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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 12

Verses 1-21

  1. Intro:
    1. Matthew’s Gospel flows logically from his theme...that Jesus is the Messiah of the OT.
      1. Ch’s 1,2 reported the birth of Jesus, and demonstrated its harmony with Old Testament messianic prophecy.
      2. Ch’s 3,4 affirmed Jesus’ full identity with humanity - and His victory over every human weakness. Surely this Person can lead us to victory too.
      3. Ch’s 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount, contained Jesus’ explanation of the lifestyle appropriate for those who choose to live in His kingdom.
      4. Ch’s 8-11 proved Jesus’ authority over all that binds human beings. And it also shows that in Jesus, authority is expressed through servanthood - in both Master and disciples.
      5. Now, in ch’s 12-15, we learn of the response of the nation to Jesus and His message. i.e. growing opposition, spearheaded by the Pharisees.
        1. This band of rigid and committed men were quick to see the great gap between Israel’s present lifestyle and Jesus’ kingdom truth.
        2. Paul described them in Rom.10:2,3 I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.
    2. Title: Sabbathtage [Sabotage comes from sabot (Fr. blend of savate/shoe and botte/boot.), so sabotage means to kick with sabots, wooden shoes] Here the Pharisees start kicking at Jesus’ & His disciples for breaking the sabbath.
  2. LORD OF THE SABBATH (1-8)
    1. Keeping the Sabbath was near the top of the list of Pharisaic virtues, but wasn’t keeping the Sabbath also important to Christ?
      1. Was Jesus throwing off the 4th commandment?
      2. The difference? The Pharisees, these Sabbatarians, enjoyed their own rigid definition & requirements. Jesus kept the Sabbath as was intended.
      3. Jesus was Jewish & honored the Law.
      4. The habit of Jesus was to observe the Sabbath as a day of worship in the synagogues.
        1. The Sabbath/rest was principally for worship, not just for rests sake.
      5. Jesus’ failure to comply with the minute restrictions of the Pharisaic observance brought conflict & confrontation.
    2. Let me unfold the problem:
      1. About 200 yrs before Christ, there arose what was known as The Great Synagogue. It took the 10 commandments & the whole Law of Moses & added interpretations.
        1. Not by teaching the inner spirit of them, but by adding to them other commandments.
        2. Example: The Great Synagogue had given 39 prohibitions to interpret the phrase thou shall do no manner of work.
        3. Those prohibitions were called Abhoth (fathers). Then they added Toldoth (descendants/i.e. descendants of Abhoth)
        4. 1 of the Abhoth prohibitions said, Reaping is work. Then the Toldoth (the rules to help you carry out the idea) it says, plucking the ear of wheat is equal to reaping, & rubbing in the hands is equal to threshing. [guilty of: reaping, gathering, threshing & winnowing]
        5. So, the disciples by doing this act were breaking Toldoth, & by breaking Toldoth they were breaking Abhoth, & by breaking Abhoth they were breaking the Law.
      2. This is what Jesus is constantly trampling over…human traditions. They usually start off w/good intentions but always end up missing the heart of God.
    3. He referred His critics to the example of David. When David was desperately hungry, he broke the law by eating the bread of the presence.
      1. The OT itself never interprets Sabbath Law to demand going hungry.
      2. If David could do this, how much more the Son of David?
      3. In the interest of survival David and his companions were allowed to be above the Law with the priest’s blessing.
      4. Christ and His companions were also above the man-made law which the Pharisees proclaimed.
        1. Thus [1] Circumstances justified practice [2] Larger obligations overruled lesser [3] Ceremonial observance is less important than meeting human needs.
      5. Wycliffe, “A merciful attitude toward the spiritually needy is far better than the mere formality of religious duties/sacrifices w/o concern for others.”
    4. (7) I want mercy and not sacrifice - Jesus quotes Hos 6:6 for a second time (9:13).
    5. In Hosea 6:4 God has divine doubts about their sincerity to follow Him.
      1. It was a shallow religious revival. Their loyalty drifted like a morning cloud, & dried up like the dew. Here one minute, gone the next.
    6. (6) Mercy/hesed 275 in OT - Means covenant, loyal, steadfast love. It is a steel-ribbed love
      1. “It’s your stubborn love that never lets go of me.” Kathy Troccoli’s song 1982
    7. This scripture must have been one of Jesus’ favorites. He quotes it 2 times & even adds a Go & learn this (Mt.9:13) & here if you only knew what this means (12:7).
    8. Mercy to the tax-collectors/sinners (Mt.9). Mercy to the hungry disciples (Mt.12).
    9. Key: The inner quality of Mercy is far more pleasing to God than the correct performance of rituals.
    10. (6b) And the knowledge of God - It’s not what you do or know, it’s who you know.
    11. The Pharisees tried to keep the Sabbath by restricting what a person could do on that day.
      1. How do we avoid this sterile approach to worship. Instead of what we don’t do, what do we do to make it a worshipful day/week/life?
      2. In what way are we guilty of phariseeism? Legalism misses His heart every time. His grace is still sufficient for us.
  3. HEALING ON THE SABBATH (9-14)
    1. Here Jesus teaches people’s needs trump legal observance.
    2. His actions provide an example of the Hosea passage He quoted in v.7.
    3. Other writings let us know he was not born with this, but some illness had taken the strength from him.
      1. We have a few fragments from The Gospel according to Hebrews (an Apocryphal NT book) [which were never deemed canon, but were quoted from the early church fathers] It said that this man was a stone mason & that he sought Jesus to heal him, for his livelihood was in his hands and he was ashamed to beg.
    4. The law of the day was that you couldn’t give medical attention on the Sabbath unless their life was in danger. [He obviously wasn’t]
    5. (10) Interesting, they just knew this man is who he would be attracted to. The one person that was hurting the most.
      1. They just knew He couldn’t pass up compassion. What an unconscious compliment to our Lord.
    6. I believe Jesus is saying here, you are either acting in some way for the person’s recovery, or you are acting for the perpetuation of his misery.
      1. May it be our new goal to never leave anyone how you found them.
      2. When we depart from them may their soul be lifted up, encouraged, or brought before the throne of God (in prayer).
    7. (11,12) Jesus, armed w/principles goes to the heart of the subject.
    8. Which principle do you live by? Do you live by the Pharisees principle Is it lawful, or Jesus’ principle Is it loving?
      1. Does it feel like compromise to ask is it loving? Does it feel more holy to ask Is it lawful?
      2. Does it feel wimpish to ask Is it loving? Do you feel more bold to ask Is it lawful?
    9. The Pharisees had transformed a day of blessing into a day of bondage. [It takes great skill to do]
      1. Original intent? To provide a day of rest for the children of Israel that would free the people from the tyranny of a life of unending toil.
        1. God gave it for the good of humanity.
      2. It was a principle that is far older than Judaism. It goes back to Genesis, to the 7th day in the creative process.
      3. But notice if man was made on the 6th day, than this was the 1st day of human existence. Thus, man’s 1st day, was his Sabbath day.
    10. Know it is always right to do good, & to meet human need, for love fulfills the law. Rom.13:8 he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
    11. Christ makes their intention public & whets expectation.
      1. Thus He heals him, relieving the man’s suffering & exposing the enemies nastiness.
    12. (12) Jesus argues that people’s needs outweigh the needs of animals, for whom their owners could do work on the Sabbath. If Jews were permitted to care for animals in extreme situations on the Sabbath, they should be allowed to do the same for people.
    13. (13) In Mark 3:3 Jesus had also asked him to step forward, lit. arise into the midst.
      1. Maybe to try to awaken, one last time, sympathy for this man.
      2. And probably to make sure everyone could see what was about to take place.
    14. (14) The 1st mention in Matthew that the Pharisees want to destroy Jesus.
      1. Now the Pharisees were more than critics...they were enemies.
    15. Their rigidity to keep the law actually led them to abuse it far worse then they even think Jesus did. (their rigidity led to hate & murder)
      1. Jesus was able to look behind the law to see how they were intended for our benefit.
      2. Their religion was loving ritual. Jesus’ religion was loving God & loving man.
      3. Jesus was people-centered. The Pharisees were law-centered.
    16. Ps: Jesus did 7 such miracles on the Sabbath so they’d get the point. In short, Sabbath is for man & Christ is Lord of both.
  4. MY SERVANT, MY BELOVED (15-21)
    1. ​​​​​​​In this brief passage, Matthew identifies Jesus as the servant of Isa 42. This is the longest fulfillment citation in the book.
    2. (20) Bruised reed He will not break - Emphasizes His kindness to the downtrodden/weak.
      1. What’s weaker than a bruised reed or a smoldering wick?
      2. NLT He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.
    3. Both examples, someone just barely bumps the reed that’s hanging on by a hair & it is dead, or the slightest breath on the failing wick & it’s extinguished.
    4. Weak things is Jesus’ focus. [some of God’s children are strong, Samson relocating the city’s gates. Benaiah who killed 2 lion-like heroes of Moab & killed a lion on a snowy day. But the majority of us are a timid, trembling people. We’re like the little shorebirds(Sanderlings) that easily spook playing tag with the waves.
    5. We are weak, feeble, frail, fragile creatures...YET weak as we are, we have Jesus’ promise...He will not break us nor put us out. Herein is grace & graciousness. Herein is love & lovingkindness. We never need to shrink back from His touch.
    6. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Cor.4:8,9

Verses 22-37

  1. Intro: The Source [where did Jesus get His power? His is disputed]
    1. The Pharisees heard the crowds speaking of Jesus in messianic terms (v.23 son of David), so they attempt to discredit His ministry.
      1. In return, Jesus accuses them of committing an unpardonable sin.
    2. So far, the Pharisees were willing to use a man with a withered hand to trap Jesus.
      1. They were totally unconcerned about his personal tragedy and his feelings. Jesus’ response, affirming God’s valuation of individuals (people more imp than sheep), showed their hardheartedness for what it was.
      2. In their pursuit of self-righteousness, the Pharisees had lost the deep concern for others that characterizes God. Their religious zeal had led them to become ungodly persons.
        1. With their ungodliness clearly revealed, in contrast to our Lord’s own compassion and love, the Pharisees had no choice. They had to either face their sinfulness and abandon the legalistic search for righteousness that had produced it, or to strike out against the One who pierced their pretensions and revealed their lack of love. They chose to strike out…
  2. THE FINGER OF GOD (22-29)
    1. (24) Beelzebul - a Philistine deity (Baal the prince, or ruler of the demons)
      1. Beelzebul (Lord of flies) Beelzebub (Lord of house, better trans here/context)
      2. 2 Kings 1:1-6 King Ahab died/Ahaziah succeeds/falls thru Latice/sent messengers to inquire to Baal-Zebub god of Ekron to see if he’d recover/ Elijah gives fate/3 groups of 50 (Baal-Zebub was credited with healing powers)
      3. So the Pharisees accuse Jesus under their breath of Running w/the Devil(VH/77)
    2. (28) By the Spirit of God - Luke uses with the finger of God (Lk.11:20). By using this synonymous term, Jesus says He is in league with the Holy Spirit of God.
      1. The finger of God...in Scripture is His direct & concrete intervention.
        1. The work of creation, even the heavens, are the work of God’s fingers (Ps.8:3)
        2. The tables of the law (Deut.9:10)
        3. The magicians of Pharaoh called Moses’s miracles, the finger of God (Ex.8:19)
        4. On the wall at Belshazzar’s feast (Dan.5)
        5. And of course Jesus writing in the dirt, exposing the hypocrites sins (Jn.8:8)
        6. And in Lk, Jesus’ casts out demons with the finger of God. [The Source]
    3. (29) Christ’s final argument is that He could never cast out the demons unless first He had overcome their leader, Satan...which He did in chapter 4.
      1. Therefore, one stronger than Satan must be reclaiming His property.
  3. GETTING TO THE ROOT OF FRUIT (30-37)
    1. (31) They claim that Jesus’ power comes from Satan rather than the HS. This blatant denial of the work & power of God constitutes blasphemy, & results in their condemnation
    2. Forgiveness will be withheld because they refuse to acknowledge that Jesus’ power comes from the Spirit. In doing so, they refuse to believe in the Forgiver, the only One who procures forgiveness for them.
    3. (32) Jesus understands how a person might not understand who He is, even though His works make His identity clear. However, God’s work through the Spirit is clear and evident; one who speaks against it does so knowingly. Such an act prevents forgiveness.
      1. Eg. To blaspheme or speak against the Son of Man seems to be to reject the claims of Jesus. Paul blasphemed the Son of Man prior to the Damascus road experience. He would have blasphemed the Spirit had he rejected the Damascus road experience.
    4. So what is this unpardonable sin? (Wiersbe's Expository Outlines of the NT)
      1. It is a sin of the heart, not the lips (34,35).
        1. The words from the lips are the evidence of the condition of the heart; and evil words indicate an evil heart.
      2. It is a sin committed in the light of great evidence.
        1. These men had seen Christ’s miracles and yet hardened their hearts against Him.
      3. It is the sin of willful, persistent unbelief & final rejection of Jesus Christ
        1. Adultery is not unpardonable (eg. woman caught in), nor is murder (eg. Moses/David). But when a person persists in rejecting Christ and comes to the place where his heart is so calloused he has no concern for his eternal destiny, then it is too late.
    5. (33) The Pharisees’ assessment of Jesus’ power reveals their true nature. Like the fruit of a tree, their actions indicate their evil intent.
    6. (33-35) The Tree is more the issue here, rather than the fruit. Because it’s the source from which the fruit comes.
      1. Jesus says look at the fruit of My ministry & see that it’s from a Good Tree (Me)
    7. (36,37) Words - The heart betrays itself thru the mouth. eg. That which is in the well comes up in the bucket.
    8. (34) We can hide our bitterness and lack of compassion. We can disguise hostility under a cloak of religiosity. We can even be rigorously separated from all sorts of cultural sins. But when our reactions and our words reveal a Pharisee-like contempt for men and women whom God loves, our ungodliness is revealed.
    9. Pharisees = Separate. The religious conservatives of the day. Sadducees - The religious liberals/rationalists of the day.
      1. These 2 groups were serpentine in their motives, viperish in their tempers, so he calls them brood of vipers, or offspring of snakes, baby rattlers.
    10. ​​​​​​​(37) Your words - Expresses a common teaching among 1st century rabbis that words, not simply deeds, vindicate or condemn a person before God.
    11. Well, this section has been all about the source of Jesus’ power.
      1. Let’s look at 1 last place, where Jesus proves his case, 5 ways
  4. 5 WITNESSES (Jn.5:31-47)
    1. 31 If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.
    2. Not that it’s false, but it wouldn’t be valid as testimony (needed 2/3, Deut 19:15)
      1. So how do you prove your case?...you need witnesses. [5 introduced 2 verify His claims]
      2. Imagine yourself, as a juror, & Jesus on trial as the defendant.
      3. Jesus, You can call Your 1st witness to the stand…
    3. 1ST WITNESS, GOD THE FATHER (32, 37,38)
    4. 32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true...37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.
      1. ​​​​​​​Another - another of the same kind. [allos] (14:16 send you another/H.S.)
        1. Heteros/eteros - another of a diff kind (eg. Paul speaking of another gospel in Gal.1:6,7)
    5. Bears witness - Gk. indicates continual action. The Father continues to testify to the claims of Christ.
      1. At Jesus Birth (the Father announced the arrival w/prophets, angels, & a star)
      2. At Jesus Baptism (the Father testified, This is my beloved Son...)
      3. And later in Jesus’ life (the Father reaffirms His own testimony at: the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion, the Res, & the Ascension)
    6. 2ND WITNESS, JOHN THE BAPTIST (33-35)
    7. 33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.
    8. Now John is called to the stand...aka, the burning & shining lamp.
      1. ​​​​​​​Heat in the heart; light in the mind. [Both, head & heart are needed]
      2. Jonathan Edwards from his Religious Affections: There must be light in the understanding as well as the fervency of heart, for if the heart has heat without light, there can be nothing divine or heavenly in that heart. On the other hand, where there is light without heat, such as stored with notions and speculations but having a cold & unaffected heart, there can be nothing divine in that either.
    9. (35b) They were willing to listen to John for a time - but then like moths flitting near a light bulb, these Jews had swarmed around John, until they got too close to the flame. Then, 1 by 1, they took flight. The light, they liked...it was the heat that drove them away.
    10. 3RD WITNESS, JESUS’ OWN WORKS (36)
    11. 36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me that the Father has sent Me
    12. The defense now moves from verbal to visual. Exhibit A.
      1. He’s already turned Cana well water into the finest of aged wines. Healed a gov official's son long-distance. And restored a paralytic. & there’s more to come…
        1. Like...feed 5000, walk on water. heal blind man. raise Lazarus from dead.
    13. 4TH WITNESS, THE SCRIPTURES (39-44)
    14. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?
    15. Search - to investigate. It corresponds to the Hebrew technical term used by the Rabbis for the study of the Scriptures.
    16. This answers the question...Is it possible to study the Bible w/o finding spiritual life?
      1. ​​​​​​​Answer, yes. What's lacking? Any who are not willing to come to Jesus for relationship.
      2. God’s word was not truly abiding in them & God’s Son was not the object of their faith.
    17. It’s easy to get caught up in the technical, peripheral, or superficial stuff.
      1. ​​​​​​​It’s easy for a Lawyer to become enamored w/the intricacies of the law & yet never develop a heart for justice.
      2. It’s easy for a Doctor to become swept up in the state-of-the-art medicine & machines & yet never develop a heart of compassion.
      3. It’s easy for the serious student of the Scriptures to become enraptured w/ exegesis instead of Jesus, carrying on a love affair w/the printed page rather than w/the person of Christ.
        1. (Swindoll) The Bible was given not simply as a legal document or self-help book but as a love letter. And if that letter doesn't draw us irresistibly to Jesus, then its possible that we, like the prosecutorial Jews, do not have His Word abiding in us.
    18. 5TH WITNESS, MOSES (45-47)
    19. 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you - Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
    20. Jesus now turns the courtroom tables & points His finger at His accusers (a legal technical term to bring charges in court)
      1. Jesus pulls His trump card, His ace from the deck of Jewish heroes...MOSES.
      2. Why Moses? 4 reasons One of the founding fathers of Judaism. He spearheaded the Exodus. He gave them the Law. He was looked up to w/reverence.
    21. THE VERDICT - The defense rests. As a member of the jury, you must deliberate. You must weigh the evidence. It’s a sobering decision. It’s quite literally a matter of life or death - your life or your death.

Verses 38-50

  1. Intro:
    1. Title: Space, Time & Grace. Outline: Resurrection. Reformation. Familial Clarification
    2. Three things covered in this last portion of ch.12.
      1. Some Pharisees wish to see a sign from Jesus to prove His authority. The only sign they will receive is Jesus’ resurrection, which He refers to metaphorically.
      2. Jesus describes the evil and adulterous generation in terms of a disembodied spirit who returns to its host with greater severity.
      3. Jesus’ direct opposition to the religious establishment of His day drew the attention and concern of His family. Jesus will then define His extended family as those who do the will of His heavenly Father.
  2. RESURRECTION (38-42)
    1. (38) We want a sign - What a slam. He had done so many. Some in front of their noses. To ask for a sign was evidence of unbelief.
    2. Resurrection, the 1 sign to be shown. Resurrection, the hinge on which our faith swings.
      1. If Love put Jesus on the cross on Friday. And Faith being the evidence of things not seen kept Him in the grave on Saturday. Then Hope is the full assurance of a Resurrected Jesus on Sun.
    3. Similarities to the prophet Jonah?
      1. Like Jonah they cast our Lord overboard.
      2. The sacrifice of Jonah calmed the sea for the mariners. Our Lord’s death made peace for us.
      3. Both were 3 days/3 nights in the heart/center of the earth.
      4. Jonah’s ministry was certified by his restoration from the sea, so is our Lord’s ministry attested by His rising from the dead.
      5. As Jonah came back from his burial out at sea & commanded the attention of all Nineveh; So does the risen Savior demand & deserve the obedient faith of all to whom His message comes.
      6. Jonah’s rescue from the great fish was a sign that the prophet and his message were from God. Similarly, the ultimate sign validating Jesus would be His triumph over death.
    4. (41) The Ninevites repented, while the Jews were hardened.
      1. These heathens perceived...what Israel did not understand.
      2. Rise up - These men of Nineveh were not dead in Jesus mind. He knew them & promised their part in the res. of the just, as swift witness against those who heard Jesus himself & yet refused His testimony.
    5. Greater than Jonah, How?
      1. In His person, Jonah was a mere man. In His Obedience. Jesus actually died. Jesus rose from His own power. Jonah only ministered to one city, while Jesus gave His life for the whole world. Jesus was greater in His Love, for Jonah did not love the people of Nineveh, he wanted them to die. Jonah’s message was one of wrath, Jesus message was of grace.
    6. So the resurrection is THE Sign...yet He supplements it w/one more.
    7. Sign #2 Wisdom (42)
    8. Sheba - SW Arabia, now Yemen.
      1. The Queen traveled over 1000 miles to hear Solomon’s wisdom. The Jews didn’t have to travel at all, He came to them, & they wouldn’t hear them.
        1. Therefore great will be their judgment when she will be raised as a witness against them.
    9. Jesus Greater than Solomon, How?
      1. Solomon had wisdom from God. Jesus is the Wisdom of God.
      2. Solomon was a great king. Jesus is the King of Kings.
        1. Jesus was greater in His wisdom, wealth, & works.
    10. Imagine sitting at Solomon’s table 2 Chron.9:3,4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 4 the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers and their apparel, and his entryway (Wilson’s Arch/Rabbi’s Tunnel) by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.
      1. Now, imagine sitting at Jesus’ table, hearing His wisdom, seeing His mansion, sharing of His blessings. NO COMPARISON.
    11. The Citizens of Nineveh will witness against the rulers of Israel, for they repented at Jonah’s preaching.
    12. The Queen of Sheba will also witness against them. She traveled a long distance to hear Sol.’s wisdom, yet the religious rulers rejected the wisdom of Christ who was in their very midst. [they repented...she heard]
      1. The greater the opportunity the greater the judgment.
  3. REFORMATION (43-45) Self-Reformation
    1. This man’s life was changed for the better; but his life was still empty.
      1. I remember my self-reformation right before I got saved. I quit smoking pot for a month. I felt better but still felt empty.
    2. The Pharisee’s were proud of their clean houses, but their heart’s were empty.
      1. Are you proud of how you’ve cleaned your house? Maybe you’ve started paying all your taxes, & stopped kicking your dog. Or maybe you stopped cutting people off on the freeway when they do it to you. Or maybe cut out most cuss words from your vocabulary. Congratulations...you’ll be the most moral person in hell.
      2. It is not enough to clean house, we must invite in the right tenant.
    3. I will return - See, the demon doesn’t mind leaving the madly immoral to become decent & orderly. Why? Because w/this self-clean-up-job comes self-pride, “look what I’ve done!”
      1. A good moral person can just as easy be his slave.
        1. The crafty spirit takes the key of the house w/him, for he means to return.
    4. Empty, swept, and put in order –
      1. Have you emptied yourself of a certain relationship that was pulling you down?
      2. Have you swept yourself clean of certain uglier sins?
      3. Have you put in order a certain set of new moralities to uphold?
        1. Augustine well said, Good works, as they are called, in sinners are nothing but splendid sin.
    5. See the problem was he was found empty - no one else had taken possession of it.
    6. (45) 1 + 7 others?...talk about 8 is enough, Wow!
    7. Mere religion, or reformation will not save...there must be regeneration, the receiving of Christ into the heart.
      1. Rebirth inwardly not Reform outwardly.
    8. Note: same subject, wicked generation (vs.39 adulterous gen).
  4. FAMILIAL CLARIFICATION (46-50) We Are Family
    1. ​​​​​​​His Earthly Family
    2. They intruded upon His Holy service, i.e. while He was still talking to the multitudes.
      1. ​​​​​​​Jesus is not negating the importance of the natural family, but He is emphasizing the greater importance of the spiritual family.
      2. Commitment to Jesus and His cause is a higher loyalty than familial loyalty.
      3. Never, never interfere with Supreme Matters. He must be about His Fathers business. You must be about your Fathers business & none should dissuade.
    3. Marks account same context 3:20,21, One time Jesus entered a house, & the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.
      1. ​​​​​​​His mother & brothers did love him, but they thought He was a little bit fanatical...kind of…well…crazy. Fixated w/faith...over-enthusiastic.
        1. I think His diagnosis today would be obsessive-compulsive.
      2. He is out of His mind, a Messiah complex!
      3. I believe this family intervention is what they really thought would be best for Him. He’s throwing away security & safety...we must take charge of him. A well-meaning, but mistaken action.
      4. They thought...This religious fervor was going to ruin His health.
        1. ​​​​​​​Jesus don’t you know, you could lose your life doing this.
        2. 1st He gave up a decent career in the carpentry union. Then, look at the posse He’s running with. We hear He sometimes stay up all night, w/no sleep. And, He seems to be given to extremes. It’s ok to be devout, but NOT fanatical!
      5. Ps: Jn.7:1-9 tells us that Jesus’ brothers were still not believing in Him, even later in His ministry.
    4. His Eternal Family
    5. All believers in Jesus are of the Royal Family.
    6. Note the Invitation again, Whoever!
    7. We say, “you can chose your friends, but you can’t chose your family.” Well the Lord did, He chose His family. He chose me.
      1. Are you a whoever who has received the Lord as Tenant of your house? And now as a result are doing the will of the Father?
    8. There are 3 things Jesus tips us off to in vss. 41,42,50. The Ninevites repented, the Queen heard the wisdom, & the eternal family does the will of God. Repent, hear, do.
    9. Family Perks: The Lord has provided for your needs. He has protected you from harm. He has adopted you. And He has given you His name.
    10. What happened to Jesus’ family?
      1. Then [the disciples] went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives...They all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers. Acts 1:12,14.
      2. What a change! The ones who mocked him now worship him. The ones who pitied him now pray for him.
      3. What if Jesus had disowned them? Or worse still, what if he’d suffocated his family with his demand for change? He didn’t. He instead gave them space, time, & grace(Title). And because he did, they changed. How much did they change?
        1. 1 brother became an apostle (Gal.1:19) & others became missionaries (1 Cor.9:5).
    11. Jesus wasn’t severing family ties.
      1. On the cross he was very concerned about His mother.
      2. Later, His ½ brother James would be the leader in the Jerusalem church. His ½ brother Jude would write his book.
      3. He meant, there is a deeper kinship than flesh & blood, a spiritual kinship which is characterized by obedience to the Father.
        1. ​​​​​​​Of course obedience doesn’t originate relationship w/God (faith does that) but obedience is a sign of it. (Kent Hughes)
      4. Jesus describes the New family, which is far superior to the human family… for it lasts longer (eternal); it’s stronger; it’s more
      5. satisfying.
        1. The highest relationships of life are spiritual, not physical.
        2. You’ve witnessed this. You meet someone, you find out they are born-again. You talk about Christ, ministry, His love. And you sense that warm wonderful feeling of family.
        3. Do you have more in common with your spiritual family than w/your earthly family?
      6. Will you humble yourself and come and sit as Jesus feet?
        1. Isn’t that a whole lot better than,“try harder; do more; stop that; you don’t measure up; do it better.”
        2. Isn’t it a whole lot better to hear, “Believe in Jesus Christ; just sit at His feet; learn of Him; take Him for who He is; accept His ministry…& you will become an Insider.”
          1. ​​​​​​​Picture Jesus saying this adage, “One door & only one, yet its sides are two; I am on the Inside on which side are you?”
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Matthew 12". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/matthew-12.html. 2017.