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Bible Commentaries

The Fourfold Gospel

Matthew 12

Verses 1-8


XXXVIII.
JESUS DEFENDS DISCIPLES WHO PLUCK GRAIN
ON THE SABBATH.
(Probably while on the way from Jerusalem to Galilee.)
aMATT. XII. 1-8; bMARK II. 23-28; cLUKE VI. 1-5.

b23 And c1 Now it came to pass a1 At that season bthat he aJesus went {bwas going} on the {ca} bsabbath day through the grainfields; aand his disciples were hungry and began bas they went, to pluck the ears. aand to eat, cand his disciples plucked the ears, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. [This lesson fits in chronological order with the last, if the Bethesda events took place at Passover. The paschal lamb was eaten on the fourteenth Nisan, or about the first of April. Clark fixes the exact date as the 29th of March, in A. D. 28, which is the beginning of the harvest season. Barley ripens in the Jordan valley about the 1st of April, but on the uplands it is reaped as late as May. Wheat ripens from one to three weeks later than barley, and upland wheat (and Palestine has many [209] mountain plateaus) is often harvested in June. If Scaliger is right, as most critics think he is, in fixing this sabbath as the first after the Passover, it is probable that it was barley which the disciples ate. Barley bread was and is a common food, and it is common to chew the grains of both it and wheat.] c2 But {b24 And} ccertain of the Pharisees awhen they saw it, said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath. bwhy do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? cWhy do ye that which it is not lawful to do on the sabbath day? [The Pharisees did not object to the act of taking the grain. Such plucking of the grain was allowed by the law ( Deuteronomy 23:25) and is still practiced by hungry travelers in Palestine, which is, and has always been, an unfenced land, the roads, or rather narrow paths, of which lead through the grainfields, so that the grain is in easy reach of the passer-by. The Pharisees objected to the plucking of grain because they considered it a kind of reaping, and therefore working on the sabbath day. The scene shows the sinlessness of Jesus in strong light. Every slightest act of his was submitted to a microscopic scrutiny.] a3 But {b25 And} cJesus answering them asaid unto them, Have ye not read {bDid ye never read} ceven this [There is a touch of irony here. The Pharisees prided themselves upon their knowledge of Scriptures, but they had not read (so as to understand them) even its most common incidents], what David did, bwhen he had need, and was hungry, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he entered into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, cand took and ate the showbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat {awhich it was not lawful for him to eat,} neither for them that were with him, but only {csave} for the priests alone? [Jesus here refers to the incident recorded at 1 Samuel 21:1-6. Ahimelech and Abiathar have been confused by transcribers. It should read Ahimelech. However, we are not referred to the actions of Abiathar, but to those of [210] David. He went with his followers to the tabernacle at Nob near Jerusalem, and being hungry, asked bread of the priests. There was no bread at hand save the showbread. This bread was called showbread because it was "set out" or "exhibited" before Jehovah. It consisted of twelve loaves, which were baked upon the sabbath, and were placed, hot, in two rows upon the showbread table every sabbath day. The twelve old loaves which were then removed were to be eaten by the priests and no one else ( Leviticus 24:5-9). It was these twelve old loaves which were given to David ( 1 Samuel 21:6). Since the showbread was baked on the sabbath, the law itself ordered work on that day. The vast majority of commentators look upon this passage as teaching that necessity abrogates what they are pleased to call the ceremonial laws of God. Disregarding the so-called ceremonial laws of God is a very dangerous business, as is witnessed by the case of Uzzah ( 2 Samuel 6:6, 2 Samuel 6:7), and Uzziah ( 2 Chronicles 26:16-23). Christ never did it, and strenuously warned those who followed the example of the scribes and Pharisees in teaching such a doctrine ( Matthew 5:17-20). The law of necessity was not urged by him as a justifiable excuse for making bread during the forty days’ fast of the temptation. Life is not higher than law. "All that a man hath will he give for his life," is Satan’s doctrine, not Christ’s ( Job 2:4). The real meaning, as we understand it, will be developed below in our treatment of Numbers 28:9), and two lambs were killed on the sabbath in addition to the daily [211] sacrifice. This involved the killing, skinning, and cleaning of the animals, and the building of the fire to consume the sacrifice. They also trimmed the gold lamps, burned incense, and performed various other duties. The profanation of the Sabbath, however, was not real, but merely apparent. Jesus cites this priestly work to prove that the Sabbath prohibition was not universal, and hence might not include what the disciples had done. The fourth commandment did not forbid work absolutely, but labor for worldly gain. Activity in the work of God was both allowed and commanded.] 6 But I say [asserting his own authority] unto you, that one greater than the temple is here. [The word "greater" is in the neuter gender, and the literal meaning is therefore "a greater thing than the temple." The contrast may be between the service of the temple and the service of Christ, or it may be a contrast between the divinity, sacredness, or divine atmosphere which hallowed the temple, and the divinity or Godhead of Christ. But, however we take it, the meaning is ultimately a contrast between Christ and the temple, similar to the contrast between himself and Solomon, etc. ( Matthew 12:41, Matthew 12:42). It was a startling saying as it fell on Jewish ears, for to them the temple at Jerusalem was the place honored by the very Shekinah of the unseen God, and the only place of effective worship and atonement. If the temple service justified the priests in working upon the Sabbath day, much more did the service of Jesus, who was not only the God of the temple, but was himself the true temple, of which the other was merely the symbol, justify these disciples in doing that which was not legally, but merely traditionally, unlawful. Jesus here indirectly anticipates the priesthood of his disciples-- 1 Peter 2:5.] 7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. [This passage is quoted from Hosea 6:6, and is reiterated at Matthew 9:13. It is an assertion of the superiority of inward life over outward form, for the form is nothing if the heart is wrong. The saying is first suggested by David himself ( Psalms 51:16, Psalms 51:17), [212] after which it is stated by Hosea and amplified by Paul ( 1 Corinthians 13:3). The quotation has a double reference both to David and the disciples as above indicated. Having given the incident in the life of David, Jesus passes on from it without comment, that he may lay down by another example the principle which justified it. This principle we have just treated, and we may state it thus: A higher law, where it conflicts with a lower one, suspends or limits the lower one at the point of conflict. Thus the higher laws of worship in the temple suspended the lower law of sabbath observance, and thus also the higher law of mercy suspended the lower law as to the showbread when David took it and mercifully gave it to his hungry followers, and when God in mercy permitted this to be done. And thus, had they done what was otherwise unlawful, the disciples would have been justified in eating by the higher law of Christ’s service. And thus also would Christ have been justified in permitting them to eat by the law of mercy, which was superior to that which rendered the seventh day to God as a sacrifice.] 8 For the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath. b27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 so that the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath. [The expression "Son of man" is used eighty-eight times in the New Testament, and always means the Messiah, and not man generally. The Sabbath was made for man’s convenience and blessing, and so Jesus, who was complete and perfect manhood, was Lord of it. But men who were incomplete and imperfect in their manhood, can not trust their fallible judgment to tamper with it. Though the day was made for man, this fact would not entitle man to use it contrary to the laws under which it was granted. As Lord of the day Jesus had a right to interpret it and to apply it, and to substitute the Lord’s day for it. In asserting his Lordship over it, Jesus takes the question outside the range of argument and brings it within the range of authority.] [213]

[FFG 209-213]


Verses 9-14


XXXIX.
JESUS DEFENDS HEALING A WITHERED HAND
ON THE SABBATH.
(Probably Galilee.)
aMATT. XII. 9-14; bMARK III. 1-6; cLUKE VI. 6-11.

a9 And he departed thence. [The word here points to a journey as in Matthew 11:1, Matthew 15:29, which are the only places where Matthew uses this expression. Greswell may be right in thinking that it indicates the return back to Galilee from the Passover, since a cognate expression used by John expresses such a journey from Galilee to Judæa. See John 7:3], c6 And it came to pass on another sabbath [another sabbath than that on which the disciples plucked the grain], that he entered bagain aand went into their {cthe} synagogue and taught [The use of the pronoun "their" indicates that the synagogue in question was under the control of the same Pharisee who had caviled about plucking grain on the Sabbath. Where the synagogue was is not known. Some argue that from the presence of Herodians it was at Sepphoris, which was then capital of Herod Antipas. But Herodians were likely to be found everywhere.]: a10 and behold, bthere was a man who had {a having} a {bhis} hand withered. cand his right hand was withered. [The hand had dried up from insufficient absorption of nutriment, until its power was gone, and there was no remedy known by which it could be restored.] b2 And they cthe scribes and the Pharisees watched him, bwhether he would heal him on the sabbath day; cthat they might find how to accuse him. [They sought to accuse him before the local judges or officers of the synagogue; i. e., before a body of which they themselves were members. Jesus gave them abundant opportunity for such accusation, for we have seven recorded [214] instances of cures on the sabbath day; viz.: Mark 1:21, Mark 1:29, John 5:9, John 9:14, Luke 13:14, Luke 14:2, and this case.] aAnd they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? [They were afraid that Jesus might not notice the man, so they spoke about him. But, taught by their experience in the grainfield, they changed their bold assertion, "It is not lawful," and approached the subject with a guarded question, hoping to get an answer that could be used as a ground for accusation.] c8 But he knew their thoughts [omnisciently]; and he said to {bsaith unto} the man that had his hand withered, cRise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. [Jesus thus placed the man openly before all the people, as though he stood on trial as to his right to be healed on the sabbath day.] a11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be of you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? 12 How much then is a man of more value than a sheep! [A man who had but one sheep would set a high value upon it. But the most valuable sheep is not to be weighed in the balance against a man. The fact that Jesus used this illustration shows clearly that such an action was allowed at that time, though the rabbins forbade it afterward.] Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath day. c9 And Jesus aid {bsaith} unto them, cI ask you, Is it lawful on the sabbath bday to do good, or to do harm? to save life, or to kill? {cdestroy it?} [The rules of the Pharisees made the Sabbath question wholly a matter of doing or of not doing. But Jesus made it a question of doing good, and his question implies that a failure to do good, when one is able, is harmful and sinful. "The ability," says Cotton Mather, "to do good imposes an obligation to do it." To refrain from healing in such an instance would have been to abstain from using a power given him for that very purpose. The Jews held it lawful to defend themselves on the Sabbath, and considered themselves justified in killing their enemies if they [215] attacked on that day (I Macc. ii. 41; Josephus Ant. XII. vi. 2]. bBut they held their peace. [afraid to say that Jesus was wrong and stubbornly unwilling to admit that he was right.] 5 And when he had looked round about on them call, bwith anger, being grieved at the hardening of their heart [The anger of Jesus was not a spiteful, revengeful passion, but a just indignation ( Ephesians 4:26). God may love the sinner, but he is angry at sin. Anger is not sin, but it is apt to run into it: hence it is a dangerous passion. Righteous anger rises from the love of God and man, but that which rises from self-love is sinful], he saith {csaid} a13 Then cunto him, bthe man, Stretch forth thy hand. cAnd he did so: ahe stretched it forth; and it bhis hand was restored. awhole, as the other. [As Jesus here healed without any word or action of healing, merely ordering the man to stretch forth his hand, the Pharisees could find no legal ground for accusation. God can not be tried by man, because his ways are hidden from the senses of man save as he chooses to reveal them.] c11 But they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. b6 And the Pharisees went out, and straightway with the Herodians took counsel against him, how they might destroy him. [Here the three Synoptists first tell of the counsel to put Jesus to death, and we should note that, like John, they described the anger of the Jewish rulers as arising because of this Sabbath question. Their real motive was envious hatred, but their pretext was a zeal for the law. That it was not genuine zeal for the law is shown by the fact that they consulted with the Herodians or the adherents of Herod Antipas, as they also did afterwards ( Matthew 22:16, Mark 12:13). They needed the secular power of the Herodians to secure the death of Jesus. Its efficiency for such ends had just been shown in the imprisonment of John the Baptist. But the Herodians were no friends of the Jewish law; in fact, they were real perverters of that law which Jesus merely correctly interpreted. This party and its predecessors had [216] flatteringly tried to make a Messiah of Herod the Great, and had been friends of Rome and patrons of Gentile influence. They favored the erection of temples for idolatrous ends, and pagan theaters and games, and Gentile customs generally. Unlike Jesus, the Pharisees grew angry and sinned, for it was against their conscience to consort with the Herodians.]

[FFG 214-217]

Verses 15-21


XL.
JESUS HEALS MULTITUDES BESIDE THE
SEA OF GALILEE.
aMATT. XII. 15-21; bMARK III. 7-12.

a15 And Jesus perceiving it withdrew bwith his disciples afrom thence: bto the sea [This was the first withdrawal of Jesus for the avowed purpose of self-preservation. After this we find Jesus constantly retiring to avoid the plots of his enemies. The Sea of Galilee, with its boats and its shores touching different jurisdictions, formed a convenient and fairly safe retreat]: aand many followed him; band a great multitude from Galilee followed; and from Judæa, 8 and from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and beyond the Jordan, and about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, hearing what great things he did, came unto him. [Idumæa was the land formerly inhabited by the Edomites. It is a Greek word from "Edom," which was another word for Esau ( Genesis 25:30), and means red. This land was originally the narrow strip reaching from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, lying between the Arabah on the west, and the desert on the east, being about one hundred miles long and fifteen or twenty broad. During the Babylonian captivity, however, the Edomites took possession of the southern portion of Judæa, and Strabo says that they encroached as far as to the city of Hebron. They were conquered by John Hyrcanus, one of the Asmonæan princes about 120 B. C., and were by him made subservient to the law and incorporated with the Jewish people. As before [217] noted, Herod the Great sprang from this people. Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean seacoast, westward from the Lake of Galilee.] aand he healed them all, 16 and charged them that they should not make him known: 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet [ Isaiah 42:1-4. Partly taken from the LXX and part an original translation], saying, 18 Behold, my servant whom I have chosen; My beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, And he shall declare judgment to the Gentiles. [The word translated "servant," means also son, but it is rightly translated "servant" here, for the Father uses another word when he would designate Jesus as specifically his Son ( Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5). Jesus was a servant in form ( Philippians 2:7), and in obedience ( Hebrews 10:9). The word "judgment," as used in the Old Testament, from which it is here translated, means rule, doctrine, truth. It is usually here understood as meaning that Jesus would reveal the gospel or the full truth of the new dispensation to the Gentiles.] 19 He shall not strive, nor cry aloud; Neither shall any one hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, Till he send forth judgment unto victory. [These two verses find their fulfillment in the events of this paragraph. Jesus did not strive nor quarrel with the Pharisees, but having victoriously put them to silence, he meekly and quietly withdrew from their presence, and the healing of the multitudes which followed him as aptly fulfilled the prediction about the reed and the flax, for these two words, symbolic of weakness ( Isaiah 36:6) and patience-trying annoyance ( Proverbs 10:26), fitly represented the sick and lame and blind--sinners who, by affliction, had been made contrite and poor in spirit, remorseful and repentant, and who were brought to Jesus to be healed. If the hollow cylinder of the reed is bruised, its strength is gone, and it is no longer able to stand erect. Flax was then used where we now use cotton, as wicking for lamps. Imperfection in the fiber of it would cause it to smoke. A violent [218] man, irritated by the fumes of the smoking wick, would put it out, and cast it from him. But the Lord’s servant would patiently fan it to flames. The statement that he would not break these bruised reeds, nor quench this smoking flax, was an emphatic declaration, by contrast, that he would heal their bruises and fan their dying energies and resolutions into a flame, until he sent forth judgment unto victory; i. e., until the gospel--the authoritative announcement of the divine purpose or will--shall be sent forth and advanced to its final triumph. Christ shall show patient mercy and forbearance until the gospel shall practically exclude the need of it, by triumphing over Jewish opposition and Gentile impiety so as to bring about universal righteousness.] 21 And in his name shall the Gentiles hope. [This verse sets forth the breadth of Christ’s conquest over all nations. It reaches beyond our times into a future which is yet to be. But it was partially fulfilled by the presence of Idumæans and citizens of Tyre and Sidon in the multitudes which Jesus healed--unless we say that only Jews from these quarters are meant, which is not likely.] b9 And he spake to his disciples, that a little boat should wait on him because of the crowd, lest they should throng him: 10 for he had healed many; insomuch that as many as plagues pressed upon him that they might touch him. [Literally, they "fell upon him;" such was their eagerness to be healed by touching him.] 11 And unclean spirits, whensoever they beheld him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. 12 And he charged them much that they should not make him known. [Because this was not the right time, nor were they the right witnesses to make him known.] [219]

[FFG 217-219]

Verses 20-200


LIV.
THE FIRST GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES.
(Beside the Sea of Galilee.)
Subdivision B.
PARABLE OF THE SOWER.
aMATT. XIII. 3-23; bMARK IV. 3-25; cLUKE VIII. 5-18.

aBehold, c5 The sower went forth to sow his seed [Orientals live in cities and towns. Isolated farmhouses are practically unknown. A farmer may therefore live several miles from his field, in which case he literally "goes forth" to it]: b4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some seed {aseeds} fell by the way side, cand it was trodden under foot, and the birds of heaven acame and cdevoured it up. {athem:} [Palestine is an unfenced land, and the roads or paths lead through the fields. They are usually trodden hard by centuries of use. Grain falling on them could not take root. Its fate was either to be crushed by some foot, or to be carried off by some bird.] b5 And other {aothers} fell upon the rocky places, con the rock; bwhere it {athey} bhad not much earth; and straightway it {athey} bsprang up, because it {athey} bhad no deepness of earth: 6 and when the sun was risen, it was {athey were} bscorched; and because it {athey} bhad no root, it {athey} withered away. cand as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture. [This seed fell upon a ledge of rock covered with a very thin coating of soil. Its roots were prevented by the rock from striking down to the moisture, and so under the blazing Syrian sun it died ere it had well begun to live.] b7 And other {aothers} bfell among {aupon camidst} bthe thorns, and the thorns grew up, cwith it, band [329] choked it, {athem:} band it yielded no fruit. [Palestine abounds in thorns. Celsius describes sixteen varieties of thorny plants. Porter tells us that in the Plain of Gennesaret thistles grow so tall and rank that a horse can not push through them.] 8 And others {cother} bfell into {aupon} bthe good ground, cand grew, and brought forth a hundredfold, band yielded fruit, growing up and increasing; and brought forth, thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold. {asome a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.} [Thirty-fold is a good crop in Palestine, but it is asserted that a hundred-fold has been reaped in the Plain of Esdraelon even in recent years. These four several conditions of soil may be readily found lying close to each other in the Plain of Gennesaret. A sowing like this described may have been enacted before the eyes of the people even while Jesus was speaking.] cAs he said these things, he cried [a method of emphasis rarely employed by Jesus], b9 And he said, a9 He that {bWho} hath ears to hear, let him hear. [A saying often used by Jesus. He intended it to prevent the people from regarding the parable as merely a beautiful description. It warned them of a meaning beneath the surface, and incited them to seek for it.] 10 And when he was alone [that is, after he had finished speaking all the parables. The explanation of the parable is put next to the parable to aid us in understanding it], athe disciples came, bthey that were about him with the twelve c9 and his disciples basked him of the parables. cwhat this parable might be. aand said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? [Their questions show that as yet parables were unusual.] 11 And he answered and said unto them, Unto you is given to know the mysteries {bis given the mystery} aof the kingdom of heaven, {bof God:} abut to them cthe rest ait is not given. [save] cin parables; bunto them that are without, all things are done in parables. [Jesus adapted his lessons to the condition of his pupils; hence his disciples might know what the multitude must not yet know ( 1 Corinthians 2:6-11). [330] Jesus already drew a line of demarcation between disciples and unbelievers; which line became more marked and visible after the church was organized at Pentecost. The word "mystery" in current language means that which is not understood; but as used in the Scriptures it means that which is not understood because it has not been revealed, but which is plain as soon as revealed. Bible mysteries are not unraveled by science, but are unfolded by revelation-- Colossians 1:26, 1 Timothy 3:16, Matthew 11:25, Matthew 11:26, Revelation 17:5, Daniel 2:47.] a12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. [To understand this saying, we must remember that it was the teaching of Jesus which was under discussion. In the beginning of his ministry Jesus taught plainly, and all his hearers had equal opportunity to know his doctrine and believe in him. But from now on his teaching would be largely veiled in parables. These parables would enrich their knowledge and understanding of the believers; but they would add nothing to the store of unbelievers, and their efforts to understand the parables would withdraw their minds from the truths which they had already learned, so that they would either forget them or fail to profit by them. If we improve our opportunities, they bring us to other and higher ones; but if we neglect them, even the initial opportunities are taken away.] 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: b12 that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; {cthat seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.} abecause seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. blest haply they should turn again, and it should be forgiven them. a14 And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah [ Isaiah 6:9, Isaiah 6:10], which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing. [331] And their eyes they have closed; Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, and I should heal them. [The language here is an elaboration of the thoughts contained in the Matthew 13:12. The people saw Christ’s miracles, but not in their true light; they heard his words, but not in their true meaning. Jesus could thus teach without hindrance, but, unfortunately for the unbelieving, they were hearing without obtaining any blessing. In the original passage which Matthew quotes, Isaiah is apparently commanded to harden the hearts of the people. If read superficially, it might seem that God desired to harden their hearts. The true meaning is that God commanded Isaiah to teach, even though the people, by hardening themselves against his teaching, should be made worse rather than better by it. Thus, though rebellious, Israel might not be blessed by Isaiah’s teaching; they might, by their example, waken a wholesome fear in their posterity, and cause it to avoid like a sin.] 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. [Jesus here addresses his disciples, who were a cheering contrast to the unbelievers.] 17 For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not. [Our Lord here gives us a glance into the very hearts of the prophets, and reveals to us their desire to be witnesses of Messiah’s ministry. But knowing they were not to see their visions realized, they contented themselves with trying to understand the full meaning of their visions, that they might anticipate the days which were to come-- 1 Peter 1:10-12.] b13 And he saith unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how shall ye know all the parables? [This is a concession rather than a reproof. Parables could not be understood without a key; but a few examples of parables explained would furnish such a key.] a18 Hear then ye the parable of the sower. c11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of [332] God. b14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these {cthose} bby the way side, where the word is sown; aare they that have heard; band when they have heard,; cthen bstraightway cometh Satan, cthe devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, bwhich hath been sown in them. cthat they may not believe and be saved. a19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the evil one, and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in his heart. This is he that was sown by the way side. [The four soils are four hearts into which truth is sown. The first heart, represented by the wayside, is one which is too hardened for the Word to make any impression. It represents several classes of people, as: 1. Those whose hearts have been made insensible by the routine of meaningless rites and lifeless formalities. 2. Those who had deadened their sensibilities by perversity and indifference. 3. Those whose hearts were hardened by the constant march and countermarch of evil thoughts. God’s word lies on the surface of such hearts, and Satan can use any insignificant or innocent passing thoughts as a bird to carry out of their minds anything which they may have heard. The preacher’s voice has scarcely died away until some idle criticism of him or some careless bit of gossip about a neighbor causes them to forget the sermon.] b16 And these {cthose} bin like manner are they that are sown upon the rocky places, {crock} bwho, when they have heard the word, straightway receive it {cthe word} with joy; b17 and they {cthese} bhave no root in themselves, but endure {cwho believe} for a while; bthen, when affliction or persecution ariseth because of the word, straightway they stumble. cand in time of temptation fall away. a20 And he that was sown upon the rocky places, this is he that heareth the word, and straightway with joy receiveth it; 21 yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; and when tribulation or persecution ariseth because [333] of the word, straightway he stumbleth. [This shallow, rock-covered soil represents those who are deficient in tenacity of purpose. Those who receive the word, but whose impulsive, shallow nature does not retain it, and whose enthusiasm was as short-lived as it was vigorous. Any opposition, slight or severe, makes them partial or total apostates. As sunlight strengthens the healthy plant, but withers the sickly, ill-rooted one, so tribulation establishes real faith, but destroys its counterfeit.] b18 And others are they that are sown {cwhich fell} among the thorns, these are they that have heard, bthe word, cand as they go on their way bthe cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. cthey are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. a22 And he that was sown among the thorns, this is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choked the word, and he becometh unfruitful. [This third class represents those who begin well, but afterwards permit worldly cares to gain the mastery. These to-day outnumber all other classes, and perhaps they have always been so.] b20 And those are they that were sown upon {c15 And that in} the good ground; these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard {bhear} cthe word, hold it fast, band accept it, and bear cand bring forth fruit with patience. bthirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold. a23 And he that was sown upon the good ground, this is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; who verily beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. [Christianity requires three things: a sower, good seed or a pure gospel, and an honest hearer. All hearers are not equal in faithfulness. But we are not to take it that the diversity is limited to the three rates or proportions specified. Of the four hearts indicated, the first one hears, but heeds nothing; the second one heeds, but is checked by [334] external influences; the third heeds, but is choked by internal influences; the fourth heeds and holds fast until the harvest. Gallio exemplifies the first ( Acts 18:17). Peter and Mark for a time exemplified the second ( Mark 14:66-72, Acts 12:25, Acts 13:13, Acts 15:37-39). The rich ruler and Demas represent the third ( Matthew 19:22, 2 Timothy 4:10), as does also Judas Iscariot. Cornelius and the Beræans ( Acts 10:33, Acts 17:11) show us examples of the fourth.] b21 And he said unto them, Is the lamp brought to be put under the bushel, or under a bed, and not to be put on the stand? c16 No man, when he hath lighted a lamp, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but putteth it on a stand, that they which enter in may see the light. [A passage similar to this is found at Matthew 5:15. See page 235.] b22 For there is nothing hid, save that it should be manifested; {cthat shall not be made manifest;} bneither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light. {cthat shall not be known and come to light.} b23 If any man hath ears to hear, let him hear. [This passage is often taken to indicate the exposure of all things on the day of judgment. While all things shall be revealed at the judgment, this passage does not refer to that fact. Jesus did not come to put his light under a bushel; that is, to hide his teaching. All inner instruction and private information was but temporary. Our Lord’s design was to reveal, not conceal. What was now concealed was only to keep back that in the end it might be more fully known. Jesus covered his light as one might shelter a candle with his hand until the flame has fully caught hold of the wick.] 24 And he said unto them, cTake heed therefore how {bwhat} ye hear: with what measure ye mete it shall be measured unto you; and more shall be given unto you. cfor whosoever {bhe that} hath, to him shall be given: cand whosoever {bhe that} hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. {cwhich he thinketh he hath.} [Most of this passage has been explained just [335] above. See page 331. It warns us as to what we hear--things carnal or spiritual--and how we hear them, whether carefully or carelessly. As we measure attention unto the Lord, he measures back knowledge to us.]

[FFG 329-336]

Verses 22-37


XLVIII.
BLASPHEMOUS ACCUSATIONS OF THE JEWS.
(Galilee.)
aMATT. XII. 22-37; bMARK III. 19-30; cLUKE XI. 14-23.

b19 And he cometh into a house. [Whose house is not stated.] 20 And the multitude cometh together again [as on a previous occasion-- Mark 2:1], so that they could not so much as eat bread. [They could not sit down to a regular meal. A wonderful picture of the intense importunity of people and the corresponding eagerness of Jesus, who was as willing to do as they were to have done.] 21 And when his friends heard it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. [These friends were his brothers and his mother, as appears from Mark 3:31, Mark 3:32. They probably came from Nazareth. To understand their feelings, we must bear in mind their want of [298] faith. See John 7:3-9. They regarded Jesus as carried away by his religious enthusiasm ( Acts 26:24, 2 Corinthians 5:13), and thought that he acted with reckless regard for his personal safety. They foresaw the conflict with the military authorities and the religious leaders into which the present course of Jesus was leading, and were satisfied that the case called for their interference. Despite her knowledge as to Jesus, Mary sympathized with her sons in this movement, and feared for the safety of Jesus.] a22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a demon, blind and dumb: {c14 And he was casting out a demon that was dumb.} aand he healed him, insomuch that cit came to pass, when the demon was gone out, athe dumb man spake and saw. [The man was brought because he could not come alone. While Luke does not mention the blindness, the similarity of the narratives makes it most likely that he is describing the same circumstances as Matthew and Mark, so we have combined the three accounts.] 23 And all the multitudes cmarvelled. awere amazed, and said, Can this be the son of David? [It was a time for amazement, for Jesus had performed a triple if not a quadruple miracle, restoring liberty, hearing and sight, and granting the power of speech. It wakened the hope that Jesus might be the Messiah, the son of David, but their hope is expressed in the most cautious manner, not only being stated as a question, but as a question which expects a negative answer. The question, however, was well calculated to arouse the envious opposition of the Pharisees.] c15 But some of them said [that is, some of the multitude. Who these "some" were is revealed by Matthew and Mark, thus:], a24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they b22 and the scribes that came down from Jerusalem said, aThis man doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub the prince of the demons. bHe hath Beelzebub, and, By the prince of the demons casteth he out the demons. [Beelzebub is a corruption of Baalzebub, the god of the fly. There was a tendency among the heathen to name [299] their gods after the pests which they were supposed to avert. Thus Zeus was called Apomuios (Averter of flies), and Apollo Ipuktonos (Slayer of vermin). How Beelzebub became identified with Satan in the Jewish mind is not known. In opposing the influence of Jesus and corrupting the public mind, these Pharisees showed a cunning worthy of the cultivated atmosphere, the seat of learning whence they came. Being unable to deny that a miracle was wrought (for Celsus in the second century is the first recorded person who had the temerity to do such a thing), they sought to so explain it as to reverse its potency, making it an evidence of diabolical rather than divine power. Their explanation was cleverly plausible, for there were at least two powers by which demons might be cast out, as both were invisible, it might appear impossible to decide whether it was done in this instance by the power of God or of Satan. It was an explanation very difficult to disprove, and Jesus himself considered it worthy of the very thorough reply which follows.] c16 And others, trying him, sought of him a sign from heaven. [These probably felt that the criticisms of the Pharisees were unjust, and wished that Jesus might put them to silence by showing some great sign, such as the pillar of cloud which sanctioned the guidance of Moses, or the descending fire which vindicated Elijah.] b23 And he called them unto him [thus singling out his accusers], a25 And {c17 But} aknowing their thoughts he said unto them, bin parables [We shall find that Jesus later replied to those who sought a sign. He here answers his accusers in a fourfold argument. First argument:], How can Satan cast out Satan? aEvery kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house [family] divided against itself shall not stand: b24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. cA house divided against a house falleth. {b25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.} a26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; c18 And if Satan also is [300] divided against himself, ahow then shall his kingdom stand? b26 And if Satan hath risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. cbecause ye say that I cast out demons by Beelzebub. [The explanation given by the Pharisees represented Satan as divided against himself; robbing himself of his greatest achievement; namely, his triumph over the souls and bodies of men. Jesus argues, not that Satan could not do this, but that he would not, and that therefore the explanation which supposes him to do it is absurd. We should note that Jesus here definitely recognizes two important truths: 1. That the powers of evil are organized into a kingdom with a head ( Matthew 13:29, Matthew 25:41, Mark 4:15, Luke 22:31). 2. That division tends to destruction. His argument therefore, "constitutes an incidental but strong argument against sectarianism. See 1 Corinthians 1:13" (Abbott). Second argument:] 19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges. [The sons of the Pharisees were not their children, but their disciples ( 2 Kings 2:3, Acts 19:13, Acts 19:14). Josephus mentions these exorcists (Ant. viii. 2, 5, and Wars vii. 6, 3), and there is abundant mention of them in later rabbinical books. Our Lord’s reference to them was merely for the purpose of presenting an argumentum ad hominem, and in no way implies that they exercised any real power over the demons; nor could they have done so in any marked degree, else the similar work of Christ would not have created such an astonishment. The argument therefore is this, I have already shown you that it is against reason that Satan cast out Satan; I now show you that it is against experience. The only instances of dispossession which you can cite are those of your own disciples. Do they act by the power of Satan? They therefore shall be your judges as to whether you have spoken rightly in saying that Satan casts out Satan. Third argument:] 20 But if I with the finger {aby the Spirit} of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. [The finger of God signifies the power of God [301] ( Exodus 8:19, Exodus 31:18, Psalms 8:3). [Jesus exercised this power in unison with the Spirit of God. Jesus here draws a conclusion from the two arguments presented. Since he does not cast out by Satan, he must cast out by the power of God, and therefore his actions demonstrated the potential arrival of the kingdom of God. The occasional accidental deliverance of exorcists might be evidence of the flow and ebb of a spiritual battle, but the steady, daily conquests of Christ over the powers of evil presented to the people the triumphant progress of an invading kingdom. It is an argument against the idea that there was a collusion between Christ and Satan. Fourth argument:] c21 When the strong man fully armed guardeth his own court, his goods are in peace: 22 but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him his whole armor wherein he trusted, and divided his spoils. b27 But no one can {a29 Or how can one} enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then will he spoil his house. [Satan is the strong man, his house the body of the demoniac, and his goods the evil spirit within the man. Jesus had entered his house, and robbed him of his goods; and this proved that, instead of being in league with Satan, he had overpowered Satan. Thus Jesus put to shame the Pharisees, and caused the divinity of his miracle to stand out in clearer light than ever. The power of Jesus to dispossess the demon was one of his most convincing credentials, and its meaning now stood forth in its true light.] 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. [Jesus here addresses the bystanders. In the spiritual conflict between Jesus and Satan, neutrality is impossible. There are only two kingdoms, and every soul is either in one or the other, for there is no third. Hence one who fought Satan in the name of Christ was for Christ ( Luke 9:50). In the figure of gathering and scattering, the people are compared to a flock of sheep which Jesus would gather into the fold, but which Satan and all who aid him (such as the Pharisees) would [302] scatter and destroy.] b28 Verily a31 Therefore I say unto you, Every sins and blasphemy {ball their sins} shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and their blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme [Jesus here explains to the Pharisees the awful meaning of their enmity. Blasphemy is any kind of injurious speech. It is the worst form of sin, as we see by this passage. This does not declare that every man shall be forgiven all his sins, but that all kinds of sin committed by various men shall be forgiven. The forgiveness is universal as to the sin, not as to the men]: abut the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak {bblaspheme} against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin: ait shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come. b30 because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. [Blasphemy against the Son may be a temporary sin, for the one who commits it may be subsequently convinced of his error by the testimony of the Holy Spirit and become a believer ( 1 Timothy 1:13). But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is in its nature an eternal sin, for if one rejects the evidence given by the Holy Spirit and ascribes it to Satan, he rejects the only evidence upon which faith can be based; and without faith there is no forgiveness. The difference in the two sins is therefore in no way due to any difference in the Son and Spirit as to their degrees of sanctity or holiness. The punishment is naturally eternal because the sin is perpetual. The mention of the two worlds is, "just an extended way of saying ’never’" (Morison). Some assert that the Jews would not know what Jesus meant by the Holy Spirit, but the point is not so well taken. See Exodus 31:3, Numbers 11:26, 1 Samuel 10:10, 1 Samuel 19:20; Psalms 139:7, Psalms 143:10, Isaiah 48:16, Ezekiel 11:24. We see by Mark’s statement that blasphemy against the Spirit consisted in saying that Jesus had an unclean spirit, that his works were due to Satanic influence, and hence wrought to [303] accomplish Satanic ends. We can not call God Satan, nor the Holy Spirit a demon, until our state of sin has passed beyond all hope of reform. One can not confound the two kingdoms of good and evil unless he does so maliciously and willfully.] a33 Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit. [The meaning and connection are: "Be honest for once; represent the tree as good, and its fruit as good, or the tree as evil, and its fruit as evil; either say that I am evil, and that my works are evil, or, if you admit that my works are good, admit that I am good also and not in league with Beelzebub"--Carr.] 34 Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [Realizing the hopelessness of this attempt to get an honest judgment out of dishonest hearts, Jesus plainly informs them as to the condition of their hearts. Their very souls were full of poison like vipers. Their sin lay not in their words, but in a condition of heart which made such words possible. The heart being as it was, the words could not be otherwise. "What is in the well will be in the bucket"--Trapp.] 35 The good man out of his good treasure bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. [We have here a summary of the contrast given in the Matthew 12:33, Matthew 12:34. The good heart of Jesus brought forth its goodness, as the evil hearts of the Pharisees brought forth their evil.] 36 And I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. [It may have seemed to some that Jesus denounced too severely a saying which the Pharisees had hastily and lightly uttered. But it is the word inconsiderately spoken which betrays the true state of the heart. The hypocrite can talk like an angel if he be put on notice that his words are heard. Jesus here makes words the basis of the judgment of God. Elsewhere [304] we find it is works ( Romans 2:6, 2 Corinthians 5:10), and again we find it is faith ( Romans 3:28). There is no confusion here. The judgment in its finality must be based upon our character. Our faith forms our character, and our words and works are indices by which we may determine what manner of character it is.]

[FFG 298-305]

Verses 38-45


XLIX.
SIGN SEEKERS, AND THE ENTHUSIAST REPROVED.
(Galilee on the same day as the last section.)
aMATT. XII. 38-45; cLUKE XI. 24-36.

c29 And when the multitudes were gathering together unto him, a38 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. [Having been severely rebuked by Jesus, it is likely that the scribes and Pharisees asked for a sign that they might appear to the multitude more fair-minded and open to conviction than Jesus had represented them to be. Jesus had just wrought a miracle, so that their request shows that they wanted something different. We learn from Mark ( Mark 8:11) that they wanted a sign, not coming from him, but from heaven, such a sign as other prophets and leaders had given ( Exodus 9:22-24, Exodus 16:4, Joshua 10:12, 1 Samuel 7:9, 1 Samuel 7:10, 1 Samuel 12:16-18; 1 Kings 18:36-38, 2 Kings 1:10, Isaiah 38:8). "In Jewish superstition it was held that demons and false gods could give signs on earth, but only the true God signs from heaven" (Alford). The request was the renewal of the one which had assailed him at the beginning of his ministry ( John 2:18), and re-echoed the wilderness temptation to advance himself by vulgar display rather than by the power of a life of divine holiness.] 39 But he answered and said unto them, {che began to say,} This generation is an evil generation: it seeketh after a sign; aAn evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign [305] [While the Jews of that generation could well be accused literally of adultery, Jesus here evidently uses it in its symbolic sense as used by the prophets. They represented Israel as being married to God and as being untrue to him-- Exodus 34:15, Jeremiah 3:14, Jeremiah 3:20]; and there shall no sign be given to it, cbut the sign of Jonah. athe prophet [They did not accept miracles of healing as a sign, and only one other kind of sign was given; viz.: that of Jonah. Jonah was shown to be a true prophet of God, and Nineveh received him as such because he was rescued from the fish’s belly, and Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead-- Romans 1:4]: 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights. [Jesus was one full day, two full nights, and parts of two other days in the grave. But, as the Jews reckoned a part of a day as a whole day when it occurred at the beginning or end of a series, he was correctly spoken of as being three days in the grave. The Jews had three phrases, viz.: "on the third day," "after three days," and "three days and three nights," which all meant the same thing; that is, three days, two of which might be fractional days. With them three full days and nights would be counted as four days unless the count began at sundown, the exact beginning of a day ( Acts 10:1-30). For instances of Jewish computation of days, see Genesis 42:17, Genesis 42:18, 1 Kings 12:5, 1 Kings 12:12, Esther 4:16, Esther 5:1, Matthew 27:63, Matthew 27:64. The Greek word here translated "whale" is "sea monster." It is called in Jonah "a great fish" ( Jonah 1:17). Because of the supposed smallness of the whale’s throat, many think that it was the white shark, which is still plentiful in the Mediterranean, and which sometimes measures sixty feet in length, and is large enough to swallow a man whole. But it is now a well-established fact that whales can swallow a man, and there are many instances of such swallowings on record. The expression "heart of the earth" does not mean its center. The Jews used the word "heart" to denote the interior of anything ( Ezekiel 28:2). The phrase is here [306] used as one which would emphatically indicate the actual burial of Christ.] c30 For even as Jonah became a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. [Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, situated on the Tigris River, and in its day the greatest city of the world. Jonah’s preservation was a sign from heaven, because wrought without human instrumentality. The resurrection of Christ was such a sign to the Jews, but rejecting it, they continued to seek other signs-- 1 Corinthians 1:22.] a41 The men of Nineveh shall stand up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here. [Literally, repented into the teaching of Jonah. The meaning is that they repented so that they followed the course of life which the preaching prescribed. The phrase, "stand up," refers to the Jewish and Roman custom which required the witness to stand up while testifying in a criminal case. The idea here is that the Ninevites, having improved the lesser advantage or privilege, would condemn the Jews for having neglected the greater. Nineveh’s privilege may be counted thus: a sign-accredited prophet preaching without accompanying miracles, and a forty-day period of repentance. In contrast to this the Jewish privileges ran thus: the sign-accredited Son of God preaching, accompanied by miracles, in which many apostles and evangelists participated, a forty-year period in which to repent.] 42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: {cwith the men of this generation, and shall condemn them:} for she came from the ends of the earth [a Hebraism, indicating a great distance] to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here. [The queen of Sheba is supposed to have been queen of Sabæa, or Arabia Felix, which lies in the southern part of the peninsula between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. But Josephus says she was from Ethiopia in Africa. Her testimony will also be based on the compared privileges, which [307] stand thus: notwithstanding the dangers and inconveniences, she came a great distance to be taught of Solomon, but the Jews rejected the teaching of the Son of God, though he brought it to them. The teaching of Solomon related largely to this world, but Christ taught as to the world to come.] a43 But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passeth through waterless places [places which are as cheerless to him as deserts are to man], seeking rest, and findeth it not. [Rest is the desire of every creature. Jesus here gives us a graphic description of utter wretchedness.] cand finding none, a44 Then he saith, I will return into {cturn back unto} my house [he still claimed it as his property] whence I came out. 25 And when he is come, he findeth it aempty, swept, and garnished. [It was empty, having no indwelling Spirit, swept of all righteous impressions and good influences, and garnished with things inviting to an evil spirit.] 45 Then [seeing this inviting condition] goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits [to reinforce and entrench himself] more evil than himself [while all demons are wicked they are not equally so], and they enter in and dwell there [take up their permanent abode there]: and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation. [In the application of this parable, we should bear in mind that it tells of two states or conditions experienced by one man, and the comparison is between these two states or conditions and not between the condition of the man and other men. Such being the parable, the application of it is plain, for Jesus says, "Even so shall it be unto this evil generation." We are not, therefore, to compare that generation with any previous one, as many do; for such would be contrary to the terms of the parable. It is simply an assertion that the last state of that generation would be worse than the first. The reference is to the continually increasing wickedness of the Jews, which culminated in the dreadful scenes which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem. They were now like a man with one [308] evil spirit; they would then be like a man with seven more demons added, each of which was worse than the original occupant.] c27 And it came to pass, as he said these things, a certain woman out of the multitude lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the breasts which thou didst suck. [This woman is the first on record to fulfill Mary’s prediction ( Luke 1:48). It is the only passage in the New Testament which even suggests the idolatry of Mariolatry, but it was far enough from it, being merely a womanly way of expressing admiration for the son by pronouncing blessings upon the mother who was so fortunate as to bear him.] 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. [Jesus does not deny the fact that Mary was blessed, but corrects any false idea with regard to her by pointing to the higher honor of being a disciple which was attainable by every one. Mary’s blessing as a disciple was greater than her blessing as a mother; her moral and spiritual relation to Jesus was more precious than her maternal. Mary’s blessings came through believing God’s word ( Luke 1:45). To know Christ after the Spirit is more blessed than to know him after the flesh-- 2 Corinthians 5:15, 2 Corinthians 5:16, John 16:7.] 33 No man, when he hath lighted a lamp, putteth it in a cellar, neither under a bushel, but on the stand, that they which come in may see the light. 34 The lamp of thy body is thine eye: when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when it is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Look therefore whether the light that is in thee be not darkness. 36 If therefore thy whole body be full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining doth give thee light. [This passage given in a slightly varying form is found in the Sermon on the Mount. See page 256. It is here addressed to the Pharisees and reproves them for not using the light (his miracles) which was given to them. If they [309] had had an eye single to goodness, Christ’s light would have enlightened their souls. But their eye was double; they desired wonders and spectacular signs.]

[FFG 305-310]

Verses 46-50


L.
CHRIST’S TEACHING AS TO HIS MOTHER AND BRETHREN.
(Galilee, same day as the last lesson.)
aMATT. XII. 46-50; bMARK III. 31-35; cLUKE VIII. 19-21.

a46 While he yet speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without seeking to speak to him. [Jesus was in a house, probably at Capernaum-- Mark 3:19, Matthew 13:1.] c19 and there came {bcome} cto him his mother and bhis brethren; cand they could not come at him for the crowd. aand, standing without, they sent unto him, calling him. 32 And the multitude was sitting about him [We learn at Mark 3:21, that they came to lay hold of him because they thought that he was beside himself. It was for this reason that they came in a body, for their numbers would enable them to control him. Jesus had four brethren ( Matthew 13:55). Finding him teaching with the crowd about him, they passed the word in to him that they wished to see him outside. To attempt to lay hold of him in the midst of his disciples would have been rashly inexpedient. The fact that they came with Mary establishes the strong presumption that they were the children of Mary and Joseph, and hence the literal brethren of the Lord. In thus seeking to take Jesus away from his enemies Mary yielded to a natural maternal impulse which even the revelations accorded to her did not quiet. The brethren, too, acted naturally, for they were unbelieving-- John 7:5.] a47 And one said {bthey say} unto him, c20 And it was told him, aBehold, thy mother and thy brethren bseek for thee. cstand without, desiring to see thee. aseeking to speak to thee. [310] [This message was at once an interruption and an interference. It assumed that their business with him was more urgent than his business with the people. It merited our Lord’s rebuke, even if it had not behind it the even greater presumption of an attempt to lay hold on him.] 48 But he answered {b33 And he answereth} aand said unto him that told him, band saith, {cand said unto them,} aWho is my mother? and who are my brethren? b34 And looking round on them that sat round about him, ahe stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, {bsaith,} aBehold, my mother and my brethren! cMy mother and my brethren are these that hear the word of God and do it. b35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, amy Father who in heaven, he {bthe same} is my brother, and my sister, and mother. [In this answer Jesus shows that he brooks no interference on the score of earthly relationships, and explodes the idea of his subserviency to his mother. To all who call on the "Mother of God," as Mary is blasphemously styled, Jesus answers, as he did to the Jews, "Who is my mother?" Jesus was then in the full course of his ministry as Messiah, and as such he recognized only spiritual relationships. By doing the will of God we become his spiritual children, and thus we become related to Christ. Jesus admits three human relationships--"brother, sister, mother"--but omits the paternal relationship, since he had no Father, save God. It is remarkable that in the only two instances in which Mary figures in the ministry of Jesus prior to his crucifixion, she stands forth reproved by him. This fact not only rebukes those who worship her, but especially corrects the doctrine of her immaculate conception.] [311]

[FFG 310-311]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Matthew 12". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tfg/matthew-12.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.