible to retrace the history in the recorded life of the Lord Jesus Christ, which changed His ministry from that of the national Messiah, presenting His claims only to Israel, to that of the world Savior, offering heaven to each individual of the race, willing to accept Him as sacrificial substitute.”
There are a few infelicitous expressions in that quotation from Dr. Barnhouse’s book, but essentially what he said is true. We do notice in the Gospel of Matthew, that in the earliest stages of this ministry, the Lord Jesus Himself went only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and as we read in the 10th chapter of our study, He sent the Twelve only to the house of Israel, urging them to command of them not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans.
But then, when the book concludes, we have commissioning the disciples and the apostles to give the gospel to all of the Gentiles in the world, so there is a transition and a transformation in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, and one can discern that change of mood in this 11th chapter, a part of which we want to study now.
In almost any kind of endeavor that is true, and when one studies, even, the Civil War, there was a great transition in the fortunes of the South when Stonewall Jackson was murdered or slain by his own men in accident. The fortunes of the South began to change after that event.
Some people claim that what was really happening was that it was decreed, according to the decretive will of God that the North should win in the War Between the States. But Stonewall Jackson had become such a problem for the decretive will of God that it was necessary to call a committee meeting in heaven to do something about Stonewall, and so they determined that he should be killed accidentally by one of his own men in order that the decretive will of God might be accomplished. [Laughter] Now that is not in the Bible, for sure [more laughter], but it is true that when we study the history of the War Between the States, one of the transitional points was the death of Stonewall Jackson.
Likewise, the 11th chapter is a pivotal chapter in the Gospel of Matthew, and it is here that we see it is evident that the Lord Jesus is not going to be received in His ministry by that generation to whom God had sent Him. In just a few paragraphs, He will speak to the multitudes in parables. He will no longer speak to them directly, but He will speak to them in veiled speech.
And as Matthew puts it in chapter 13 verse 10 through verse 13, “And the disciples came and said unto Him, ‘Why speakest thou unto them in parables?’ He answered and said unto them, ‘Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to Him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. But whosever hath not, from Him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables, because they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.’” And He goes on to speak about as a result of their refusal to hear the message concerning the Lord Jesus, God has found it necessary to deal with that generation in retributive judgment, and blindness has begun to set in.
So in the 11th chapter we will notice, as we go through, that this transitional period is upon us in the study of the Gospel of Matthew. Of course, there are also important practical lessons that are set forth in this section, and some attention we want to give to them, not the least of which is the example of the possibility of wavering faith in the strongest of believers.
Sometimes Christians obtain the idea that a strong believer in the Lord Jesus Christ never has any doubts. But that is not true to Christian experience, and it is really not true to the word of God. If you turn to the Old Testament and read the Psalms, for example, you’ll discover that even in the same Psalm, the Psalmist often expresses great confidence in God, and then in the next verse or two, he is expressing in the words that he utters that his own faith has begun to waver and fluctuate, so that it is entirely possible and really true to our experience for us to have a fluctuation in our trust in God.
The firmest faith may at one time falter, and of course by God’s grace, even in our most convinced moods, we need to call upon Him to hold us that we cleave to Him in faith. So there is a great practical lesson in John’s response to the ministry of the Lord Jesus in prison.
You know the circumstances of John’s imprisonment. More details will be given us later in the book. But Herod Antipas, who was ruler in Galilee, had taken a trip to Rome. And while in Rome, he had seduced the wife of his brother. And as a result of this seduction, he had put away his wife in the land, and then had married the woman that he had seduced.
John, the ambassador of the Lord Jesus, was not a man to rebuke only privately. And so he publicly rebuked Herod for the sin that he had done. Now, it is not safe to rebuke an Eastern despot. It is not even safe to rebuke some of the village despots of our day. But it was not safe in those days to rebuke an Eastern despot, and as a result, John was thrown into prison, actually into a dungeon at Maquiras. And there, John in the prison became troubled about the progress of the ministry of the word through the Lord Jesus.
And so, beginning to wonder about the force of the ministry of the Lord Jesus, the One, incidentally, whom he had called, earlier, “The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” of whom had testified that he had seen the Holy Spirit coming as a dove and alighting upon Him, the one of whom that he had great confidence that He was the Messiah earlier, John sent two of his disciples to the Lord Jesus to ask Him a question. The question that he asked, through his disciples, the Lord Jesus was, “Art thou He that should come or do we look for another?”
This question is a very interesting question, and without any lengthy explanation, we can say without any doubt at all that it was the question that meant, simply, “Are you the Messiah?” The term, “the coming one,” was a term that was used both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and used in the language of the people of that time for the Messianic king who would come, so when he said, art thou He that should come, or do we look for another, he meant, “Are You the promised Messiah that we have read about in the Scriptures?”
There are three explanations that have been given of John’s question. Some have claimed that John asked the question for the sake of the disciples and not really for himself, that John’s faith didn’t waver. His faith didn’t fluctuate. How can the faith of the ambassador of the king fluctuate, the man of whom the Lord Jesus would say in a moment, “Among those born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist”? But when the answer comes to the question, the answer to the question comes directly to John and not to the disciples. So we would gather from this that John did not ask this question for the benefit of the disciples. He asked it for his own benefit.
Others have said, well, John asked out of a failing patience, not from a failing faith. John knew that the Lord Jesus was to come and ultimately set up a kingdom upon the earth. And in setting up the kingdom upon the earth, it would be necessary for Him to exhibit a show of Messianic power. And by this Messianic power which He would exhibit, He would put down the nations and exalt Israel to the headship over the nations, and bring in the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
But everything seemed to be going along very slowly, and so John, losing patience with the speed of the Messianic ministry of the Lord Jesus, decided that he would call upon the Lord to show his hand. And so, he sends two messengers to ask, are you the One who is to come or do we look for someone else, hoping that He would, as a result of this, make a show of power and demonstrate that He really was the Messianic king and go on about His task of bringing in that kingdom.
Again, the passage is not really in harmony with that interpretation. And we may be inclined to believe that the great numbers of the students of Matthew who believe that John’s faith did fail are right.
If we remember where he was, we can understand this. John had come saying that he was the ambassador of the king, that he was not even worthy to hold the shoelaces of the king who was to come, that he would baptize with water, but the king would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He had been at the baptism of the Lord Jesus, and he had recognized His deity. He had said, “I should not be baptizing You; You should be baptizing me.” He had spoken of Him as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world, and specifically he had said You will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
He knew that there would be two aspects to the ministry of the Lord Jesus. There would be an aspect of judgment, and there would be an aspect of mercy, with the Holy Spirit and with fire. But due to the course of events, he became disturbed, because, after all, if the king is to come and establish His kingdom, showing His power, His mighty power within it, why should His forerunner be in prison? Why should everything seem to be going wrong? And so as he reflected upon his own condition, and it’s never a happy condition to be in prison.
We can understand how John, in the course of being in prison, looking at the course of the Messianic ministry, seeing no real manifestation of the power of the Messiah, should become disturbed and begun to ask questions arising from his inner man: is it really true that He’s the Messiah after all? I really thought so. I said, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh the sin of the world.” I seemed to preach with power, and many people did come to be baptized. But, I do not hear of Him assuming the throne. Perhaps I’m wrong.
Was Jesus really the Messiah? And so he sent in order to find out for certain out of a fluctuating faith. Now this is very important for us in a practical way. It is sometimes thought by believers that when we come to believe in Jesus Christ, to have any kind of wavering of faith is totally unnatural to the Christian faith. That is not true.
That does not suggest, of course, that we should look for ways in which our faith might fluctuate and waiver. But nevertheless it is true that in the Christian experience, because we are men, because we possess a nature that is an old, sinful nature, it is only natural to expect that at times our faith would fail. And perhaps it is much wiser of commentators, instead of trying to save John’s credit at the cost of straining the narrative, to recognize the psychological truths of the plain story of his wavering conviction and learn its lesson of self-distrust.
In the final analysis, there is only one man who ever lived who never flagged in faith, and that was the Lord Jesus Himself. He never had any self-doubts. He never had any questions about who He was or what He was to do. But He was the sinless Son of God.
Now in John’s case, it was different. John’s question does arise from perplexity produced by wavering faith. The response of the Lord Jesus is very direct. I want you to go back to John, and I want you to say to John, and say to him, these are the things that the Messiah is doing. Show John the things which you hear and see. The blind are receiving their sight. The lame are walking. The lepers are being cleansed. The deaf are hearing. The dead are being raised from the dead, and then, surprisingly, the climactic evidence of the Messianic work, the poor are having the gospel preached to them.
The things that the Messiah was to do, encompass these very points. And the words that are given in answer to the two disciples from John are the words taken from the Old Testament Scriptures, specifically the Book of Isaiah chapter 29 and chapter 35. The Lord Jesus just reaches back into the Bible itself, and takes these passages out of the Bible using the very phraseology of the word of God, and says; go tell John that these things are happening. Because He knew that John was a student of the word of God and would reflect upon the prophecy of Isaiah, and if these things were taking place that was the best answer to the question, are you the coming one or do we look for someone else?
The most amazing fact is perhaps that last statement, “the poor have the gospel preached to them,” was something that was rather unique. Today, of course, we think of that as one of the characteristics of the ministry of the word of God. Our message is for all people, and it is for the poor. We are thinking from the standpoint of 1900 years of Christian activity. We should never forget that when the Lord Jesus said this, it was not at all a common thing for the gospel to be preached to the poor. As a matter of fact, the preaching of the gospel specifically to the poor was unknown in Judaism. And so this statement is a remarkable statement that our Lord gives in response to the question.
And their works are arranged in the order of their might by pairs, and the greatest work is evidently this preaching of the gospel to the poor. And then He addresses directly to John, for the “he” of verse 6 is singular. “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” John, take a look at My ministry, and take a look at the things that are happening, and then answer your own question by comparing what the Scriptures say and what I am doing, and blessed is the man who, when he looks at Me and sees My ministry does not stumble over the fact that I am not doing what you might expect at the moment: bring in the kingdom with an outward show of power.
Now then, what shall we say about John? What’s the matter with John? John has an incomplete view of the truth. He lived before the time of the cross. He lived before the writing of the rest of the New Testament, and so he did not know one simple truth that everyone in this auditorium who has ever read the New Testament knows, and it’s this: that there are two comings of the Messiah; a first coming in which He comes and carries out His saving work in ministry and shedding His blood on the cross; and a second coming separated from that first coming now by 1900-plus years at which He will execute judgment upon the earth and establish His kingdom. These two aspects of the Lord Jesus were not known to John yet, because history had not unfolded the full significance of those passages in the Old Testament. They read the passages in the Old Testament, and they said the Messiah would suffer and the Messiah would experience glories. But they were not clearly told that there was a lengthy period of time between them. And so they tended to look off to them, as Crisistum said hundreds of years ago, “As a mountain range, and thus saw the peaks of the mercy ministry and the judgment ministry, but did not see the valleys between the peaks.”
And so that was John’s difficulty. He had to learn that atonement is a prerequisite to reigning as king, that the shedding of blood is necessary before the Lord Jesus can come back and execute judgment upon the earth. The king must come to His throne through the blood of the cross, and the proper sequence is always redemption by blood and then redemption by power.
It’s beautifully illustrated in the Passover. When the children of Israel were in Egypt, they were told by Moses, who got his word from God, there was going to be a great judgment, and the firstborn of every family would be lost, destroyed by a destroying angel if they did not place blood on the top of the doorposts and the two sides. And so the children of Israel slew the lamb and placed blood on the doorposts, and when the destroying angel came through, God said, if you put blood, I will hover over that door, that’s the meaning of that Hebrew word, I will hover over it so that when the destroying angel comes through, the destroying angel will not be able to enter into the home that has the blood on the doorpost, because the firstborn is kept by the power of God.
Now, the destroying angel came, and as a result the children of Israel were saved from judgment, but the Egyptians lost their firstborn sons, and there was a great cry in the land and a cry of judgment. Then the children of Israel were led out to the Red Sea, and God, in a mighty work of power, parted the Red Sea and the children of Israel were delivered from Pharoah and his hosts, and went on in to the wilderness land thereafter.
They were saved by blood and by power. And it is only first the blood, for the blood signifies the bearing of the penalty and guilt and judgment of sin, and then the mighty power of God is able to work on the basis of the blood that was shed. So John needed to reflect again on the fact that redemption is by blood, and then by power.
This truth is very important, and needs some emphasis today, because there are some people who preach that when the Lord Jesus came, He offered a kingdom to the Nation Israel apart from the blood of the cross. They somehow or other have read the New Testament as if to preach that this could be possible that a kingdom should be offered to the Nation Israel apart from the cross. That is impossible.
Then there are those who believe that there is not going to be any earthly kingdom at all, that He came simply to die on a cross, and that’s all. And we believe the truth lies between these two extremes. The Lord Jesus came to offer a kingdom through a cross, a kingdom through suffering. It is an earthly kingdom that He offers, but it is an earthly kingdom that He offers through the shedding of the precious blood. Not a kingdom apart from a cross, or a cross apart from an earthly kingdom, but an earthy kingdom through the cross. And that is the force of the ministry, and that, of course, is what John the Baptist has not yet fully grasped.
The second movement of the four movements of this passage follows in the next few verses, beginning at the 7th verse. As the crowds begin to depart, the Lord Jesus began to say the multitudes; He spoke to them in interrogations, asking them a few questions. He said, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? (Did you go out to see) a reed shaken with the wind?” Now, a reed shaken with the wind, characteristic of the weed, is that it does not have its position, ever. It is this way, this way, this way, it was a figure of speech designed to suggest vacillation. Did you expect, when you went to hear John the Baptist preaches, that you would hear a vacillator? If there was one thing that was characteristic of John the Baptist, it was that he told it like it is. There are very few men who really tell it like it is, and John the Baptist is one of those few men. He told it like it is.
John the Baptist was not an individual who was a vacillator. He always spoke as if he had a message from God, and he spoke with authority, and he really did tell it as it is. The Lord Jesus then asks, “But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment?” No, John the Baptist was not dressed in clothes that were fashioned. He was the kind of man who went out and wore the strangest kind of garments, and ate the strangest kinds of food: locusts and wild honey. What a strange fare John the Baptist had.
“They that wear (fine clothing or) soft clothing are in kings' houses,” the Lord Jesus points out. “But what went ye out to see? A prophet? Yes, a prophet; and I tell you this, that John the Baptist was more than a prophet.” There is something characteristic about John the Baptist that should be characteristic of all preachers, and that is that there is no suspicion whatsoever about the thrust of the ministry of John the Baptist. It was a ministry in which faithfulness to God and His word were paramount, and it seems that is something that we today really lack in the ministry of the word of God.
Now, the Lord Jesus has something to say about John, and He goes on to say, “More than a prophet, for this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare thy way before Thee.” In other words, John the Baptist is a prophet and furthermore, he is one prophesied in the Old Testament. In Malachi chapter 3 and verse 1 is the text that the Lord Jesus cites, and there is an interesting change in the text. And it illustrates again the remarkable claims that the Lord Jesus was making.
For in the Malachi text, the reference is to Yahweh Himself. And He says He is going to send His messenger before His face. The Lord Jesus looks at that passage, says it is of John the Baptist, for he is the messenger, and that he is to be sent before Thy face, applying that to Himself. He changes the “my” to “thy,” making the reference to the Messianic king, Yahweh the second person of the Trinity. In other words, He looks at the passage in the Old Testament that has to do with the Lord of Hosts and says, the Lord of Hosts is I. An amazing thing, an amazing claim. John the Baptist has been sent to go before the face of Jehovah of Hosts, I AM Jehovah of Hosts. It’s one of those very explicit claims that He is completely deity.
Now there is another important thing. The Lord Jesus goes on to say about John, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” Now, you can see the Lord Jesus has another standard of greatness entirely from the standard that we use to judge greatness. What would you say if I you were asked, who is the greatest man of the 20th Century? What would you say?
Perhaps you would say, I think Winston Churchill was the greatest man of the 20th Century. A lot of people would think Mr. Churchill was, especially those of us that remember the days of World War II and the leadership that he provided. There would even be some who would say Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the greatest man of the 20th Century. There would be some who would think that Dwight Eisenhower was the greatest man of the 20th Century. And then others may speak of men in different spheres of life, and some might even speak of some women in their spheres of life.
But isn’t it interesting that when the Lord Jesus speaks of greatness here, He doesn’t say anything about the world leaders of the day. He doesn’t say, John is greater than anybody but Caesar, and after all, there were some great men in the days of our Lord. But He states that John the Baptist is the greatest man born of women. What was John the Baptist? Why, he was a man who grew up out in the deserts of Judea. He had these strange clothes and he had this strange diet, and he went around telling people that they ought to repent. He preached about their sin, and he told them that the kingdom of the heavens was at hand. That was essentially his ministry. He was very faithful to it. Crowds flocked out to hear him.
But greatness? How can you call that greatness in comparison with Augustus Caesar, or some of the other great men of that time, much less down through the centuries? Why would the word place John the Baptist on the list of the great men of the last twenty or thirty centuries? John wouldn’t even appear on the lists of most men.
But from our Lord Jesus, He has a different standard of greatness, and evidently the different standard of greatness with the Lord Jesus is the relationship of a person to God, or to the will of God, or to the Lord Jesus Himself. And of all the men born of women, John the Baptist stands at the top of the scale. Now, then, that if that is true, then a true evaluation of the great men of the 20th Century would begin with men who are the preachers of the word of God, and theologians of the grace of God.
This lets us know that there are different standards of greatness. And it is much better to be in tune with the standard of greatness of the Lord Jesus than with other standards of the world.
What is meant by the words, “Notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”? How strange to say that John the Baptist is the greatest of men and then say that everybody else in the kingdom is greater than John. We might look at it, and our first thought might be, well, perhaps He’s saying that John wasn’t even a Christian. John wasn’t even saved. He’s the greatest among men born of women, but everybody born again into the kingdom is greater than John. Of course, if John were not saved in the sight of God, that would be true. But who could ever contend from the word of God that John the Baptist was not one of the dearest men of God. So that couldn’t be the meaning.
Perhaps it means that the littlest person in the kingdom is greater that John in the sense that he has greater privileges than John. That is, he understands things that John did not understand. Well, there may be some truth in that. As, we understand some things that John did not understand, but we must confess as we look out over the saints of God, there are a lot of things John the Baptist understood that the saints of God don’t understand yet today.
John has a deeper sense of human sin than we have, and that he knew a great deal more about what it was to walk closely with the Lord than we do. And so to suggest that we have greater privileges or understand more than John, well that seems to be a very unworthy interpretation of these words, and that is the interpretation that has been put upon it by some men.
We may be more inclined to think that what is meant is that the position of John, before the time of the cross and before the institution of the kingdom of God, that John’s position is less than that of the position of the simplest believer who is in the kingdom of the heavens. There is going to come a kingdom of God upon the earth, and compared with the position of John outside the kingdom at that time with the position of the person who is in the kingdom, the state or position or that man is greater than John the Baptist. And every man who has believed upon the Lord Jesus and who eventually reaches the kingdom of God will be in a situation or in a position that is greater than John the Baptist’s position at the time this was spoken.
Now John’s going to be in that kingdom, too. And of course, this is not meant to be a denigration of John, as John is going to be as great as we, but He is speaking about John, then, so that the believer in the future, in the kingdom, is greater than John at that time. Perhaps that is what He has in mind.
And the Lord Jesus, in the 12thverse, goes on to say, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Three interpretations have been suggested of it. The great mass of the commentators think that what is meant here is simply that the Lord Jesus is referring to the fact that the Jewish rulers at this time were seeking to take the kingdom by violence and make it conform to their ideas of the kingdom.
The evidence of that is that John was thrown into prison at that time, and the Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry had been rejected. “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” John was a change in direction. Until that time the prophets of the Old Testament had said the kingdom is coming. But John, when he came on the scene, he was authorized by God to say the kingdom is at hand, not just coming, but at hand. And so John’s ministry made a definite change in the program of God. When the ambassador of the king came, things began to differ.
And He goes on to say in the 14th verse, “And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah which was for to come.” The Scriptures tell us that Elijah is going to come again before the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus. Isn’t that a strange thing?
The Jewish people believe this because it’s found in Malachi chapter 4, the prophecy of Elijah coming again. And so every time the Passover is celebrated properly among the Jews, there is a vacant chair in the Passover service. And that chair that is vacant, if you ask a Jew about it, why he’ll say that chair is for Elijah who will come again before the Messiah’s time. So they believe that because it was taught in Scripture.
Now John, it is said, came in the spirit and power of Elijah. He was not Elijah, but he came in the spirit and power of Elijah. He came with a message about the kingdom, and he called on Israel to repent. And the Lord Jesus is saying if you will receive it, this is Elijah who was for to come. If the nation, humanly speaking, had responded, then it would it not be necessary for Elijah to come because the kingdom would come following the cross and the tribulation period.
In other words, there is a kind of contingent character about the kingdom of God; contingent, not in the sense that the fact of the kingdom’s coming is contingent, but the time of its coming. Since Israel was disobedient, the kingdom now has been put off, and Gentiles have been grafted into the olive tree, and we have been invited to come partake of salvation as the result of the disobedience of that generation upon the earth at the time the Lord was speaking.
Finally, the Lord then begins to ask what this generation is like. “Whereunto shall I liken this generation?” And he likens them to a group of children who are playing charades.
Now that’s what our Lord is speaking about here when He says, “It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.” It’s like little children who say, let’s play like at weddings, and I’ll be the groom and you be the wife, and you be the preacher, and so on. And then there were two or three others who said, no, we don’t want to play that. We don’t like to play those happy games.
That’s what He’s saying: You’re just like that! John the Baptist came, and he came with a solemn message of repentance, calling upon you to be sorry for your sin, to recognize that you have sinned against God, to turn from you sin. He called for repentance, and you said, “He’s got a demon.”
And so the Lord Jesus comes, and He comes with an entirely different kind of message. His message appears to be a message of sociability and joy and happiness and grace. But instead of that, you refused that. So you object to John and you object to Jesus. Your trouble is, your hearts are wrong. And He adds, “Wisdom is justified of her children.” The fact that the messages of John and Jesus were correct is shown by the results. John had a fruitful ministry, and of course, our Lord has, too.
Now it’s about time to stop. Will you notice that word that they used to describe the Lord Jesus? “The Son of man came eating and drinking and they say, “Behold, a man gluttonous and a winebibber; a friend of publicans and of sinners.” Now, remember that’s their witness to the Lord Jesus. It’s not His witness to Himself; it’s their witness to Him. It’s what they said about the Lord. They said that He was a friend of publicans and sinners.
What does that mean? Well it means that they regarded Him, evidently, as an individual who was a friend of sinful men. They saw in Him a revelation of the love of God for men, and it’s their own testimony to it. There was no softening of his attitudes toward sin. He was just as stringent in His evaluation of sin as John the Baptist. But they saw the Lord Jesus as a man who loved sinners and as a representative of God who loves sinners.
And it also suggests that He had hope for the hopeless. He was a friend of the publicans and sinners, the elect may even be found among them. And finally, it says that gross sin does not exclude anyone from the blessing of God. He’s a friend of publicans and sinners. But at the same time it also indicates that if we do not understand our sin, that is the one thing that prevents us from entering in and experiencing the salvation of Jesus Christ.
And so, if you have never believed in the Lord Jesus, there is a call for you today. By the grace of God, if you have been brought to knowledge of your sin, then you’re a candidate for the salvation of God through Christ. May God the Holy Spirit speak to your heart. These are very solemn words that are found in the word of God, and we hope you will treat them as the solemn words that they are. Let’s stand for the benediction.
Prayer: Father, we are grateful to Thee for the ministry of Thy word. And we are thankful for the ministry of John the Baptist. We praise Thee for the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through whom salvation is offered to men. We thank Thee that He is the Passover lamb whose blood has inaugurated a New Covenant, by which we have forgiveness of sins.
And Father, for those who are in our audience who have never responded to Him, give them no rest until they do. May the Holy Spirit reveal to them very plainly the condition of their hearts, and may they receive the free gift of everlasting life. May grace, mercy and peace go with us. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Matthew 11:1-19 John the Baptist Questions Jesus
While Disciples are on Their Preaching Tour and Jesus Does the Same:
· The twelve Disciples departed two by two on their ministry tour as Jesus had commanded them. [Matthew 10:1-42]
· While they are gone, Jesus does His own preaching tour through the cities of Galilee. [Matthew 11:1]
John the Baptist questions Jesus:
· When John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another? [Matthew 11:2-3, Luke 7:18-20]
· It is easy to understand why John would ask this question of Jesus.
· Before being imprisoned, John had introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. [John 1:29-30]
· John had identified Jesus as the Son of God and gave His compelling evidence to confirm it. [John 1:31-34]
· John had said, “He must increase, but I must decrease. [John 3:30]
· John knew the Scripture that spoke of Jesus, saying: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; [Isaiah 61:1]
· John expected Jesus to set him free from prison.
· Because of His faithfulness in ministry, and the fact that they were close relatives, it is natural for John to expect to receive a position of honor in the Kingdom Jesus would bring to the world.
· John had been a faithful servant of God in all his ministry, and now he is sitting in prison awaiting his death, so he sent his disciples to Jesus with the question: Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another? [Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:20]
Answer to John The Baptist:
· Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." [Matthew 11:4-6, Luke 7:21-23]
· In other words, Jesus is saying, John is a true man of God and he will understand. Just give him the evidence.
· John’s disciples returned to John with this answer.
Jesus identifies John the Baptist as Elijah [Matthew 11:7-14, Luke 7:24-28]:
· John would have loved to hear the words Jesus spoke about him to the multitude.
· John was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the messenger who would go ahead of Yehowah to prepare the way for His ministry. [Isaiah 40:3, Luke 1:17, 76]
· John was the greatest of the prophets that had come to Israel. [Matthew 11:11]
· And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. [Luke 7:29]
· But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him. [Luke 7:30]
· To be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, is of much greater importance, than to be a prophet of whatever greatness. [Matthew 11:11]
· From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. [Matthew 11:12, Luke 16:16]
· Jesus is stating that from the beginning of the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven which was the message of John the Baptist, there has been violent opposition to the doctrine from the religious and political leaders.
· The evidence of this truth is seen by the opposition from the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Lawyers, Sanhedrin, Priests, and the Herodians.
· Even at the time these words were spoken, Herod has John locked in prison because of the message John had spoken against him because of his marriage to Herodias. [Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 6:17-29, Luke 3:19-20]
· The violent did indeed oppose the Gospel of the Kingdom to the point that they crucified Jesus, imprisoned and killed all the Apostles along with all Christians they could catch.
· Saul was one who did his utmost to destroy Christianity by force before Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus and his name was changed to Paul the Apostle. [Acts 8:3, 9:1-22]
· All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. [Matthew 11:13]
· The books of Moses (the first 5 books of the Bible) and all the prophets, foretold the time of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven.
· Until the coming of John the Baptist, the message of the mystery of the Kingdom of God had been kept hidden. [Matthew 11:12-13, Luke 16:16, 1 Corinthians 2:6-10, Ephesians 3:8-12, Colossians 1:24-27]
· An enormous amount of information pertaining to the Kingdom of God was revealed in the law and the prophets, but it was concealed in the messages and not plainly discernable until John brought it out specifically.
· John was the first to introduce the Kingdom of God to Israel as he began his ministry saying, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." [Matthew 3:1-2]
· Jesus continued the theme with the exact same words. [Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15]
· Then Jesus clearly stated for anyone who would be able to accept the revelation, that John was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the coming of Elijah: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." [Malachi 4:5-6]
· He who has ears to hear, let him hear! [Matthew 11:15]
· Not everyone is able or willing to accept the truth revealed. [Matthew 11:14]
· That remained the statement throughout the Church age, and the book of Revelation. [Matthew 11:15, 13:9-17, 43, Mark 4:9, 23, 7:16, 8:18, Luke 8:8, 14:35, Acts 28:27, Romans 11:8, Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22, 13:9]
· That ability comes only as a gift from God. [Deuteronomy 29:4, Isaiah 6:10, Jeremiah 5:21, Ezekiel 12:1-2]
This Generation Like Children Playing [Matthew 11:16-17, Luke 7:31-35]:
· This generation is like children playing, wanting to be the leaders, and angry because everyone does not follow them.
· It was out of envy that the religious and political leaders killed Jesus, the Apostles, and the believers. [Matthew 27:18, Mark 15:10, Acts 13:45, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, James 3:16]
· Jesus and John called them hypocrites (pretenders). [Matthew 15:1-9, 16:1-4, 22:15-22, 23:13-36, Mark 7:1-7, 12:13-17, Luke 11:42-54, 12:1, 54-55, 13:14-16]
Evidence of their Hypocrisy: [Matthew 11:18-19]:
· For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'
· The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'
But wisdom is justified by her children." [Matthew 11:19]:
· Evidence for discernment, is in the lives of those who present themselves as leaders.
· You will know them by their fruits. [Matthew 7:15-20, 12:33-34, Luke 6:43-
He wants them to conceive in their heart the truth about his teaching rather than telling them who he really was. He wants all his teachings to transform the listeners, the miracles to be a sign of his true nature.
One has to believe and establish your own faith in God. As we look around us, it is easy to see what God has provided for us. We believe in Him because we see what He has done.
John was a great teacher of God's word and was blessed from conception. Jesus knew the strength of John and that His faith would endure even without saying He was the Christ. Knowing the works of Jesus was all He needed to know that He was the other chosen one by God to be on the Earth to teach his way of life.
Because people mostly trust on the evidences and miracles so he made him learnt through his faithful ways...he's an amazing teacher who teaches wisely all the scriptures of lord!!!
Jesus wants rule out the result of Gods Ministry because John was a highly respected priest and messenger of God that was blessed with great wisdom
Jesus never forces knowledge on us ... He gives us evidences to draw our own conclusions
Jesus pointed out the results of his ministries to prove that with the miracles that are happening, John will know it is from God. That Jesus is the one and only son of God, whom he sends to save us from sins.
Often times, we come up short because we have hard times believing in things at face value or without any evidence or justification. I suspect JESUS stated all of the facts so by the good deeds that were done were to give testimony that 1) these deeds were in fact done 2) they were done by the one who was sent by the FATHER and 3) these deeds serve as inspiration to us all to be kind and to help those who are less fortunate or are in need.
Because his ministry speaks for itself, the signs and wonders that Jesus performed should be enough for the people to believe.
He points to his works so that you have to judge Him by the work he does and solely by his words. His Action speaks louder than words. Jesus indirectly tells them judge me by my work if you don't believe what I am saying
Jesus needed to point out the results of his ministry because we as humans, more often than not, need to see to believe. Blessed are those that believe and not see.
Because the results of His ministry rather than an open declaration should prove more whether He was the CHrist or not. Also this is an example to us that how we live and our ministry should portray to others that we are Christians rather than our declaring it.
That’s because Jesus was clearly vindicating His messiah ship to John, who might have begun to question why Jesus had left him in prison. Though John was a great believer, he doubted Jesus. People believed that John possessed demon, therefore they began rejecting his ministry. However Jesus' work among sinners proved that John was not a gluttonous man or a drunkard as they thought.
Seeing is believing. I think Jesus pointed out things to show how he was truly living and preaching. It's not what you say it's what you do.
Jesus was showing John who He is by actions instead of words. Blessings.
JESUS knows that no man can do what he has done except GOD is with him. So he need not answer directly because his works has said it all...
Why did Jesus point out the results of his ministry rather than just saying yes or no to John`s question about whether He was the Christ? It's because He wants to know whether the disciples truly understood what they had seen - His miraculous works - that indeed, action is louder than words!
By hearing these words, Jesus knew that John would believe.
Jesus wanted John to think about the things he has seen and make the decision on his own rather than to answer with a yes or no.
John would not have understood it being so simple of an answer. John needed more than a yes or no answer and Jesus knew this by knowing what was in John's heart.
Jesus did not answer directly because He knew that people would say something negative of whichever one He answered. He knew His believers would know the answer. Blessings.
Jesus pointed out the results of His ministry rather than just saying yes or no because it was going to be easy for John to understand who He was for the bible says by their works you shall see them, a Christian ministry is better understood when there are results to talk about.
Jesus wanted John to know that one would be known by ones deeds hence Jesus had to point out the results of his ministry rather than saying yes or no for John to draw his own conclusion.By: Gregorio Magdaleno
Category: Jesus and John the Baptist
| Why do only some choose to accept Jesus and others oppose Him and His followers? |
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
He called to Himself His twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. The first, Simon, who is called Peter; Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee ;John, his brother ; Philip ; Bartholomew; Thomas; Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus; Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
Jesus sent these twelve out, and charged them, saying, "Don't go among the Gentiles, and don't enter into any city of the Samaritans. Rather, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, preach, saying, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons. Freely you received, so freely give. Don't take any gold, nor silver, nor brass in your money belts. Take no bag for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food. Into whatever city or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy; and stay there until you go on. As you enter into the household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come on it, but if it isn't worthy, let your peace return to you. Whoever doesn't receive you, nor hear your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust from your feet. Most certainly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city. "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and in their synagogues they will scourge you. Yes, and you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the nations. But when they deliver you up, don't be anxious how or what you will say, for it will be given you in that hour what you will say. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
"Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all men for my name's sake, but he who endures to the end will be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee into the next, for most certainly I tell you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man has come.
"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher, and the servant like his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household! Therefore don't be afraid of them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed; and hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in the ear, proclaim on the housetops. Don't be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
"Aren't two sparrows sold for an assarion coin? Not one of them falls on the ground apart from your Father's will, but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore don't be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows. Everyone therefore who confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
"Don't think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn't come to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me isn't worthy of Me. He who doesn't take his cross and follow after Me, isn't worthy of Me. He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward: and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. Whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple; verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
Why do only some choose to accept Jesus and others oppose Him and His followers?
Jesus' charge to the Missionaries. 10:1-42.
I. The appointment of the twelve apostles. 10:1-4.
A. The Selection.
This is Matthew's first reference to Jesus' "Twelve Disciples" (though there are earlier references to "Disciples"). Jesus chooses them from a larger number (cf. Lk 6:13). That the four fishermen and Matthew came to be numbered among the Twelve, helps to explain his record of their calls (4:18-22; 9:9). In choosing 12 apostles, corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel, Jesus signals that He has come to reconstitute Israel around His person (cf. 16:18). Note that He chooses 12 and not 11. While He will remain with believers (28:20), He is not one of their number; He misses not a fellow-believer but the Lord of the church (23:8-10).
B. The Groupings.
The 12 are listed as six pairs (note the kais in the Greek text), corresponding to Jesus' sending them out "two by two" (Mk 6:7). When the 12 are divided into three groups of four each, the same name appears first in each group in all three Gospels. That Peter, James and John came to comprise "the inner three" (cf. e.g.-17:1), explains their being in the first group (Andrew is added as Peter's brother).
The Synoptists' pairing makes it most unlikely that "Levi son of Alphaeus" (Matthew's name in Mk 2:14) is the brother of "James son of Alphaeus" (Mt 10:3 & pars.); for whereas Simon and Andrew are paired, as are the sons of Zebedee, Matthew is linked with Thomas. (Nor are Levi and James so connected anywhere else in the NT.) The grouping of Philip and Bartholomew in the Synoptic, and of Philip and Nathanael in Jn, supports the suggestion that Bartholomew ("bar Talmai") is Nathanael.
C. Certain Names.
1. Simon. His being the "first" and his being surnamed "Peter," are explained in 16:13-20.2
2. Matthew. Only in the list of Mt 10 is he called "the tax collector."
This is not to distinguish him from other Matthews (there is no other "Matthew" in the NT; "Matthias" in Acts 1 is spelled differently), but rather as Matthew's self-designation, highlights the kind of life out of which Jesus called him (9:9-13).
3. Simon the Zealot. The Greek kananaios (behind "zealot") is a transliteration rooted in the Hebrew/Aramaic verb qana, "to be jealous, zealous" (cf. Lk 6:15). This identifies Simon either as one zealous for the Law or, much more likely, as a member of the Zealot party (Gundry, 183). In the latter case, his association with "Matthew the tax collector" witnesses to the remarkable breadth of Jesus' choice.
4. Judas Iscariot. "Iscariot" is probably a place name (Kerioth). His name is placed last in each list, for the reason given by all Synoptists.
D. The Commission.
Here alone does Matthew speak of twelve apostles (vv. 1-2). Quite appropriately so, for Jesus here authorizes the disciples (v. 1) to go forth (v. 5, apostell) as extensions of His own ministry.
II. The immediate mission. 10:5-15.
A. Introduction: Verses 5-15 relate to missionary activity that immediately awaits the apostles; but 10:16-42 embrace their and other Christians' missionary activity beyond the present period.
1. The Synoptic parallels: Mt 10:5-15 parallels Mk 6:8-11 and Lk 9:2-5.
Both Mk 6:12 and Lk 9:6 record the apostles' departure. Also, Mt 10:16-42 has parallels recorded elsewhere in Mk and Lk, including Lk 12 and the eschatological discourses of Mk 13 and Lk 21.
2. Matthew's method: Matthew presents the material of Jesus' ministry very systematically in the service of catechesis (cf. Introduction).
Corresponding to his method in chapters 5-7 and 8-9, Matthew here joins together various strands of Jesus' teaching related to the apostles' and the church's mission. This does not in principle exclude the possibility that Jesus, already at this stage, looked beyond the immediate future to the larger mission of which the present outreach was the first stage.
B. The Mission Field: Jewry.
The disciples are instructed to avoid Gentiles and Samaritans (10:5). (Here is further evidence of the distinction between 10:5-15 and 10:16-42. V. 18 reflects a situation in which Gentiles too are evangelized.) Instead, they are to go to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (v. 6). As the parallel with Gentiles and Samaritans shows, this phrase means not certain Jews within Israel, but Israel as a whole: the lost sheep are the house of Israel (cf. remarks on 9:12-13). For now, Jesus' and His apostles focus on Jews (the story of 8:5-13 is the exception that proves the rule). The whole of Mt makes it plain that the evangelizing of Jews paves the way for an outreach to Gentiles (28:19).
C. The Message.
Jesus authorizes the Twelve to extend His own ministry (10:40, "He who receives you receives Me"). So they are to preach the nearness of the Kingdom and to accomplish miracles (10:7-8, cf. v. 1). The summary of 11:4-5 embraces the apostles' activity as well as Jesus' (which helps to explain Matthew's placing the mission-charge here, before ch. 11). V. 8b, "Freely you have received, freely give," speaks of the grace of the Kingdom (offered both in Jesus' preaching and in His healing ministry), already experienced by the apostles and now to be imparted through them to other Jews. In view of the second clause of v. 8b, Gundry's idea (185) that the first clause of v. 8b refers to Jesus' granting authority to the apostles, seems questionable.
D. The Journey.
The instructions of v. 9 have the practical value of leaving the apostles unencumbered by excessive weight as they travel. The close of v. 9 ("the worker is worth his keep") appears to have v. 8 ("freely give") in view: behind "keep" is the Greek trophss, "food," "in order to distinguish acceptance of free board in hospitable homes from the prohibited acquisition of money and goods, which misthou might seem to include" (Gundry, 187); cf. the usage of misthos in 20:8; 1 Cor 9:14-18. But the principal reason for the instructions of v. 9 (as its closing words indicate), is that the apostles might depend on others' hospitality.
E. The Reception: the Worthy and the Unworthy. 10:11-15.
1. The worthy: "Worthiness" relates not to a person's existing state or achievement, but to the kind of reception he grants to the bearers of Jesus' message. Whether a home is "deserving" (v. 13), depends on whether the apostles are welcomed and their message heeded (v. 14, from which negative formulation we infer the positive criterion of "worthiness"). The effect of a positive reception of the apostles' message and work, is that they, the authorized representatives of Jesus, may "let their peace" rest on the house (v. 13). This interpretation is confirmed by the judgment on those who reject the message.
2. The unworthy: The "unworthy" are those who reject the apostles and their work: "if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words" (v. 14a, showing the supremacy of preaching over miracles). Shaking the dust off one's feet (v. 14b) signals "a separation that results in deliverance to divine judgment" (Gundry, 190). V. 15, anticipating Jesus' woes on the cities in 11:20-24 (the Greek of 10:15 is very close to that of 11:22, 24), underscores the warning of judgment, and shows that it is especially perilous to reject this, God's ultimate expression of grace (see below on 10:42; 11:20-24; 25:31-46).
Matthew 10:1-42 – The Mission of the twelve
Jesus now formally summons and names the twelve disciples and sends them out in mission with authority to preach the good news of the kingdom and to heal every disease and sickness. He accompanies their disciples' instruction with warnings about the need for endurance and the promise of reward for those who take up the cross and follow Him.
In this second of the five major discourses of Jesus in Matthew, Jesus summons the twelve disciples and formally hands over to them His same authority to preach the good news of the kingdom and to heal "every" disease (10:1, 7-8), but not, tellingly, the authority to teach! That will come only at the end of the Gospel after the Resurrection (28:18-20). Along with the authority come instructions for the conduct of the disciple mission, instructions that would seem to offer some transparency to the situation and mission of Matthew's own contemporary disciple community. It suggests a situation of wandering missionaries, relying on the hospitality of those who receive them and not lingering long with those who do not (10:9-15). It warns of the need for wisdom amid the tough realities of mission for ones who go as "sheep into the midst of wolves" (10:16). It gives encouragement to face certain persecution that the Father's Spirit will be with them and that in their suffering they are only imitating their master (10:17-25). It comforts them with the promise of the Father's presence and concern and with the value and hope of rewards for faithful endurance (10:26-42).
In so doing, key themes of discipleship and mission are noted, combining material from Mark, Q, and special Matthean material. The call for the decision to acknowledge the Son of Man will bring not peace but a sword (10:34). Worthy discipleship will mean to take up the cross and discover what it means that those who lose their lives for Jesus' sake will find it (10:37-39). Finally, disciples are given to realize that whoever welcomes them is actually welcoming the Messiah and, in turn, "the one who sent Me." The Messiah's identity is constituted in the mission of His disciples. So it is significant that such welcoming is linked here to the theme of righteousness. Three times righteousness is specifically mentioned in connection with the disciple mission (10:41) and even a cup of water for these "little ones" in the name of a disciple merits reward (10:42). The discourse concludes once again with the characteristic formula of disciple instruction and reference to Jesus' ongoing ministry of teaching and proclamation (11:1).
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve:
It is unlikely that the author was the apostle Matthew considering how much of what he includes comes from Mark, who was not an eyewitness. The view that the author was a Jewish Christian has been very popular in the past. However, there are a number of issues with this manner of thought. The main issue is that the author makes mistakes concerning Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish parties and their beliefs. For example, the author mentions Jesus riding into Jerusalem on two animals, which is a quotation from Zechariah portraying an overly literal fulfillment of the synonymous parallelism of the prophecy. There is no theological purpose for this except to insist that the prophecy was literally fulfilled. Thus, more recently many scholars have preferred the possibility that the author was a Gentile.
Time and Place:
According to the two-source theory, which has the author using Mark and an unknown source named Q, it would likely have been written after A.D. 70, somewhere around A.D. 80-90. Most places at this time do not pass for likely candidates after looking closely at them. The most likely place of composition at this time would be Antioch; its mix of Jewish and Gentile thought would match that of this gospel.
This was a time of transition for the church as it moved away from its original emphasis on Jews. The church in Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 and at this point most Jews had rejected the Christian gospel while the gentiles increasingly accepted Christianity. The church had to work out what its position was with its roots in Judaism and its following being increasingly non-Jewish.
This chapter is entirely discourse. It is centered on instructions for the missionary work of the disciples.
In verse 1 we have a summary of the chapter, saying simply that the disciples were given authority to perform miracles as Jesus did. Verses 2-4 give us the names of the twelve disciples.
The rest of the chapter contains the instructions that were given to the twelve by Jesus. In verses 5 and 6 Jesus tells His disciples that their ministry will be to the Jews and not the Gentiles or Samaritans. In verse 7 the disciples are told to preach that the kingdom of heaven is near. Verse 8 reiterates what verse 1 says in that Jesus tells the disciples to work miracles. Verses 9 and 10 have Jesus telling the disciples to take no money or other supplies on their journey.
Verse 11-13 have Jesus instructing the disciples to find homes to stay in at the town they enter and should the home is deserving to let their peace rest on it but should it be undeserving to let their peace return to them. In verse 14 the disciples are instructed to shake the dust off their feet when leaving a town that does not welcome them and verse 15 tells the reader that those towns that do not welcome the disciples will be worse off than the condemned towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. In verse 16 the disciples are instructed to be careful and not get caught up in the ways of the world.
Verse 17 tells the disciples to be careful concerning the people around them because they will hand the disciples over to be punished. Verse 18 goes on to say that the disciples will be witnesses before the leaders of their time and Gentiles. In verses 19 and 20 Jesus tells the disciples not to worry because the Holy Spirit will give them the words they will need to say.
Verse 21 says that family members will betray each other and verse 22 goes on to say that everyone will hate the disciples but those who are firm in their belief of Him will be saved. In verse 23 Jesus tells them to go on to another place when they are persecuted and that they will not go through all cities before Jesus returns. In verses 24 and 25 Jesus says that a student is not above his teacher but it is enough for the student to be like the teacher and Jesus says that if He is called Beelzebub then so will the disciples.
Verses 26-28 have Jesus telling the disciples not to be afraid and to proclaim the good word boldly, keeping in mind that man can destroy only the body and watching out for the one who destroys body and soul. In verses 29-31 Jesus notes that God cares for each of the sparrows and the disciples are worth much more than sparrows so they have no need to fear.
Verses 32 and 33 say that those who acknowledge their faith boldly will be acknowledged by Jesus but those that deny Him will be denied by Him.
Verse 34 Jesus says that He “did not come to bring peace, but a sword”. Verses 35 and 36 emphasize again that family members will be turned against each other. Verses 37 and 38 continue this emphasis, saying that loving a family member more than Jesus makes them unworthy of Jesus and the same goes for those who do not take up their cross and follow Jesus. Verse 39 says that a person who finds his life will lose it and a person who loses his life because of Jesus will find it.
Verse 40 is restating that a person receiving the disciples is receiving Jesus and, additionally, receiving God. Verse 41 says that a person who receives a prophet because they are a prophet receives a prophet’s reward and a person who receives a righteous man because the man is righteous receives a righteous man’s reward. Verse 42 finishes the chapter saying that if a person gives another even something as simple as a cup of water because they are Jesus’ disciple then they will not lose their reward.
Peace: Greek Root: ειρήνη. Peace, quietness, rest, set at one again.
Receive: Greek Root: λαμβάνω. To accept, attain, obtain, receive, take.
Worthy: Greek Root: άξιος. Deserving, comparable, suitable, due reward, meet.
Overview: Introduction: Verses 1-4
This chapter is a response to the preceding passage concerning the need for workers to gather in the harvest. It begins with the bestowing of authority upon the disciples and then leads into a listing of exactly who the twelve disciples are.
Mission Instructions: Verses 5-15
This section begins with an outline of who the disciples were to focus in on in this mission. "Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel" (NIV). The lost sheep of Israel is not referring to a segment of Jews but to all of Israel. The prohibition against going to the Gentiles and Samaritans may very well have been to forestall them from trying to repeat Jesus' success with those peoples as well as the fact that the disciples may antagonize the Samaritans because of the tension between Jews and Samaritans.
The next instruction is what they are to do on this mission. Their primary objective was to preach that the kingdom of heaven was near. They were also to "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy," and "drive out demons" but these were to be secondary to their message (NIV).
The next section concerns their provisions. In the process of their journey they were not to charge the people but their basic needs were to be met. In keeping this in mind they were not to provide themselves with the usual things travelers concern themselves with but they were to rely on God's provision through the hospitality of the people.
The final section of instruction concerns the disciples' dealings with those who would be sheltering them. They were to find "some worthy person there and stay at his house" until their departure, which meant they were to find a person who was both willing and able to receive them and their message. If the home was deserving they were to let their peace or greeting rest on the house and if not to take it back. This greeting had value in that the disciples had a relationship with Jesus and loss of their presence would be loss of Jesus. Where the disciples were not accepted they were to shake the dust off their feet and leave, something Jews practiced when leaving Gentile or unclean territory to dissociate themselves from the judgment awaiting the Gentiles. In this way the disciples would essentially be saying those Jewish towns were viewed as pagan and deserving of judgment, which is emphasized in the reference to Sodom and Gomorrah as they had become symbolic of catastrophic judgment.
Persecution: Verses 16-25
This section is introduced by an analogy illustrating the danger the disciple will be in and what will be required of them as a result. "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (NIV). This will mean maintaining a balance of prudence and innocence. Verse 17 and 18 describe two different time periods in which the disciples will have to be on their guard against those who are against them. The first is before the separation of Christianity from Judaism, as the method of persecution is related to the Sanhedrin, and the second is after Christianity has become a religion of its own. The disciples are then told that when they are arrested they are not to worry because they will be given what to say by the Holy Spirit. The persecution is further compounded by the fact that the disciples are told that even their families will betray them. "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (NIV). Standing firm is not so much to say resistance but endurance of the persecution. In standing firm they will receive their reward, not necessarily that they will be saved from their physical death.
Verse 23 essentially tells us that the disciples will not complete this mission to Israel before Jesus comes in judgment upon Israel.
The last two verses of this section state plainly that if Jesus is being equated with Beelzebub than they should expect no less, as their message is His message and equates them with Him.
Fear and Discipleship: Verses 26-39
This section moves into the subject of fear. The disciples were expected as Jesus' messengers not to give in to fear and as a result to speak publicly what they had been told. In addition, they should not fear because man can only kill the body and the disciples' souls cannot be killed by man, while God can kill both body and soul. Finally, they ought not to fear because God cares for even the smallest sparrow and the very hairs on their head and, thus, much more will he care for a person.
This second part of the section outlines what the disciple ought to look like. It emphasizes again that the disciples are to acknowledge Christ publicly and this is not an option for Christ will acknowledge only those who acknowledge Him. Jesus is not bringing peace to the world, and specifically families, but division. As a result, the disciples are expected to love God supremely over their family for if they did not they would fall away. This devotion above that to family includes devotion to the point of death. If they follow this they will have life after death and if they do not they will have death awaiting them after this life.
Concluding Note: Verses 40-42
This section goes back to the topic of hospitality in verses 5-15. "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives the one who sent Me" (NIV). Receiving the message of the disciples would involve receiving their message and thus Jesus' message. In showing hospitality to a prophet or righteous man, in other words a disciple, with no need for any other reason than that, the person who received them would be rewarded even if that act of hospitality was something so small as to give a drink of water.
In-Depth Look at Verses 26-39: Fear and The Cost of Discipleship
Verse 26 is a transition from the verses before it into the topic of fear. Verse 26 then seems to move away from the initial transition but it is in actuality further introducing what the disciples ought to do in the face of fear, this is laid out specifically in verse 27. "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs" (NIV). In time the disciples would speak publicly the words Jesus told them in private. They would in essence have a more public ministry than Jesus. Luke differs noticeably from this in his parallel passage of chapter 12 verse 3 "What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs" (NIV). He is warning the disciples that what they say secretly will become public.
Verse 28 moves on to the next reason the disciples should not fear. Here the reason not to fear is plainly that the worst men can do to them does not match the worst God can do. Man can only kill the body but God can kill both the body and soul.
Verses 29-31 cover the third argument against fear. They put forth an argument that is backwards to how we would normally think, putting forth God's care in the smallest of details as evidence of His ability to care of much bigger issues. It is interesting to note the extremity of this statement in regards to using sparrows as a measure of God's care for the smallest of details or creatures as sparrows were the "cheapest living things used for food".
Characteristics of Discipleship:
Verse 32 moves on to begin to further outline what discipleship should look like. Though not necessarily in the face of fear, verse 33 continues that theme with the statement that "whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven" (NIV). Acknowledging Him would involve accepting His message and following Him in discipleship while the extremity of disown implies apostasy. There are consequences to giving in to fear and Jesus makes that clear. Publicly acknowledging Christ is necessary to being a disciple and this cannot be sidestepped.
Verse 34 is a statement refuting what the Jews of that day, as well as what many people today; thought would result from the coming of their Savior. "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" states quite firmly that Jesus has not come to bring peace and prosperity, a thought that would have been natural to the disciples (NIV). In fact, verses 35 and 36 go on to say that families will be divided because of Jesus. Man's freedom will not be inhibited and, thus, strife and division will increase rather than decrease for His disciples.
Verse 37 is a direct result of the division in verses 35 and 36. It is not saying not to love family but to love God above family. When division occurs in the family, you are to follow God despite the fact that your family will not. Verse 38 further challenges the disciples with Crucifixion. Not only does this entail being ready for death but also a willingness to die in the most shameful of manners. Verse 39 is essentially Jesus telling His disciples the results of the two paths open to them. They could acknowledge Him, lose their life to their fellow man, and gain eternity or they could deny Him, save their life, and lose their eternal reward.
Following the original author's intent at the paragraph level
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
Background to Matthew 10:1-42
A. The newly chosen disciples are sent out on a mission trip which was foreshadowed in Matt. 9:37-38. Jesus also sent, at a later time, a larger group of seventy disciples (cf. Luke 10:1ff).
B. This passage is paralleled in Mark 3:14-16; 6:7-13; and Luke 9:1-6. There may have been several of these kinds of mission trips.
C. Jesus' message to the Twelve has three divisions marked off by the recurrent phrase "Truly, I say to you" Matt. 10:15, 23, 42.
Word and phrase study
NASB (Updated) text: Matthew 10:1
1Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
10:1 "twelve": This is the first time this number is stated, possibly corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. See Special Topic: The Number Twelve at Matt. 14:20.
"Disciples" This is literally "learners." The New Testament emphasizes disciples, not just decisions (cf. Matt. 28:19; Acts 14:21)! The Special Topic below addresses this theological distinction.
Special topic: Salvation (Greek verb tenses)
"Gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out" Jesus empowered these followers with His power. They became His official representatives (i.e., Apostles). The physical miracles were a way of confirming Jesus' new message.
Special topic: Exorcism
"Unclean spirits. . .heal every kind of disease" Notice a distinction is made between demon possession and disease. Demons can cause diseases, but not always.
Special topic: The Demonic (Unclean Spirits)
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:2-15
2Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; 4Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. 5These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, freely you received, freely give. 9Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. 11 And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. 12As you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shakes the dust off your feet. 15Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city."
10:2 "the names of the twelve apostles" The term “apostle" (see note at Matt. 10:5) is used only in Matthew (here) and Mark (3:14) in connection with the list of the apostles’ names, also once more in Mark 6:30. It is much more common in Luke and Acts.
1. Luke 6:13; 9:10; 11:49; 17:5; 22:14; 24:10
a. the Twelve, Acts 1:2,26; 2:37,42,43; 4:33,35,36,37; 5:2,12,18,29,40; 6:6; 8:1,14,18; 9:27; 11:1; 15:2,4,6,22,23; 16:4
b. other apostles (later use of the term)
(1) Paul, Acts 14:4, 14 (equal authority with the Twelve)
(2) Barnabas Acts 14:14 (lesson authority)
The lists of the Apostles are found in Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:12-16, and Acts 1:13-14. The names and order change slightly. However, they are always in three groups of four. Peter is always first and Judas Iscariot is always last. The groupings stay the same. These groupings were possibly a rotating system whereby certain disciples could go home for short periods to check on their families.
Special topic: The chart of apostles' names
"Bartholomew" He was also called Nathaniel (cf. John. 1:45-51).
"Matthew" He was also called Levi (cf. Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27).
"Thaddeus" He was also called Judas, the son or brother of James (cf. Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) or Lebbaeus (Greek MSS C2, L, and W).
NASB, NJB" Simon the Zealot"
NKJV" Simon the Canaanite"
NRSV"Simon, the Canaanean"
TEV "Simon, the Patriot"
He was also called "the Canaanean," which could refer to one from Cana (cf. Mark 3:18). However, the Greek reflects a Hebrew term "zealous." He was a Jewish patriot and separatist (cf. Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). For Matthew and Simon to be in the same group shows the radical change that Jesus accomplished in these men's lives.
"Iscariot" This term can mean a man from a city in Judah, Kerioth (from the Hebrew), or an assassin's knife (from the Greek). If he was from Judah, he was the only Apostle from the south.
"the one who betrayed Him" There is an interesting book that attempts to interpret Judas in a new, a more positive way, Judas, Betrayer or Friend of Jesus? By William Klassen, published by Fortress Press, 1996. However, to do so it completely ignores John's Gospel.
"sent" This was from the same Greek root as " apostle" (apostello, used in the LXX for God sending the prophets to speak for Him), which came to mean within rabbinical circles "sent one" with the implication of official authority. Mark 6:7 tells us Jesus sent the Apostles out in pairs.
"Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans" This is probably the source of Paul's "Jew first and also the Greeks" (cf. Rom 1:16). This was not exclusivist, but limiting His emphasis so as to give Abraham's descendants every chance to respond.
The Jews hated the Samaritans because they were considered half-breeds. This referred to the Assyrian exile of the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel in 722 B.C. Thousands of Jews were deported to Media and thousands of Gentiles were exiled to take their place in Israel. Over the years an amalgamation of religion and social customs had occurred (cf. Ezra and Neh.). At this early stage of Jesus' ministry the inclusion of either of these groups would have negatively affected His ability to reach Jews!
"The lost sheep" This was an unusual combination of terms; "sheep" often referred to God's people (cf. John. 10), while “lost" implied their spiritual helplessness and vulnerability (cf. Matt. 9:36), especially if there is no shepherd (cf. Num. 27:17; 1 Kgs. 22:17; Ps. 119:176; Isa. 53:6; Zech. 13:7).
"Of the house of Israel" This was an idiomatic way of referring to the descendants of the Patriarchs. They are also known as
1. The house of Jacob (i.e., Luke 1:33, cf. Matt. 15:24; Acts 2:36; Heb. 8:8)
2. The house of Judah (i.e., Heb. 8:8)
3. Children of Abraham (i.e., Matt. 3:9; John 8:33, 39)
Special topic: Israel (The name)
"As you go" This is a present active participle used as an imperative (cf. Matt. 28:19).
"Preach" This was a present imperative. This is a foreshadowing of (1) the mission trips of the Twelve and seventy and (2) the Great Commission of Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8.
"Kingdom . . .is at hand" This was to be the content that they were to preach (cf. Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9, 11; 11:20; 21:31). The kingdom is the reign of God in human's hearts now which will one day be consummated over all the earth (cf. Matt. 6:10). Although the disciples did not understand it yet (i.e., Luke 24:16, 31), it began with the Incarnation of Christ (the Messiah) and will be consummated at the Second Coming of Christ. Initially Jesus and the disciples preached a message similar to John the Baptist's message. See Special topic: The Kingdom of God at Matt. 4:17.
"Heal. . .raise. . .cleanse. . .cast out" These are all present imperatives (cf. Matt. 10:1). They went and ministered as Jesus ministered. His power and authority were flowing through them. These signs confirmed their message about Him.
The Greek manuscripts contain several variations of the phrase "raise the dead." This may be because (1) biblical records are lacking that the twelve Apostles did this, (2) it is metaphorical of the spiritually dead, and (3) Matthew used the other three verbs often without mentioning "raising the dead." See Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary On the Greek New Testament, pp. 27-28. The phrase is included in the uncial MSS א, B, C, D, N, and many versions.
"Lepers" In the OT the disease of leprosy was a sign of God's disfavor (cf. 2 Chr. 26:16-23).
"Cast out demons" Jesus' power is greater than Satan and the demonic (cf. 1 John. 4:4). The demons are designated by the terms “spirits," (cf. Matt. 8:16) and "unclean spirits," (cf. Matt. 10:1). The origin of demons is not disclosed in Scripture. The rabbis attribute the origin of evil in the world to Genesis 6 (Paul says it was Genesis 3; cf. Rom. 5:12-21). They assert that the "sons of God" mentioned in Genesis became disembodied at their death by the flood of Noah and became the demons of the NT period seeking another body.
"freely you received, freely give" This is not a passage against salaries for missionaries, but rather encouraging believers to trust in God while doing Kingdom work in (1) His power, (2) His provisions, and (3) His purposes to be accomplished. These verses are not universal principles, but guidelines for this particular mission trip (cf. Luke 22:35-36). They are the practical application of Matt. 6:25-34 to the present situation.
"Your money belts" This was how first century Jews carried their coinage.
"Bag" This kind of bag functioned as a suitcase. The disciples were not to carry with them everything they might need, but trust God's daily provision.
"Or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff" Comparisons with Mark 6:8-9 have caused great controversy. The theories are
1. " Staff" could be used in two different senses: a walking stick or a defensive club
2. The two shirts of Matt. 10:10 imply "do not take extras of these items"
3. Luke 22:35-36 shows one harmonization
The Gospels were not written for us to compare the details. The key to this text is that believers are to trust in God for His provisions; rely on His resources!
"For the worker is worthy of his support" Jesus is probably alluding to the truth of Deut. 25:4 (cf. 1 Cor. 9:6-7, 14; 1 Tim. 5:18), which goes back to Deut. 24:14-15 (cf. Lev. 19:13). Gospel preachers are to be supported by their hearers! The NT guidelines for giving are not OT tithing, but voluntary, sacrificial, joyful, according to the ability (cf. 2 Corinthians 8-9). See Special topic: Tithing at Matt. 23:23.
NASB" inquire who is worthy in it; and stay at this house until you leave that city"
NKJV" inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out"
NRSV" find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave"
TEV" Go in and look for someone who is willing to welcome you, and stay with him until you leave that place"
NJB" Seek out someone worthy and stay with him until you leave"
When they came to a village (1) they were to seek out a godly home which desired the blessing of their presence, and (2) they were not to move again and again seeking better accommodations. It is possible that the godly home would be one of the first that responded to their preaching.
"Give it your greeting" This referred to the traditional Jewish blessing of peace, shalom.
"If . . . if" There are two third class conditional sentences which meant potential future action.
"Shake the dust off your feet" This was a Jewish symbol of rejection (cf. Acts 13:51; 18:6).
This is one passage that implies degrees of judgment based on the amount of light that has been rejected (cf. Matt. 11:22-24). Also notice the same book which reveals God's matchless love also reveals God's wrath and judgment. See Special topic: Degrees of rewards and punishments at Matt. 5:12.
"Truly" See Special Topic at Matt. 5:18.
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:16-20
16Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 18and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
"I send you out as sheep" Sheep were a metaphor for the new faith community which was fragile, helpless, and in need of constant care and protection, see Luke 10:3 and John. 10. This the first of four metaphors from the animal kingdom that characterize humanity.
"In the midst of wolves" Wolves represented those who prey on the new community of faith, see Matt. 7:15-27; Luke 10:3; John. 10:12; Acts 20:29; 2 Peter 2.
"Shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves" Believers must be wise but innocent (cf. Rom. 16:19). They were to avoid conflict when possible, but remain bold proclaimers of the gospel.
"Because of. . ." This is a present active imperative (cf. Matt. 7:15; 16:6, 11). Even with the dawn of the new age (Romans 5-6); the old age remains (Romans 7)! This is the tension of “the already" and the "not yet" of the overlapping (i.e., two comings of Christ) of the two ages. See Special Topic at Matt. 12:31.
"The courts" This referred to local Jewish synagogue courts (cf. Matt. 23:34). It is interesting to note that some of Mark's eschatological discourse (cf. Mark 13:9-13) of Jesus is repeated here instead of Matthew 24. Therefore, this mission assignment of the Disciples takes on eschatological implications (as does Matt. 10:23).
"scourge" This referred to Jewish flogging (cf. Deut. 25:3), which consisted of one less than forty lashes, one-third on the front of the body and two-thirds on the back (cf. 2 Cor. 11:24).
"In their synagogues" See parallel at Matt. 23:34. This was the local place of worship, education, and welfare relief.
"You will even be brought before governors and kings" This referred to the future universal spread of the gospel (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8). It is important that the narrow exclusiveness of Matt. 10:5 be balanced by this verse. Gordon Fee (How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth, p. 133) makes the assertion that Matt. 10:5-12 relate to the sending out of the Twelve new apostles, but Matt. 10:10-20 are instructions for a much later time (i.e., governors, kings, Gentiles) because at first Jesus came only to the lost sheep of Israel. This illustrates how the Gospel writers "selected, rearranged, and adapted" Jesus' teachings to meet the needs of the early church.
Another example of this is Matt. 10:23 "until the Son of Man comes" (see note at Matt. 10:23). Obviously this could have several meanings depending on the historical period.
"governors and kings" If this refers to (1) Jesus' day, then Pontius Pilate or (2) Paul's mission activities then
1. " Governors" could be the Roman governors of Felix (Acts 23:24) or Festus (Acts 24:27)
2. " Kings" could be Agrippa I (Acts 12:1) or Agrippa II (Acts 25:13)
They basically stand for governmental authority of any kind.
This speaks of special illumination and grace during persecution (cf. Mark 13:11; Luke 21:12). This is not a proof-text for preachers and teachers not studying before proclaiming! This verse and verse 26 are aorist subjunctives with the negative particle which meant never start an action. Verses 28 and 31, which also deal with fear, are present imperatives with the negative particle which usually meant stop an act in process.
"It is the Spirit of your Father" Here the Holy Spirit is linked to the Father (cf. Rom. 8:11, 14). In Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 4:6; and 1 Pet. 1:11 the Spirit is linked to the Son. There is fluidity between the persons of the Trinity. They all participate in the acts of redemption. See Special topic: The Trinity at Matt. 3:17.
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:21-22
21Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against his parents and cause them to be put to death. 22You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
This speaks of the radical commitment necessary for discipleship which supersedes even family love and often caused confrontation within families (cf. Matt. 10:34-39).
"you will be hated by all because of My name" Persecution was expected for disciples of Jesus (cf. Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21; 16:1-3; 17:14; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-4; 8:17; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 6:3-10; 11:23-30; Phil. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4; and all of 1 Peter.
Special topic: Why do Christians suffer?
"It is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved" The doctrine of the "perseverance" (see Special Topic below) is as biblical as "the security of the believers!" (cf. Matt. 24:13; Gal. 6:9; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12; 21:7). We must affirm both truths, even though they cause doctrinal tension! Doctrines are given in tension-filled relationship to other doctrines, not isolated truths. The best illustration is that biblical truth is revealed as constellations of stars, not as single stars. We must focus on the patterns of the whole of biblical revelation.
"End" (telos) refers to the end of this age (cf. Matt. 24:6, 13, and 14). "Saved" can be understood in its OT sense of physical deliverance or its NT sense of spiritual salvation.
Special topic: Perseverance
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:23
23"But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes."
"But, whenever they persecute you" This is missing in Luke, but has a parallel in Mark 9:1. See note and Special Topic at Matt. 10:22.
"Flee to the next" Believers must avoid conflict and confrontation when possible. Evangelism must be the constant goal!
"Truly" See Special Topic at Matt. 5:18.
"You will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes" This was probably initially understood as
1. Jesus will rejoin the Twelve after their mission
2. Jesus asserts His authority in Jerusalem
3. Inauguration of the church (i.e., Pentecost)
4. Jesus fulfilling His promises to them (i.e., upper room event of John 20:19-23)
5. The judgment on Jerusalem in a.d. 70 (NASB Study Bible, p. 1382)
6. Jesus' Second coming in power as Judge (i.e., Dan. 7:13-14), inaugurating the eternal kingdom
See Special Topic: the Any-Moment Return of Jesus vs. the Not-Yet (NT paradox) at Matt. 24:27.
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:24-25
24"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!"
"If" This is a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes.
"Beelzebul" This was a compound term from Ba'al and Zebub. This was the local Ba'al of Ekron (cf. 2 Kgs. 1:16). The Jews changed the names of pagan rulers and pagan gods by changing the vowels, to make fun of them. The term can be translated as "Lord of the house," “Lord of the flies," or "Lord of the dung."
The second term was often spelled Zebul, the chief demon in Jewish folklore (cf. Matt. 12:24; Luke 11:15). This explains why NASB and NRSV have Beelzebul, while NKJV and NIV have Beelzebub.
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:26-27
26Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.
"Do not fear them" This is a negative aorist passive (deponent) subjunctive like Matt. 10:19 functioning as an aorist active imperative like Matt. 10:28 and 31. This construction meant "do not even start an action." This verse states that the motives and purposes of the human hearts, both positive and negative, will be known on Judgment Day.
It is difficult to relate the truth of this verse with the biblical promises that when God forgives, God forgets (cf. Ps. 103:11-14; Isa. 1:18; 38:17; 43:25; 44:22; Micah 7:19). Possibly unconfessed (believers, cf. 1 John 1:7-9) sin or unforgiving (unbelievers) sin is being referred to. I so rejoice in the "forgetfulness of God”! Jesus' blood cleanses from all sin (cf. Hebrew 9)!
Believers are not to fear humans, but respect/fear God (cf. Matt. 10:28; Heb. 10:31).
Overall, this verse refers to the motives and actions of
1. unworthy houses, Matt. 10:13
2. Wolves, Matt. 10:16
3. evil men, Matt. 10:17
4. governors and kings, Matt. 10:18
5. brother, Matt. 10:21
6. child, Matt. 10:21
7. "They" of Matt. 10:23
8. "Them" of Matt. 10:26
9. "Those" of Matt. 10:28
"housetops" The flat rooftops common in Palestine were places of social activity; therefore, what was told would become public knowledge. Jesus wants His message known by all mankind!
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:28-31
28Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30But the very hairs of your head are numbered. 31So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
"Do not fear" See notes at Matt. 10:26.
"To destroy" See Special Topic: Apollumi at Matt. 2:13.
"Soul and body" This verse does not refer to a sharp dichotomy between body, soul, and spirit, but is an expression of the possibility of physical death, but not eternal death for believers.
Special topic: Body and Spirit
"In hell" This was the Hebrew term "Gehenna." It was a compound of "valley" and "(sons of) Hinnom." This was a valley outside Jerusalem where a Canaanite fertility and fire god (cf. Lev. 18:21) was worshiped by sacrificing children (called molech). The Jews turned it into the garbage dump for Jerusalem. Jesus' metaphors of eternal punishment were taken from this burning, stinking, worm-infested dump. See Special Topic: Where Are the Dead? at Matt. 5:22.
"Sparrows . . . hairs" God cares and knows about every aspect of believer’s lives (cf. Luke 12:6; 21:18; 1 Pet. 5:7). This is a promise of individual (not corporate) concern.
"A cent" This is literally "assarion," which was a Roman copper coin. One assarion could buy several sparrows.
"So do not fear" See note at Matt. 10:19 and 26.
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:32-33
32"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is heaven."
"Who confesses Me before men" This meant “publicly acknowledge" (cf. Mark 8:38; Luke 12:8-9). Verses 32 and 33 are contrasting parallel statements. Christianity is a God-offered covenant that must be personally, publicly received, obeyed and maintained.
Special topic: Confession
"My Father in heaven" There are several different pronouns used with Father.
1. Your - Matt. 5:16, 45; 6:1; 7:11
2. Our - Matt. 6:9
3. My - Matt. 7:21; 10:32, 33; 12:50
12:50 is crucial, one who does the Father's will, as Jesus does, is part of the family. One who refuses is not part of the family. It must have been particularly irritating to the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day to hear Him, an unofficial rabbi and Galilean upstate, to use "Father" to refer to YHWH, the Holy One of Israel. Even more so to allow the outcast to be included in God's family!
The antonym of "confess" (homologeō, cf. Matt. 10:32 [twice]) is "deny" (arneomai, cf. Matt. 10:33 [twice]; Matt. 26:70, 72 [aparneomai in Matt. 26:35, 75]). See Special topic: Confession at Matt. 10:32 above.
This is a shocking verse, as is 2 Tim. 2:12. It must be remembered that public acknowledgment in word (cf. Rom. 10:9-13) and deed (cf. Matt. 13:1-23; 25:36-46) is crucial. The decisions made now relate to eternity (cf. Matt. 25:46).
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:34-36
34"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and a man's enemies will be the members of his household."
"Do not think" According to the Analytical Greek New Testament by Barbara and Timothy Friberg, this verb is an aorist active subjunctive used as an aorist active imperative.
Jesus was probably speaking these words against the backdrop of the Jewish expectations concerning the Messiah, who was called the "Prince of Peace" (cf. Isa. 9:6). The Jews expected the Messiah to usher in a military order and a nationalistic peace on the Jews’ behalf (cf. Luke 12:49-53).
"Peace" This term's etymology was "to bring together that which was broken" (cf. John. 14:24).
"I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" Jesus did not come to bring war or strife, but the fact that He has come forces humans to make a radical decision between "follow ship" or rejection (cf. John. 3:17; Luke 12:51-53).
"For I came to set a man against his father" See Matt. 10:21. The parallel in Luke 14:26 has the Hebrew idiom, "hate father," which was an idiom of comparison. We must recognize this as a Hebrew idiom instead of interpreting it literally (cf. Gen. 29:31, 33; Deuteronomy. 15; Mal. 1:2-3; John. 12:25). This speaks of a radical priority commitment to Jesus which supersedes all earthly ties.
This is a quote from Micah 7:6. This passage was often quoted in eschatological settings (cf. Mark 13:12 and Luke 12:53).
"A man's enemies will be the members of his household" A good example of this type of familial pressure can be seen in Peter's response to Jesus' claim to Messiah ship (cf. Matt. 16:22).
NASB (Updated) Text: Matthew 10:37-39
37"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."
"He who loves. . .more than Me" The key here is radical priority commitment. Discipleship, unlike decision, is a life-long commitment of follow ship and obedience!
"Is not worthy of Me" See Luke 9:62.
"Take his cross and follow after Me" This is a graphic metaphorical summons to total commitment to Christ for life. Jesus is demanding that possible followers count the cost (cf. Luke 14:25-35).
The cross was a Phoenician method of execution that was taken over by the Romans and developed into an ordeal involving several days of excruciating pain before death. Its purpose was to discourage non-Romans from criminal activity. There was a historical precedent of its use in Palestine:
1. Antiochus IV "Epiphanes" crucified eight hundred Pharisees
2. Varus, a Roman general, put down a revolt and crucified two thousand Jews along the highways of Palestine (cf. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17:10:10)
3. Herod planned on crucifying many Pharisees at his death so that people would grieve
This metaphor does not refer to some particular problem in your life. It refers to death-death to self (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 2:20; 1 John. 3:16).
"Life . . .life" This was the Greek term psuche. This term was often synonymous with "spirit" [pneuma]. In this context, however, it seems to refer to an individual person or self. This statement involved a radical crucifixion of self interest in light of Jesus' interest (cf. Matt. 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John. 12:25). Salvation involves far more than a decision or prayer. It demands one's all (possessions, family, reputation, time, and energy)! Nothing less will do!
"Lose" See Special Topic: Apollumi at Matt. 2:13.
NASB (Updated) TEXT: Matthew 10:40-42
40"He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."
"He who receives you receives Me. . .A prophet. . .a righteous man" The context seems to imply that Jesus is referred to personally by all three of these terms. The term "prophet" alludes to Deut. 18:15 and 18. The term "righteous man" equals "the Righteous One" of Acts 7:52 and possibly the Dead Sea Scrolls phrase "teacher of righteousness."
Jesus' radical new message was directed to those who would trust Him and His words. One must first repent and receive Him as their savior and hope. In so doing they become identified with the new spiritual kingdom of God. The disciple represents Jesus Himself and His message, therefore, whoever receives them and their message, receives Jesus and to receive Jesus is to receive the Father (cf. John 8:19; 16:3; 17:3; 1 John 2:23; 4:15; 5:1,10-12; 2 John 9). One cannot know or fellowship with the Father except through the Son (cf. John 14:6-7, 8-11).
"Sent" See Special Topic below.
Special topic: Send (Apostellō)
10:42 "gives to one of these little ones" Loving help by one Christian should be given to another simply because they are both related to Jesus Christ. "Little ones" are not children, but new believers (cf. Matt. 18:6).
"Truly" See Special Topic at Matt. 5:18.
"Reward" The Bible is replete with statements concerning the Christian's reward. These rewards are based on the Spirit's activity in believers and their yieldedness to His activity. However, in the bountiful grace of God believers will be rewarded for their Christ-like yieldedness and the effective operation of the Spirit working through their spiritual giftedness! See Special Topic at Matt. 5:12.
This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.
1. Why did Jesus limit Himself mostly to the Jews? Can you list the exceptions?
2. Why do Matthew, Mark, and Luke differ in their accounts of Jesus' life?
3. Are there degrees of reward and punishment? Based on what?
4. What is verse 23 referring to?
5. Why is public acknowledgment of faith in Jesus so important?
6. Why does Jesus cause such controversy?
7. What does it mean to take up one's cross and follow Him?
What is a summary of Matthew Chapter 10 in the Bible?
Matthew 10:1-42 describes Jesus as He was training the twelve apostles to do the preaching work and warning them of the persecution that would follow. (Matthew 10:7-8)The Apostles were given special healing powers to prove that God's spirit was now with them and no longer with the Jews. Jesus gave specific instructions on how to preach and what to expect when others realized they were taking a stand for the truth and objected. (Matthew 10:16-39)
Background Info: The Jewish nation had been God's chosen people for over a thousand years. They'd had miraculous signs of His presence at their temple for centuries, but now, with the arrival of the foretold Messiah, Jesus, God was no longer using the Jewish Nation. With the fulfillment of messianic prophecy, God was operating through this new little group of Christians, founded by His son. God's people would no longer have a physical Law Code (given to Israel), but would have the law of love 'written on their hearts'.
The Apostles were to preach to the Jews about Jesus (Matthew 10:5-6) They were to preach that 'the Kingdom of God was near' in the fact that Jesus was the Messiah (the King of God's Kingdom) and was there with them. The Jews were given the first option to accept the foretold Messiah. (Matthew 10:40)
Eternal Principles for Discipleship - Matthew 10:1-42
As we approach Matthew 10, to some extent, it was a limited commission given to Jesus' original twelve disciples. Yet, there are eternal principles discovered here that will empower us to succeed in Christ's great commission. This chapter reveals that these disciples were commissioned by Christ, protected by God and empowered by God's Holy Spirit. Today, even though we do not have the same manifestations, we have the same ever present God, Christ and the Holy Spirit working with us. They continue to empower God's people to do His work.
Jesus had traveled through the towns and villages for two years preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every kind of disease. As He looked out upon the multitudes He saw them as harassed, helpless and without any type of leadership. But He saw the potential. He said the fields are ripe for harvesting. Yet, He understood that one person couldn't do all the work. Jesus said, "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field." (Matthew 9:35-38)
It was at this point in Jesus' ministry, He called His disciples. (10:1-2) It was something like a rag-tag group, to say the least. There was Matthew the tax collector whom the Pharisees despised. It is somewhat ironic that Jesus would choose him to preach to the Jews. Then there was Philip, who had a hard time seeing the God about whom he preached. Just before Jesus' death, Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father. (John 14:9) Then there was Simon the radical, or the Zealot. It is always hard to work with a radical. He can always tear up more than you can fix. Then there was old two-faced Peter, who at times couldn't make up his mind on which side of the fence he wanted to stand. At times he had momentary bouts, where he was prone to cursing and turning his back on what he believed and had been preaching. But he did like to hear a rooster crow.
Then there was James and John looking for greatness. Each wanted to sit either on His left hand or His right hand. This tendency was so bad that they were called the sons of thunder. In fact, this attitude was contagious in the group; the group often had discussions about "Who would be the greatest in Christ kingdom?" We wonder if those tendencies were spawned by the sons of thunder. You can just hear discussions about who would preach for the biggest church, etc. Then there was the infamous Judas, who at the twinkle of an eye would put a spear into your side for thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 10:1-2)
Many had rather run a one-man show than trust people like this. But one person can't do it all. Although some had rather try than ask others or allow others to take part. There is no way that one person that can invade your lives and your work places to do what God is pleading with you to do, which is to reach the lost. The only way that even Jesus can invade those places is through you.
Don't Be Afraid to Include Others
Jesus simply gave this rag-tag group the authority and power of God. From a human standpoint, Jesus' group would seem highly unlikely to do great things. Yet, Jesus gave them the authority to drive out the evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. Jesus told them to go heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy and drive out the demons. Freely give as you have freely received. Jesus impressed upon these men their purpose and responsibility, but He also gave them power. We need to put others in charge and sit back and watch what God can do with a rag-tag army. He has always done wonders with such a group.
Sometimes we fail to see the relevancy of this story because it was a limited commission. After all, this commission was only meant for these twelve disciples. And after all, they had a very special power of God. Their mission was only to the Jews; this wasn't the great commission to the entire world that Jesus gave after His resurrection. But the principles are eternal. We also have a limited commission. We can only reach those with whom we play and work and come in contact with. But our commission is just as valid and it can be just as powerful and effective if we would only trust in God's power to make it so. There are eternal principles here, which have application to us today. They are eternal because we have the same God, Christ and the Holy Spirit as we work today.
Jesus sent seventy two others out empowered to do His work. They came back reporting what they had done. Luke 10:1-2, 17-24:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field . . . And the seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.' He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure. 'All things have been committed to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.' Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.'
Even Jesus was excited as He saw Satan falling like light from heaven. Today when one is won to Christ, in a sense Satan is falling from the sky in that his power is being diminished. Jesus is just as excited today. The joy in Christ's work is not that we make a showy presence through great physical manifestations, but that our names are written in heaven. That is what makes the difference. That is what gives us our power. The joy is found when we discover that God has revealed His secret to His children. They are the ones blessed by God because God has given them eyes to see. Sometimes His work is still showy, especially when you see a spiritually dead sinner resurrected to a new life in Christ. Christ works are still marvelous.
Isn't it encouraging that Jesus never asked anyone to do anything that He did not give him or her enabling power to do? "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On My account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:17-20)
It really isn't any different today. Of course, we don't have power to cast out demons, heal the sick, to raise the dead and cleanse leprosy. But do we not work for the same powerful God? Does He not continue to empower His people to do His bidding? Just because God manifest His power differently today doesn't mean that He doesn't manifest His power at all. In fact, the only time a great work is accomplished is when it is accomplished by the power of God.
We think that those first disciples had power which we don't have. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11) The Kingdom of Heaven is a reality on earth today; it is the church of our Lord. All those who are saved belong to it and Jesus said that the least in the kingdom is greater than John the Baptist. Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29) Then Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12) Jesus said, "I am with you always." (Matthew 28:18-19) The relevancy of these scriptural principles will continue to extend to eternity, although God's power is manifested differently. God continues to uphold all things by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:3) It is through Him that all things are held together. (Colossians 1:16-17)
Teaming Up with God Makes It Possible
Today we believe that we must choose people with natural leadership ability. This rag-tag group Jesus chose didn't look much like the people to whom we would wish to commit the gospel. Today most had rather do it themselves rather than trust God to use people like this.
We look for people who know something about what they are doing. We need someone with clout. We look for "Type A" personalities that can't be intimidated and who can make their presence felt as they enter the room. Yet, these men in the first century appeared ignorant and unlearned as they went before the world. Paul's presence was weak. Paul wrote, "I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power . . . For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
Somewhere in our strategies we lose sight of God. We usually try to develop some sort of unique easy formula to insure our success. We try to make everyone understand that their success will be limited if they fail to follow the plan. We feel as though the power is in the plan and our ability to work the plan. But this usually leaves the impression that "If it is to be, it is up to me." Although there is much, which is dependent on me, this attitude may leave God out of the picture.
It is Jesus who takes the providence of God to its ultimate possibilities. Jesus is encouraging His disciples before they meet trouble and distress. He encourages them by telling them that they should contemplate the providence of God, which reaches to the smallest of things like sparrows and hairs on our head. Yet, God preserves them and not one of them can fall to the ground without His knowledge of it. Imagine if you would, a little boy wanting God's attention. So he reaches up and pulls a hand full of hair out of his head. Then he says, "Dear God, since I have your attention and you are close enough to recount the hairs on my head, may I ask you for a favor?" God is just that close and involved in our personal lives.
Realizing God's presence as we go forth to do His bidding is the only thing in the world that makes doing His work possible. Jesus tells His disciples that not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing about it and God numbers the very hairs of their head. Jesus concludes by saying, "So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:26-31) Jesus spoke these words to remind His disciples of God's personal involvement in what they were being sent to do.
Words of reassurance are what spiritually troubled Christians need to hear when tossed by the billows of doubt and uncertainty. Jesus has never lost a soul entrusted to His care. We are safe in the refuge of God's love, secure for time and eternity because of His grace!
We must remember that God understands the difficulties. He takes it personal. "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives the one who sent Me." (Matthew 10:40) This principle continues to be true, and it signifies God's personal concern with what we are doing at the moment. When we are rejected, God feels the personal rejection Himself.
God always provides. "Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep." "Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you." (10:9-11)
One day God will also pass His judgment. "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth; it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (10:14-16)
God's presence is real as we speak. "But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:19-20) We realize that the days of inspiration are over, the truth has been revealed through the apostles and they have written those words down. (Ephesians 3:1-5) We can understand them as we read them and we communicate them as we teach and preach. But the question is: Is the word of God any less powerful today? Is the gospel the power of God to save? (Romans 1:16) Is God's Word still filled with Spirit and life? (John 6:63) Does God continue to give us wisdom to communicate His message? Are these principles that we find here any less valid today?
God's Word continues to be filled with Spirit and life. Imagine taking a bean seed and poking it into a pot of soil. You know, like children do, when the teacher is teaching them about God and how He makes things grow. God has placed enough power and potential in that one seed to alleviate the starvation of the entire world. But it has to be planted and the soil must be cultivated before God can work His wonder working power through that seed. God alone has the power to make the seed yield thirty or a hundredfold.
We can choose to allow the most powerful thing in the world to lie dormant. Or we can choose to allow God's Word to be planted in our hearts and endeavor to plant it in the hearts of others, so that God might manifest His wonder working power in our personal lives as He changes our hearts through the leading of His Spirit breathed Word.
Paul wrote to Timothy as a young minister, "Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this." (2 Timothy 2:7) Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better." (Ephesians 1:16-17) Is God any less willing to give us wisdom today? Of course, God's will has been revealed once and for all time (Jude 1:3), but He continues to give wisdom to those who ask for it. (James 1:5) And it is this very presence that makes God's work possible today.
Personal growth and church growth today are brought about as God gives it and because God lives in us. God's power makes His word grow in our hearts. (1 Corinthians 3:5-11) Paul said, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16) "And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you." (Romans 8:11) Paul wrote to Timothy saying, "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you, guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." (2 Timothy 1:14) "The Lord knows those who are His . . .” (2 Timothy 2:19) There is a great deal of power revealed in these verses. It is held in reserve for you. But it is dependent upon your willingness to receive it.
We do not receive the same manifestation of God's Spirit today, but we receive the same powerful Holy Spirit at baptism. (Acts 2:38-39) We can argue until Jesus comes about how it dwells in us, but the fact is that He does dwell in us, and His power has not diminished over time. He still gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (1 Peter 1:3-7) His power is real, but we must trust Him to do what God has sent Him to do, which is to change the hearts of people.
Don't Be Afraid of Failure
Even Jesus' strategy didn't make it easy. On the contrary, Jesus said, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves . . . Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues . . . they will arrest you . . . brother will betray brother to death and a father his child . . . a student is not above his teacher . . . if the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household . . . do not fear those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul . . . I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:17-36)
Courage is not the absence of fear. Someone has said, "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." Being a Christian neither guarantees fortitude nor frees us of all anxious feelings. However, it does give us God's Word, which when appropriated by faith makes dread and apprehension lose their paralyzing power.
A well known pianist and composer, Don Wyrtzen, sits at the keyboard before large audiences with poise and confidence. But he candidly admits to becoming anxious at times. "I can even have an anxiety attack," says Don. "What I do may sound simplistic, but it really works. I just sing quietly to myself verses like, 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.' I'm not saying that instantly the Lords waves a magic wand and the anxiety goes away, but I have experienced complete serenity from God in a time when I am anxious."
Early in this century a London newspaper carried an advertisement that read: "Men wanted for hazardous journey: small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, and constant danger. Safe return is doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success." The ad; signed by the famous Arctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, brought inquiries from thousands of men.
Commenting on this in his book Be Faithful, Warren W. Wiersbe said, "If Jesus Christ had advertised for workers, the announcement might have read something like this: 'Men and women wanted for difficult task of helping to build My church. You will often be misunderstood, even by those working with you. You will face constant attack from an invisible enemy. You may not see the results of your labor, and your full reward will not come till after all your work is completed. It may cost you your home, your ambitions, even your life.'"
It is not easy confessing Jesus to the world, but it is essential. "Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven. "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'" (Matthew 10:32-36)
Matthew 10:37-39: "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
A missionary in Africa was once asked if he really liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. "Do I like this work?" he said. "No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonably refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse . . . But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to `Go,' and we go. Love constrains us." We may not be serving the Lord under dangerous or unpleasant conditions, but the work He has called us to do has its own unique difficulties. In times of trial and testing, only the love of Christ can strengthen us to go on.
Matthew 10:40-42 : "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives the one who sent Me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."
We enjoy the presence of the same Christ, God and the Holy Spirit in our lives today. Although today we don't have miracles, we nonetheless through faith must trust in the same Supernatural God. We certainly have their assurance that we can continue to do God's work under their power. Their supernatural power for today is not as obvious as raising the dead, healing diseases, etc. It is nonetheless still just as powerful and as Supernatural as ever because it is above and beyond our natural world. Will you let that power have its way with your heart as you reach out to the lost?
If the church finds itself engaged in a losing battle today, could it be because we are trying to do God's work without His power? We must remember that God's work done without His power depletes God's people.
I. Jesus Called the Twelve Disciples (1-4)
1. How is Jesus' calling His twelve disciples and sending them out related to His prayer in 9:37, 38? What did He give them? Why?
2. Tell the names of the Twelve. Why are they also called "Apostles"? What kind of persons were they? Why do you think Jesus didn't call Pharisees or other Jewish religious leaders to be His disciples?
II. The Instructions to the Apostles (5-15)
3. Why do you think they were to go first to the lost sheep of Israel? (15:24; Acts 13:46; Isaiah 49:1-6) What principle must all Christians learn here? (Acts 1:8)
4. Why should the Kingdom of God be the main point of their message? How can we focus on Bible study and the good news? How did Jesus reinforce His message of good news?
5. What did He tell them their attitude should be toward material things? Why is this important? What principles can we learn here?
6. When they enter a town to preach the good news, why is it so important to find one worthy person? (11-13) What must they do if no one in a town welcomes them? Why?
7. What are the consequences of rejecting the servants God sends and the word of God which they speak?
III. Resistance to Persecution (16-31)
8. Why must servants of God be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves? What persecutions could the apostles expect? How were they to act in the face of persecution? (16-22)
9. How should apostles deal with the fear that arises when one is persecuted or betrayed? (24-28) Of whom should we be afraid? Why does fear of the Lord drive out all other fear? (29-31)
IV. Acknowledgment of Jesus' Name (32-42)
10. What are the results of failing to acknowledge Jesus? What is likely to happen when disciples confess their faith to their friends and family members? What is the cost of making a true confession of love for Jesus?
11. What kinds of sacrifices does acknowledging Jesus' name require? (37-38) What is the final outcome?
12. How is acknowledging Jesus practically related to acknowledging Jesus' servants and receiving them? Why would Jesus' disciples not esteemed in the eyes of the world and even called "little ones"? Why should respect and love be due to them?
Sometimes the choices we have to make in our lives are not always the most convenient for us. The sacrifices that one must make to accept Jesus and His followers may be too much to ask for some. We can only hope and pray that more and more see the light and accept His way of life.
Everybody had to make a choice to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior or not. Those who accept Jesus believe that He is the Son of God and the others rejects because the pleasures of the world are better for them
Most people are unable to forgo worldly desires to follow Jesus. Those who follow Him will eventually be persecuted for their beliefs in Jesus as Son of God.
Because they truly love god and believe in his power blindly and with true faith and receive Jesus as their savior but those who don’t receive Christ oppose him and his followers...
"In a nutshell, the Pharisees and the Sadducees who were in charge of religion for profit had become accustomed to their trappings. Jesus challenged the notion of salvation for profit, so to accept Him as the Messiah would have meant to give up their way of life". Pretty much the same attitude today ... "don't get in the way of my life" People don't want to give up "cherished things" ... it is easier to "write off Jesus" than to revamp or remodel one's life after Him" What I do not understand is how folks can believe in "spirits" yet say there is no Jesus? Think about it ... I mean really think about it ... You believe in unproven "satanic spirits" ... Yet Jesus is too far out on a limb? Those who do believe ... know a personal experience with Jesus ... Even science proves to Jesus ... we are the only planet in our universe able to sustain life ... have an intricate body system that is still not completely explainable ... the moon & stars are all exactly where they belong to have a livable environment ... People will find "ways" to disbelieve when they want to ... Jesus gives us more than enough evidence to grasp our belief in Him. Flowers ... animals ... the very breath one takes... the choice is a personal one; one can make this choice for another ... No choice is a decision...
People have different views some are afraid; others are courageous and learn to accept the truth. If you believe in Jesus as the Lord and savior then you follow, him but the road is will not be easy and the reward is eternal life. If you don't follow Jesus and do his will then the road is easy to everlasting fire.
Because of the struggle between flesh and the spirit and mostly the flesh rules over many.
Some choose to accept Jesus and others oppose Him and His followers because they are too obsessed with the worldly goods and other things of this world instead of believing in our true reward from God, after this life.
The ones that choose Jesus are the believers in Him and His teachings. Blessings.
Because they don't to give up their sinful nature.
I think some people don't feel they could ever be worthy. I believe nowadays people aren't taught the word young enough and then as they grow they form habits that are harder to change and don't know or understand it's not hard to believe Jesus died on the Cross to save us all from our sins. Amen
Some had open hearts that were waiting for HIs truth while some doubted and others were influenced not to believe
In my opinion, I believe many folks choose not to follow because they are either misled, confused or just don't want to be told how to live their lives and are directed by human nature as opposed to the holy spirit. And, whether this is the evil one working hard to alienate these people from JESUS and eternal salvation, there is always hope that one can turn and follow JESUS despite one's sins.
Some choose to accept Jesus, while others oppose Him because these people who oppose Him are those who do not believe in Jesus and lead their lives in wordly pleasures and their life is full of sin. They are spiritually dead and their life is far away from God. They do things to please their king, Satan. They are disciples of Satan. One cannot have two masters; they chose to serve their master, Satan. Those who choose Jesus are those who believe in Jesus and are born spiritually by accepting Jesus as their Savior, repenting from their sins and being baptized. They obey the teachings of Jesus and put it to practice in their daily lives. Their life is full of light. They hate the dark.
Only some choose to accept Jesus and others oppose Him because the god of this world has still a hold in the lives of those who oppose Him. They are still under the power of sin, that's why they cannot receive the truth that can set them free. If only they would open the eyes of their understanding to His Word that He is the only Way, the Truth and the Life, they would have received salvation and enjoy God's abundant life.
For they don't believe there's God who created this world so they don't accept Jesus as the Son of God.
Because they are bound with their thoughts and are not able to come out of them and accept the real spirit, they keep on following their own myths and lies and due to unawareness they even oppose the followers!! Because they are bound with their thoughts and are not able to come out of them and accept the real spirit, they keep on following their own myths and lies and due to unawareness they even oppose the followers!!
Some choose to accept Jesus because they trust and have faith in Him; believe He is the Christ. Others oppose Him because they don't believe He is the Christ.
Some don't want to give up the way they are living so they choose not to follow Jesus. Those that choose to follow Jesus give up the earthly things.
Because they follow the physical word and not the spiritual word. They would rather believe man and their ways, then to follow the truth of our Lord. They feel that they can get to heaven through their beliefs and not through Jesus Christ.
The ones that choose to follow Jesus believe in Him completely and are willing to face ridicule and prosecution from others who do not follow Him. We must believe and follow Jesus. Blessings.
Because in the following of Jesus Christ, surely we must bring our cross and crucify ourselves from every proposal in this world. Also in the following of Jesus Christ, we must preparing to sacrifices all of things about us. Blessings
Uganda needs your prayers for God's intervention in the situation we are going through of High inflation and political instability. please pray for us. Thanks and God bless you.
They choose Him because they have faith in Him and some had an encounter with Him in their lives which has made them worship Him, those who oppose Him are on the devils side because he is there to fight the kingdom of the son of Man
Some choose to accept Jesus because they love him and have full faith in the son of God who saved us from our sins. Others oppose him because they do not want to follow Jesus and do the right thing. The prefer going the wrong way and prefer their own way of destruction.
those who chose to except JESUS and HIS WORD and to follow his way will get there reward, some people chose not to follow JESUS because it does not fit in with their lives and its easier for them to put JESUS and HIS followers down than to follow
Romans 11:8 (King James Version)
8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
Jeremiah 17:23 (King James Version)
23But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.
Preaching of the cross, by men of faith and prayer, has always been fatal to idolatry, impiety, and wickedness.
I think that a lot of people are afraid to accept Jesus because they fear what they do not know. Accepting Jesus is a very joyous occasion, but can be extremely confusing, especially in the beginning. It's very hard for people to put their faith into something they cannot physically see or touch and that it takes more time to learn the Gospel than what people actually realize. Having faith takes time and is definitely worth it! Peace be with you.
They can't accept it, maybe because he was a man just like them who they thought was proclaiming to be god, they couldn't believe god can come in a human form. By: Gregorio Magdaleno
Category: Jesus Sends Out the Twelve