Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5)
Sabbath is a day of complete rest to the LORD, whoever does any work on it shall be put to death (Ex 31:12-17). As an example, God commanded the Jews not the kindle a fire in any of their dwellings on the Sabbath (Ex 35:2-3).
A man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day, and God commanded the Jews to stone him to dead (Number 15:33-36).
Picking grain is allowed by Deut 23:25. However it is not specifically mentioned that it can be carried out on Day of Sabbath. In fact, the apart from the above scriptures, the Torah has very little instruction on what are allowed and what are forbidden on the Day of Sabbath.
The question is whether picking some heads of grain and eat them considered work, not forbidden by God on Sabbath?
The Pharisee thought it was work and thus forbidden on Day of Sabbath.
Jews religious leaders have written many commentaries or interpretation of the laws, including what activities can or cannot be carried out on the Day of Sabbath. the writing is called Talmud. In the Talmud, there are 39 categories of what are forbidden on the Day of Sabbath.
Their religious focus is for the Jews to observe these laws, thus adding heavy burden to the people (Matthew 11:28).
The desire of God to establish Day of Sabbath is so His people can rest in Him. It is made clear in Hebrew 4:3 “Now we who have believed enter that rest..”
The Lord Jesus wanted to show the Pharisees the true meaning of Sabbath by telling them two examples: first is King David, second is the priests.
The original story is in 1 Sam 21:1-6. David was running from Saul’s persecution, and he went to Nob, where the Tabernacle was to ask High Priest Ahimelech bread with a lie. Ahimelech gave David the showbreads that were removed from the showbread table in the Tabernacle.
Showbreads need to be present at the table all the time (Ex 25:30), the bread needs to be changed out on every Sabbath (Lev 24:8). Only the Aaron and his sons can eat the bread in a holy place (Lev 24:9).
David and his followers ate the bread, but the old testament did not condemn them. It is because the position of David. He is King David, the shadow of King Jesus. King is the main theme of Matthew, for the book started with Jesus was the Son of David.
Technically the priest break the Sabbath because they need to make and remove the bread from the table in the Tabernacle. The priests also need to sacrifice two lambs for burn offering (Num 28:9). However they are innocent, because the purpose of Sabbath is for the Jews to rest from daily work so they can worship and serve the Lord God. The priests were serving God in the tabernacle, that is why they were considered innocent.
The temple shielded the priests from breaking the Sabbath, because the temple is greater than the Sabbath. Now Jesus is greater than the temple, King Jesus shielded His disciples from the accusation of the enemies.
Jesus mentioned He is greater than the temple (v6), He is greater than Jonah (v41), He is greater than Solomon (v42). Greater than temple because Jesus is the High Priest, greater than Jonah because Jesus is the Prophet, greater than Solomon because Jesus is the King!
A quote from Hosea 6:6. This is the second time Jesus quote this verse. The first time was in Matthew 9:13, where Jesus told the Pharisees that He did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners. In Chapter 9, because Pharisees were so focused on observing external rituals, they did not recognize themselves as sinners. In Chapter 12, the Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as the Lord of Sabbath.
The Jews in Hosea’s days relied on mere ritual to satisfied God. The Pharisees were doing the same thing.
The disciples didn’t break the Torah, but Jesus took the opportunity to teach them a lesson about God. God desires compassion, and not a sacrifice. It means God is concerned about our inward spiritual condition, not our outward religion activities. The Pharisees were so concerns about keeping external laws created by men, but they didn’t understand meaning of the Sabbath is to rest from this world, so that men can focus on worshipping God. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
Jesus healed a man whose hand was withered
That is why Jesus reveals to the Pharisees He is the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus has the authority to do whatever He wishes to do on Sabbath, because the Sabbath is about Jesus. Jesus’s authority is obviously infinitely greater than the Pharisee’s human’s authority.
According to Talmud, it is permissible to heal someone only if a sick person’s life is in danger.
Jesus is comparing the life of an animal, a sheep in this case with the life of a human. In both cases, the man and the sheep were not in mortal danger, however Jesus argued that if the Pharisees would lift the sheep out of the pit, they have more reasons to heal a man with a withered hand.
Jesus healed the man with His word. The word of Jesus has authority over all creation, for it is by His word the universe was created.
Jesus just did a miracle right in front the Pharisees, but they still did not believe He is the Messiah, the King of the Kingdom of Heaven. Even more so, they started to conspire to destroy Jesus. They may be thinking they are being obedience to God because the laws say whoever desecrate Sabbath shall be put to dead. (Ex 31:14).
The King is the Servant
Once again Jesus told those He healed not to tell others who He was.Why? I believe it is because Jesus’s main purpose at this point of His life is not to heal people’s physical sickness, thus He did not want that distraction. Instead, He wanted to spend more time prepare His disciples for His Kingdom.
Verse 18-20 is a quote from Isaiah 42:1-3.
Isaiah prophesied a Servant of God, who is gentle and loving. “A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out.” It is a huge contrast with the hashed attitude of the Pharisees.
Because the Pharisees and Jews in general (Matthew 11:21-24) rejected Jesus, Matthew started to introduce Jesus as the Savior of the gentiles, not just the Jews. Jesus is the gentle Savior for the gentiles was mentioned twice in this quote of Isaiah. “And He shall proclaim justice to the gentiles” (v18), “And in His name the gentiles will hope” (v21).
The Pharisees Rebuked Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebul
This story was also in Mark chapter 3 and Luke chapter 11.
The man was blind and mute because he was possessed by demon.
Jesus healed the demon possessed man and the crowds asked the question: “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” The Jews have been waiting for the Messiah, the anointed one, the Christ, who is the Son of David. On the passion week, Jesus asked the Pharisees this question: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” (Matthew 22:42). It is widely known in Jewish culture at Jesus’s time that the Christ will be a descendant of King David. Jesus was the Son of David is the main theme of Matthew.
The crowd did not want to believe Jesus is the Son of David even they witnessed the miracle performed by Jesus. They asked this question expecting a negative answer because they expect the Son of David as a warrior, a King that lead them to flight against the Romans. Instead Jesus is gentle, loving, carpenter from Nazarene.
The Pharisees did not want to believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of David neither. As soon as their heard the crowd said this, they accused Jesus casts out demons by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.
“References to the Spirit occur only twelve times altogether in Matthew’s gospel, with one-third of them in chapter 12. As might be expected in a gospel concerned to interpret the significance of the life and ministry of Jesus, most of the references describe the work of the Spirit in relation to Him.”
Some of the Pharisees could cast out demons as well.
Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit of God.
The strong man is Satan. The one who bind him and plunder his house is King Jesus. Satan had men under his possession, but King Jesus came to bind Satan and plunder his house to rescue mankind.
King Jesus eventually binds Satan for 1000 years (Rev 20:2).
Jesus is drawing a clear line: “He who is not with Me is against Me”. There is no middle ground, you are either for Jesus or against Jesus. Which side are you on?
When you do not believe in Jesus, your action also affects other: “he who does not gather with Me scatters”.
Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit – Unpardonable Sin
They are two parts on verse 31. The first part is the a great declaration of the effect of the redemption work of the Lord Jesus: “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men”!
“that all kind of sin, whether committed more immediately against God, or man, the first or second table of the law, or against any of the divine precepts; be they sins small or great, secret or open, sins of heart, lip, or life, or attended with whatsoever aggravating circumstances; and all kind of blasphemy, or evil speaking of men, or of angels, or of the name of God, but what is hereafter excepted, there is forgiveness of in the grace of God, through the blood of Christ, even for all sorts of men and sinners whatever.” (Gill)
The second part of verse 31 is one of the hardest verse to interpret in the bible: “… but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”
Many Christians are fearful that they have committed this sin. Just the fact that they are fearful and concerned is an great indication that they did not commit this sin.
The following are quotes from a few servants of the Lord on the interpretation of this verse:
Any sin can be forgiven, except the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which Jesus explains is to speaks against the Holy Spirit.
In the context of Matthew 12, we can explain that one can only commit this sin if he witnessed Jesus performed miracle like cast out demons but attributed that Jesus was depening on Satan instead of depending on Holy Spirit. (Constable)
He could pardon all sin; but to speak against and blaspheme the Holy Ghost (that is, to acknowledge the exercise of a power, which is that of God, and to attribute it to Satan) could not be pardoned; for the Pharisees admitted that the devil was cast out, and it was only with malice, with open-eyed deliberate hatred to God, that they attributed it to Satan. And what pardon could there be for this? There was none either in the age of the law (32) or in that of the Messiah. The fate of those who thus acted was decided. This the Lord would have them understand. (Darby)
not because the Holy Ghost is greater than Christ; or for want of efficacy in the blood of Christ; or because God cannot pardon it; but because such persons wilfully, maliciously, and obstinately oppose the Spirit of God, without whom there can be no application of pardon made; and remain in hardness of heart, are given up to a reprobate mind, and die in impenitence and unbelief, and so there is no forgiveness for them, (Gill)