St Matthew 12 Reflections

The Gospel According to St. Matthew: Matthew Chapter 12: Read Here: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/12?lang=eng

12 withered hand

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath

Although Jesus showed point-by-point that He is Lord of the Sabbath, and that it is given to Him to both eat of the field with His disciples and to heal on the Sabbath day, the Pharisees are quick to condemn Jesus: first, by holding counsel to see how they can destroy Him; later, they accused Him of being a devil; and then, they compounded their evil acts by seeking a sign from Him. (All of His teachings and healings were not signs enough for the Pharisees.)

Jesus’s disciples picked corn from a field to eat on the Sabbath Day. The Pharisees were quick to notice, because this was against the customs relating to The Law of Moses. They stated in judgment,

“Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:2).

‘But He said unto them,

“Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day”’ (vs 3-8).

Then Jesus, outside the synagogue, saw a man with a withered hand. Since it was the Sabbath day, He posed a question,  and then answered it Himself:

“Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?…

“What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep?

“Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days” (vs. 10-12).

‘Then saith he to the man,

“Stretch forth thine hand.”

‘And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other’ (vs. 13).

The Pharisees were upset that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, and they held a council to search out what they could do to destroy Jesus.

Further thoughts: Why did they want to destroy Him? Did they think Jesus was evil for doing miracles on His day? Did they not believe in Him or Who He was? Or did they envy His power, authority, and position? Did they not respect Jesus because He was young, or because His understanding was higher than theirs? Did they cleave to the old law, their law, which gave them power and authority over the people?

As the chapter continues, it still appears to be the Sabbath Day.

Jesus knew that the Pharisees sought to destroy Him, so He withdrew from there. But still, great multitudes followed after Him with their sick and afflicted, and He healed them all. He asked them not to make it known.

Further thought: Missionary work, serving our Heavenly Father, teaching the gospel, offering salvation, and healing the sick in body and spirit should never stop; and, it is especially fitting on the Sabbath Day, a day of worship, praise, and renewal.

In all these things, Isaiah’s prophecies were seeing their fulfillment in the ministry of Jesus Christ:

‘That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

“Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon Him, and He shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in His name shall the Gentiles trust”’ (vs. 17-21).

He then healed a man possessed of a devil, who was both blind and dumb; and then, he spoke and saw.

‘And all the people were amazed, and said,

“Is not this the son of David?”

‘But when the Pharisees heard it, they said,

“This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.”

‘And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them,

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I be Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad”’ (vs. 23-30).

The people who followed Jesus and saw His miracles believed in Him, and they hoped that He was their Messiah. Of course, the Pharisees again weren’t pleased and suggested that Jesus had cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of all devils.

Further thoughts: We can no more be for God and against Him at the same time than the Pharisees could be. Nor can we fight against Him and be on His side.

We can be forgiven of most sins, when we acknowledge our error, repent, seek forgiveness, and turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart. But if we blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, we cannot be forgiven of that. Even if we speak against Jesus we can be forgiven. But not so if we speak against the Holy Ghost; neither in this life or in the world to come. Why is that?

Further thought: A witness from the Holy Ghost goes beyond what we can hear or see with our natural senses. It is felt on a deeply spiritual level, as Spirit speaks to spirit.

Either something is good, or it isn’t. If Jesus was doing good works, then He is good and comes from God. We need to speak honestly.

Jesus called the Pharisees a generation of vipers.

He also tells us that we should watch the words which we speak, because we will be accountable for them. They will either justify or condemn us.

So after being reproved by the Lord, instead of acknowledging their errors, the Pharisees compounded their wrongs by asking a sign of Jesus. They wanted Him to prove who He was.

Jesus told them,

“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (vs. 39-40).

Further thought: Pray about Jesus being the Son of God; follow His commandments, and prove to yourself that they are good and bring you happiness. Do not get hung up with the record stating three days and three nights, when Jesus was resurrected on the third day after the second night. If we try to justify away the purity of the gospel because our mind notices a perceived discrepancy in a record, we will become as the Pharisees, and we will not be justified in forsaking Him. This is especially so if we have already received a witness that the gospel is true and that Jesus was and is the Son of God, and He is a God of miracles.

Jesus then told the Pharisees that Nineveh would rise in judgment against them; because, although it had been a wicked city, the people repented when Jonah taught,

“An behold, a greater than Jonas is here” (vs 41).

And another example,

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (vs. 42).

He also gave the example of a man whose house had been cleaned and swept, and he invited seven evil spirits to come dwell with him.

Further thought: Using The Law of Witnesses, Jesus showed the Pharisees that they were currently under condemnation and would remain so if they did not repent.

Then some approached Jesus saying that His mother and brethren wanted to speak with Him. He responded that all who do the will of His Father in heaven are His family: his brother, sister and mother.

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