Memory Verse: Matthew 13:58
13:53-54a Are You Amazed At Jesus’ Wisdom And Mighty Works?
- 13:53-54a After Jesus finished teaching His parables, He departed from there and came unto His home country (Nazareth). Then He started teaching in the synagogues there. We aren’t told what Jesus taught at this specific time, but it caused the people to be astonished. They were greatly surprised about what they heard Jesus doing and the mighty works they heard Jesus had done or that what He claimed He could do. Jesus claims are extraordinary and supernatural. You should be amazed and consider them.
- Jesus’ home country: Jesus was a Nazarene. Nazareth is a small village. Jesus was a villager. He was from a village family. They were not looked upon as highly educated or well respected. Nazareth was just an insignificant village and no one expected any one of great importance to come from there. But there was significance to the village because the Messiah would come from Nazareth and be called a Nazarene.
John 1:46; Matthew 2:23; Isaiah 11:1
- Jesus’ mighty works: From the start of this Gospel until now, Matthew has recorded Jesus doing the following miracles: He healed the centurion’s servant; He stilled the storm; He cast the demons out of two men; He cured a man sick of the palsy; He raised the ruler’s daughter from the dead; He opened the eyes of two blind men; He caused the dumb to speak; He restored a withered hand; He cured a demon-possessed, blind and dumb man. These are not works that a normal insignificant villager.
Matthew 8:5-13; 23-27; 28-34; 9:1-8; 18-26; 27-31; 32-33; 12:10-13; 12:22
- Jesus’ wisdom: From the time Jesus began to preach, He came with a message for mankind, saying, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus was here to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of mankind. All the doctrine He taught was characterized by authority—in manner and content. Jesus taught like He had the power and the right to give orders and speak on behalf of God. He wasn’t a “normal teacher” or someone who had doubts like the other villagers.
Matthew 4:17; 7:28-29; 11:19; 12:42
13:54b Where Does Jesus’ Authority Come From?
- 13:54b The people responded with a question, “Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?” They were asking, “Where does Jesus’ authority come from?” Before, when Jesus was faced with this same type of questioning He tells them that if He does the mighty works by the Spirit of God then it has great implications—mainly that the kingdom of God had come unto them. God by the Holy Spirit through Jesus is establishing His kingdom. Jesus might have been from a villager family, but he was anything but an insignificant villager. He was on mission from God to bring us salvation.
13:55-56 Is Jesus More Than One Of Us?
- 13:55-56 They continued with their questions, asking about his family:
- “Is not this the carpenter’s son?”—Jesus’ earthly father was Joseph who was a carpenter. But the Bible never says that Joseph begat Jesus like it does with the other father and son relationships. This is because Jesus’ birth was supernatural. Joseph never had sexual relations with his wife to produce the child Jesus. This means Jesus was not Joseph’s literal, physical offspring—but Jesus was Joseph’s legal offspring because Joseph was Jesus’ step-father. He was not a normal carpenter’s son.
- “Is not his mother called Mary?”—Jesus’ earthly mother was Mary. Before Jesus was born she was espoused to Joseph. During this time they were not permitted to sexually come together until after the official marriage ceremony. Therefore, before they came together sexually, Mary was found with child of the Holy Spirit—meaning God supernaturally caused Mary to become pregnant with Jesus.
Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:26-27
- “And his brethren…And his sisters…Whence then hath this man all these things?”—Jesus’ earthly parents had children after He was born, but what set Jesus apart from them? That is what the villagers were hinting at. If Jesus was born into a normal village family, then where does His works and teaching come from? But Jesus’ supernatural birth meant that He wasn’t the same as His family. It meant that He wasn’t the same as any other human. It meant that God was with us. God promised a Saviour would come and Jesus’ birth marked His coming. He was 100% God and 100% man—thus the only one who could take away the sins of the world through the sacrifice of Himself.
Isaiah 7:14; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 9:26; 1 John 3:5
13:57 Does Jesus Offend You?
- 13:57a They were offended at Jesus. They couldn’t explain where Jesus’ authority came from and they were not willing to believe He was God—because they couldn’t explain it. Jesus is claiming ultimate authority and they were appalled by it. Are you like this? Are you a skeptic? When Jesus is presented to you, instead of accepting Him as Lord of your life by faith, you reject Him because you can’t explain His wisdom or mighty works?
- 13:57b Jesus says to them, “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.” Jesus is using this proverbial phrase to refer to Himself, which means He is claiming to be a prophet (one who gives God’s people direct revelation from God), but also showing that those closest to a prophet are often the ones unwilling to show honor.
John 1:10, 11
13:58 Do You Believe?
- 13:58 Finally, Jesus didn’t do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Their hearts were unresponsive to Jesus. Thus He chose not to do works there because they were not instructive to such a people. Are you missing God’s salvation and blessings because of your unbelief? There is a decision to be made: Do you confess Jesus as Lord?
- After Jesus finished teaching His parables where did He go?
- Why were people astonished at Jesus?
- Where does Jesus’ authority come from?
- Is Jesus the same as His family? Why?
- Why didn’t Jesus do many mighty works?
Memory Verse: Matthew 13:45-46
13:31-33 The Parables Of: The Mustard Seed, The Leaven
- 13:31a In between Jesus giving the parable of the tares of the field and its explanation, He gave two more parables to the crowd that gives more insight about what the kingdom of heaven is like.
- 13:31b-32 The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed. This mustard seed was took by a man and sowed in his field. A mustard seed is one of the smallest of all seeds and was used proverbially as “the smallest” (the least) of all seeds (even though we know some seeds are smaller than it). But the smallness of the seed is contrasted to how large it becomes when it is fully grown (it is the greatest among herbs). It even becomes a tree that stands 8-12 feet tall where birds can lodge in its branches. Application: The kingdom of heaven might seem small and insignificant at first, but in the end it will be the greatest of all kingdom’s. Therefore, living for the kingdom of heaven today is of great significance.
- 13:33 The kingdom of heaven is like leaven. This leaven was took by a women and she put it in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. At this time, people often made their own bread. Leaven is a substance (often some of the dough from last week’s bread) that is used to produce fermentation in the dough and cause the bread to rise. The focus is on the changing power of the leaven in the meal. There was probably only a small amount of leaven used (customarily) and a large amount of meal, but the small amount of leaven caused the whole amount of meal to be leavened. Application: The kingdom of heaven might seem small and insignificant at first, but it will completely change your life. When God’s kingdom is establish in your hearts, it will completely transform you from the inside out.
13:34-35 Jesus Speaking In Parables Fulfilled Scripture
- 13:34-35 Next, Matthew tells us that everything Jesus spoke to the multitude was in parables. Then he tells us one of the reason Jesus did this was to fulfill prophecy spoken by a prophet that said: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” This means that Jesus is revealing new truth that God had not yet revealed to mankind through these parables.
13:44-50 The Parables Of: The Treasure, The Goodly Pearl, The Net
- 13:36 Jesus sent the multitude away and went into a house. His disciples wanted to know the meaning of the parable of the tares of the field. After He explained it to them (13:37-43), He gave three more parables to His disciples that gave more insight about what the kingdom of heaven is like.
- 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure. This treasure is hid in a field. When a person finds this treasure he covers it up and then in his joy he goes to sell all that he has and buys the field. At this time, it was common to bury your valuables in the ground as a safe place to hide them. Through a multitude of circumstances the original owner of the treasure would have passed on and it was left in the ground. If someone found such a treasure then it would legally be theirs. To guarantee it would be theirs without dispute, a person would hide the treasure until he could purchase the field the treasure was hid in. That is what the person in the story did. But his money wasn’t enough, so he had to sell everything that he had to be able to buy the land and acquire the treasure. Application: The kingdom of heaven is hidden from most people, but when a person discovers it, they realize that it is so valuable that they are willing to give up everything to obtain it. When we realize what God is offering us in His kingdom (forgiveness of sin; to be made righteous; escape from hell; eternal life) then we are willing to joyfully consider all lost for its sake. Salvation is freely given, but that is just the beginning of the Kingdom of God. As we live out God’s kingdom on this earth, we will experience affliction, trials, and persecutions as part of this life. If we understand the greatness of salvation and the life we are to live thereafter, then we will willingly and joyfully give all up for it.
- 13:45-46 The kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price. A merchant man goes about seeking goodly (fine) pearls. When he finds one pearl of great price he goes to sell all that he has and buys the pearl. Application: The kingdom of heaven can be sought for and found, but when people find it they have to be willing to give up everything to obtain it. Salvation is completely free, but living the Christian life may cost everything.
- 13:47-50 The kingdom of heaven is like a net. This net was cast into the sea and gathered every kind of fish. When the net was full they drew it to shore, sat down and gathered the good fish into vessels, but cast the bad fish away. At this time, this was the common way to fish. They would use a dragnet between two boats and sweep it toward the shore, gathering everything in its path. Once they got the net on shore, they would separate the valuable fish from the invaluable fish. In this parable, Jesus gives us the spiritual meaning: Just like the good and bad fish were separated, so at the end of the world or at the final judgement, angels will come forth and separate the wicked from among the just. The wicked will be cast into the furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Application: Believers (the just—those who have been justified by faith in God) will be separated from unbelievers (the wicked—those who have rejected God’s salvation). The unbelievers will be cast into a place of great torment being eternally separated from God. But believers we eternally be with God. This shows the great worth of the kingdom.
13:51-52 The Parable Of The Householder
- 13:51 Finally, Jesus finished his teaching (13:36-50) and asked His disciples if they understood everything. They said they did so He gives them another parable.
- 13:52 “Therefore,” because the teaching of the kingdom of heaven is new and understandable, every scribe who has become instructed in the teachings of the kingdom of heaven is like a person who is a householder. This householder brings out of his treasure things that are new and old. A scribe often became an authority concerning the law. For a scribe to also be discipled in the kingdom of heaven, meant that he understood the kingdom as a fulfillment of the old. Application: The new and the old testament are both treasure that are to be equally important—the treasure box contains both.
- What are the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven?
- Jesus spoke in parables to fulfill what?
- What are the parables of the treasure, the goodly pearl and the net?
- What is the parable of the householder?
- How do you better understand the great worth of the kingdom?
Memory Verse: Matthew 13:41-43
13:24a, b, 36, 43 The Kingdom Of Heaven
- 13:24a Jesus started using parables—simple stories to illustrate spiritual truth when explained (or hidden when not explained)—to teach the multitudes. He told them the parable of the sower and then He explained the spiritual truth to His disciples. After He finished explaining the parable to them He put forth another parable to the crowd.
- 13:24b Jesus starts this parable with “the kingdom of heaven is likened unto…” meaning that the following parable is going to help us understand truth about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven has a twofold meaning: (1) Chiefly, it refers to God’s rule over the life of believers. It means that Jesus’ purpose is to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of mankind. (2) Subsequently, it foreshadows the future eternal state when all believers will live in the eternal kingdom of God. Therefore, the following parable will help us understand more about both of these aspects.
- 13:36, 43b After Jesus told this parable (and two others) to the crowd, He sent the multitudes away and went into a house. Parables without explanation conceal truth, but with explanation they reveal truth. Therefore, Jesus’ disciples came to Jesus because they wanted to know the meaning of the parables. They wanted to understand the truth the parables were meant to reveal. (Do you desire truth?) They asked Jesus to declare unto them the parable of the tares of the field. Then Jesus continues to reveal to them its spiritual truth and ends his explanation with: “who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Therefore, let us pay attention to the truth that Jesus is going to teach us.
13:24c The Parable Of The Tares Of The Field And Its Explanation
- 13:24c, 37 The Sower—Earthly meaning: A sower (a person who scatters seeds on the ground) sowed good seed in his field (scattered good seeds for future growth). Spiritual meaning: The sower of the good seed is the Son of man, who is Jesus. Application: Jesus is actively working today to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of mankind.
- 13:24d, 38a The Field—Earthly meaning: The field is a cultivated piece of ground where grain is grown. Spiritual meaning: The field represent the world or the hearts of all of mankind. Application: Jesus isn’t constrained to a certain group of people but He desires to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of all mankind all over the world.
- 13:24e, 38b The Good seed—Earthly meaning: The good seed is the specific seed of the plant (wheat) he is panting without it being mixed with the seeds of weeds or other plants (tares). Spiritual meaning: The good seed are the children of the kingdom or those who are true believers. Application: These people have received and believed the gospel. Their lives bear fruit of being a believer. Their lives are ruled by God and they are defined by their relationship to Him. Are you a true believer?
- 13:25a, 28a, 39 The Enemy—Earthly meaning: While the sower and his servants slept his enemy came and sowed tares (weeds) among the wheat (good seed) and then went his way. Spiritual meaning: The enemy that sowed the tares is the devil. Application: The devil hates God and desires to do harm to His work. He will always have a counterfeit to what God is doing so that he can try to prevent God from accomplishing His will.
- 13:25b, 38c The Tares—Earthly meaning: The tares are a plant that looks like wheat but is not. It is a weed that is only distinguishable from wheat when the “ear” appears. Spiritual meaning: The tares are the children of the wicked one or those who are false believers. Application: Throughout the world there are false believers mixed in with real believers. There are many religions who appear to be good. There are many people who claim to be Christians but are not. None of these people have repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus. God does not reign within their hearts. They are not part of God’s kingdom.
- 13:26-30a The Problem—Earthly meaning: When wheat and tares are planted together you can’t tell the difference when the blade springs up. Meaning during the early stages of growth you can’t tell the difference between the two plants. Only when they are grown and bring forth fruit can you tell the difference. Therefore, when they were grown they discovered what their enemy had done. The servants wanted to go and gather up the tares, but the householder told them not to because they risked uprooting the wheat also. Instead the householder told them to let them both grow together until the harvest because at that time the wheat would be ready to be gathered also. Spiritual Meaning: This is part of the parable, but Jesus gives no specific spiritual meaning to it. Application: We could assume that until the final judgment, unbelievers and believers will coexists.
- 13:30b, 39-43 The Harvest—Earthly meaning: The harvest was the time to gather in the crops. First, the reapers would gather together the tares and bind them together to be burned. Second, the wheat would be gathered separate and put into the householder’s barn. Spiritual meaning: The harvest is the end of the world or the time of final judgement. The reapers are the angels. Jesus (the Son of man) will send them to gather those who never repented and trusted Him (all things that offend, and them which do iniquity—their sins condemn them) and will cast them into eternal punishment (there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth). Those who have repented and trusted in Jesus (the righteous—their position commends them) will enjoy eternal joy together with God in His kingdom (shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father). Application: There is a decision to make and there are only two choices: Jesus or Satan. Your eternal destination depends on this decision. Thus there is a decision to be made, if you submit to God’s rule, you will live in His eternal joy, but if you reject God’s rule you will endure eternal damnation. Is God’s kingdom established in your heart? Does He rule your life? Have you repented and put your faith in Jesus? Those around you are not be able to see your heart and you can easily fool them, but you can’t fool God—He knows what you really believe.
- Conclusion: We learn the following about the kingdom of heaven: (1) Only the good seed represents true believers—those whom God rules over their life. The other seed represents those who have some good characteristics but in the end they are shown to be false believers because God’s kingdom was never established in their hearts. Their sin condemns them. (2) Only true believers will live in the eternal kingdom of heaven because they are righteous. God through the death of Jesus forgave their sins and through the resurrection of Jesus made them righteous.
- What will the parable reveal truths about?
- What is the parable of the tares of the field?
- What does the good seed and tares represent?
- What happens to the good seed and the tares?
- In the harvest, which side are you on?
Memory Verse: Matthew 13:8
13:13a, 10-17 Jesus And Parables
- 13:1-3a The same day Jesus was teaching the scribes, Pharisees, disciples and whoever else was around Him at the time, He went out of the house and sat by the sea side. Jesus ministry wasn’t limited to just teaching indoors at places like the Synagogue or a house, but he would also teach outdoors. Great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He went into a ship and sat. The crowd of people stood on the shore and Jesus used this as an opportunity to teach them through parables—simple stories used to illustrate a spiritual truth when explained.
- 13:10-17 After Jesus taught the first parable, His disciples asked Him “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” He answered them giving two main reasons in connection to the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven and how it fulfilled scripture: (1) To reveal and give more spiritual insights about these mysteries to those who have accepted the truth they were given. After hearing and seeing the truth, they received it by faith thus given comprehension. Their hearts were responsive to Jesus. The parables are instructive to such a person. (2) To conceal and take away spiritual insights about the mysteries from those who rejected the truth they were given. After hearing and seeing the truth, they rejected it thus not given comprehension. Their hearts were unresponsive to Jesus—meaning they were unable to convert and be heal from their sins. The parables are not instructive to such a person. Therefore, the parables can reveal or conceal further spiritual truth depending on how you have received the truth that you have already been given. The disciples were blessed because they accepted the truth they were given and were partaking in the culmination of all God’s promises through the ages coming to fruition in Jesus (many of God’s servants would have desired to see and hear or experience what they are experiencing).
13:3b-9, 18-23 The Parable Of The Sower And Its Explanation
Mark 4:2-9, 13-20; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15
- 13:9, 18 After telling the parable to the crowd Jesus told all those willing to hear to pay attention to what He was telling them. He explained to the disciples why He used a parable and now explains to His disciples the spiritual truth illustrated by the parable.
- 13:3b, 19a The Sower and the Seed—Earthly meaning: A sower (a person who scatters seeds on the ground) went out to sow (scatter seeds for future growth). When he was sowing the seeds fell on four different kinds of soil. Spiritual meaning: The seed represents “the word of the kingdom” (the word of God or the gospel), the sower is anyone who spreads the word of the kingdom and the soil represents the heart and response to the word being received. Application: First, check your life to see which “soil” or person you are. If you have heard the word of the kingdom—that God wants to rule your heart as King, how have your responded to it? Second, know that as we preach the word there will be different reactions to it, our responsibility is just to be faithful in sowing.
- 13:4, 19b The Way Side—Earthly meaning: Some seeds fell by the way side but birds came and ate them up. The “way side” was a road or path that people walked on. The ground would be packed down and the seed wouldn’t enter into the soil very easy. Therefore, the seed was easy for birds to eat. Spiritual meaning: The word of the kingdom goes forth and a person hears it and receives it even though He doesn’t understand it. Therefore, the wicked one comes and steals away that which was sown in that person’s heart. Application: Do you have a hard heart? Do you understand the gospel? Is Satan keeping you or others you know away from continually hearing the word so that it doesn’t take root in them? Are you willing to study the gospel so you can understand it?
- 13:5-6, 20-21 The Stony Places—Earthly meaning: Some seeds fell upon stony places but because of the lack of soil (there was soil but rock under the soil) they didn’t have deep roots and when they sprung up they were dried out by the sun and withered away. Spiritual meaning: The word of the kingdom goes forth and a person hears it and receives it joyfully without hesitation but it doesn’t take root and thus it can only last temporarily. When tribulation and persecution (times of testing) come about because of the word of the kingdom he just as quickly is offended by it and rejects it. Application: Do you have a selfish heart? Do you easily accept and reject things based on what is good for you? What is the reason you are a believer? If being a believer means that you will have to suffer and be persecuted, maybe you will loose your job, etc., will you still believe?
- 13:7, 22 The Thorns—Earthly meaning: Some seeds fell among thorns and because thorns sprung up they were choked out. These thornbush plants would be growing in the same soil as the seeds the sower was sowing and would be in competition with what the seeds needed to grow and be fruitful. The thornbush plants would overpower the seeds and they would die. Spiritual meaning: The word of the kingdom goes forth and a person hears it and receives it, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word of the kingdom, and the person becomes unfruitful. Application: Do you have a faithless or greedy heart? Are you unwilling to completely trust God about all the cares of this word and seek first His kingdom? Is your desire to go after pleasures and wealth instead of loving God? You have to make a decision about who you are really going to trust and who is going to be your Lord, so what is your decision, who would you rather have? What idols of the heart are keeping you from fully trusting Jesus?
- 13:8, 23 The Good Ground—Earthly meaning: Some seeds fell into good ground and produced fruit—hundredfold, sixtyfold or thirtyfold. Spiritual meaning: The word of the kingdom goes forth and a person hears it and receives it with understanding and bears fruit. Application: Do you have a fruitful heart? Do you understand the gospel and believe it by faith? Are you willing to believe it not matter the cost? Are you willing to trust in Jesus as the Lord of your life? Has your life changed since you became a believer or has it stayed the same? What fruit has produced in your life that shows you are a believer?
- Conclusion: It seems that only the good soil represents a true believer. The other soils represent those who accepted the gospel to some degree but not completely—without genuine saving faith. They have some characteristics of believers but the word of God never produced a fruitful heart in them. The gospel was the same for all but the hearts of the people determined if the gospel would make a difference in their lives. Has the gospel made a difference in your life?
- What is a parable?
- Why did Jesus use parables?
- What does the sower and the seed represent?
- What are the meanings and applications of the soils?
- Which soil are you?
Memory Verse: Matthew 12:50
12:38-40 Jesus’ Resurrection Is The Proof We Need
- 12:38-39a Jesus was making great claims and some of the scribes and Pharisees weren’t willing to accept them even though Jesus had already used miracles to prove who He was. Instead of believing in Jesus, they asked Jesus to perform another sign. They had already rejected Him. Thus the reason for asking for a sign was probably because they wanted to test Him or find another reason to accuse Him. Jesus knew they were “evil”—morally bad or wrong and “adulterous”—meaning they had gone after other gods and not been faithful to the one true God, therefore, no sign would be given to them—especially not the kind of sign that is demanded by skeptics. Signs are received not by demanding for them but received as God freely gives them according to His own purposes. They are only useful to those who have faith and not to the faithless. We are not to tempt God and put Him to the test. It shows our lack of faith, trust and dependence on Him and His word. Jesus knew this and would not play their games or do magic tricks for their entertainment.
Matthew 4:5-7; 12:24
- 12:39b-40 The only sign that will be given to them is the sign of the prophet Jonah (Jonas). This sign will be sufficient for them. Like Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days, so will Jesus (the Son of man) be buried for three days and then resurrect from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection will be the sign and infallible proof that He is the Messiah.
12:41-42 Others With Less Proof Believed And Are The Standard
- 12:41 The Ninevites: Like Jonah who came preaching repentance, so did Jesus, but unlike the Ninevites, the people of Jesus’ day didn’t repent. Jesus and His ministry was much greater than Jonah. Therefore, the people of Nineveh will stand in judgment against and condemn the unrepentant Jews who had a much greater prophet and message delivered to them.
- 12:42 The queen: Unlike the queen of Sheba (the south) who made a great effort (came from the uttermost parts of the earth) to hear the wisdom of Solomon, the unrepentant Jews didn’t make a great effort to find out if the “report” about Jesus was true or not. The queen found the report to be true about Solomon and responded with “Blessed be the Lord thy God,” but the Jews responded by wanting to kill Jesus. Jesus and His wisdom was much greater than Solomon. Therefore, the Queen will stand in judgment against and condemn the unrepentant Jews who had a much greater King and wisdom among them.
1 Kings 10:1-13
12:43-45 Morality Without Jesus Is Dangerous
- 12:43-45a Jesus knows the crowd that He is talking to is very moral. They have tried to follow all the rules and be people of good behavior, but as Jesus points out, doing the right thing isn’t enough. He uses the following illustration of a demon possessed person. An “unclean spirit” or a demon posses a person and causes him to do many unclean or sinful things. But when that demon leaves the person he was living in, the person starts to do “clean” or right things. The demon returns to that same person and finds him in the followings conditions: empty—no other spirit lives there; swept—the person cleaned his life up and stopped being immoral; garnished—everything was orderly and clean. Then the spirit takes seven other spirits more wicked than himself and they enter in and dwell in the person. This results in the last state of that man being worse than the first state. All of his cleaning did no good.
- 12:45b Jesus tells the crowd that this (a worse ending) is what they (the unrepentant “wicked” Jews and everyone who trust in morality) are in danger of. We can draw a few conclusion from this story: (1) The pursuit of a moral life is the wrong goal. In the story the unclean spirit leaves and a clean or moral life is pursued, but the man is still empty—void of any lasting good. In the end, his morality will fail him and he will be a worse sinner than when he started. Morality doesn’t convert, save or transform a person. (2) The pursuit of God is the right goal. Only God can give us His Spirit to live inside us so that we can live according to His will. When God saves us, He takes up residence in us and through the power of the Holy Spirit we are converted, saved and transformed to be like Jesus. Therefore, do not try to follow the teachings of Jesus without first believing in Jesus.
Ephesians 1:13-14; Galatians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
12:46-50 Your Relationship With Jesus Is Your Most Important One
- 12:46-50 Jesus continues to talk to the people when His mother (Mary) and brothers (the children born to Mary and Joseph after Jesus) stood outside of the crowd desiring to speak with Him. Then someone told Jesus that they were waiting to speak with Him. Jesus responds by saying, “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t know but that He was using this as a teaching time to reveal a greater truth. He goes on to stretch forth His hand towards His disciples, and says, “Behold my mother and my brethren.” Jesus calling His disciples his “mother and brothers” meant that they are His spiritual family. He goes on to clarify that anyone who does the will of God are also part of His family. We learn several things here:
- “my Father which is in heaven”—Jesus is claiming to be the Son of God, therefore being part of Jesus’ family means being part of God’s family.
- “whosoever”—anyone who is willing can become part of Jesus’ family. It doesn’t matter your age, race, gender or what kind of sins your have committed, God wants to adopt you through Jesus into His family.
- “do the will”—to become part of God’s family you have to do God’s will, which is not works of a moral life, but it is believing in Jesus whom God sent to this earth to adopt you; if you reject Jesus then you reject being a part of God’s family. Once we believe in Jesus we continue to obey God’s will and live a life pleasing to Him.
- “the same is my brother, and sister, and mother”—Jesus points to a relationship that is superior to our earthy family relationships. It wasn’t that Jesus disregarded His earthly family as unimportant, but that Jesus regarded His relationship with His followers as more important. Your family relationships are important, but your relationship with Jesus is the most important. It surpasses any family relationship in every area.
- What is the infallible proof that Jesus is the Messiah?
- Why does the Ninevites and the queen of Sheba set the standard?
- Why is morality without Jesus dangerous?
- How does a person become part of Jesus’ family?
- What is your most important relationship? Why?
Memory Verse: Matthew 12:25, 31
12:22-30 You Are With Jesus Or Against Jesus
- 12:22-24 Jesus continues to prove that He is the Messiah by healing a person brought to Him who was possessed with a devil, blind and unable to speak (dumb). Jesus healed him in such a way that he could now speak and see—meaning he was completely healed and the devil who was probably causing the problems was cast out. All the people were amazed. This kinda of amazing power was undeniable, but where did it come from? The crowd broke into two different groups based on how they answered this question: (1) Some believed Jesus to be the Messiah, they said, “Is not this the son of David?” The term “son of David” refers to the “Messiah” and so after seeing this miracle take place, they were asking if this could really be the Messiah. Jesus wasn’t what they thought the Messiah would be like, but the miracle caused them to reconsider their assumptions about the Messiah. (2) Others, the Pharisees, believed Jesus was a servant of Satan, saying, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” They refused to reconsider their assumptions and thus had to look for another reason why Jesus could have such power, they only other option they could think of was that Jesus’ power came from Beelzebub. They were close-minded and condemned good as evil.
- 12:25 But Jesus knew the thoughts of the Pharisees. He knew that this type of thinking was ridiculous. He goes on to point out that if a kingdom is divided against itself then it will be destroyed. The same thing goes for every city or family—if they are divided against themselves then they will not stand. This is practical wisdom. If something big or small isn’t united, but it is divided into fractions, then it won’t succeed at accomplishing its goal as a unit. Instead, it will prevent its goal from being accomplished. Therefore, Jesus points out the facts to the Pharisees:
- 12:26 Is Satan preventing his own goals from being accomplished? Satan would know this simple piece of wisdom, and if Jesus was casting out devils through the power of Satan, then Satan would be divided against himself and be preventing his own kingdom’s agenda from remaining or advancing in the world.
- 12:27 Is everyone who cast out devils servants of Satan? Jesus ask the Pharisees by whom do their children cast out devils? Apparently, some of their children or students claimed to have cast out devils as well, therefore, in the Pharisees’ logic that this supernatural power could only have come from Satan, were they also saying their children’s supernatural power also came from Satan. Of course they weren’t—therefore their children would be their judges because they would ascribe this power from God.
- 12:28 Is the Holy Spirit the source of Jesus’ power? Yes, He is. Jesus finally tells the Pharisees that if He cast out devils by the Spirit of God then it has great implications—mainly that the kingdom of God had come unto them. Satan is not defeating His own kingdom, but God by the Holy Spirit through Jesus is establishing His kingdom and defeating Satan’s kingdom. Jesus was here to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of mankind—His rule over the life of believers. (It also foreshadows the future eternal state when all believers will live in the eternal kingdom of God—eternal life.)
- 12:29 Jesus continues with a parable saying that for you to spoil a strong man’s goods from his house you would first need to bind the strong man and then you could spoil his house. The “goods” are safe until the strong man is defeated. Satan is the strong man—a tyrant and Jesus came to bind him and spoil his goods—to redeem mankind from Satan’s cruel and oppressive rule. Therefore, Jesus is fighting against Satan not helping him. To say anything otherwise is blasphemy.
- 12:30 Thus, everyone is forced to make a decision: Jesus or Satan, and refusing to make a decision puts you on the side of Satan. There is no middle ground, no neutrality, no impartiality, no indifference. You are with Jesus or against Jesus. If you are not with Him, then you are automatically against Him. If you aren’t helping Him “gather” then you are “scattering”—meaning just like a person who takes care of a flock of animals and has to gather them together when they scatter otherwise it encourages them to scatter even more, we have to make a decision if we are going to be working with Jesus to help unite His work or fight against it and try to divide it. Jesus is confronting you with a decision to make: who side are you on, His or Satan’s?
12:31-37 The Blasphemy Against The Holy Ghost
- 12:31-32 As a result of these two opposing sides, Jesus said to the crowd: “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men”—meaning that no matter what you have done in your life or the sins that you have committed, God is willing to forgive you through repentance and faith. There is no sin that puts you beyond the grace of God except rejecting His grace. Jesus calls this “the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” and it will not be forgiven. It means that you know the claims and works of Jesus are true, but you reject them anyway. This is exactly what the Pharisees were doing—rejecting God’s grace displayed through Jesus. It wasn’t rejecting Jesus out of ignorance (although many did because they didn’t understand who He was or where He came from, but they could still be forgiven, like Paul), but this was rejecting the undeniable work of the Holy Spirit through Jesus. They rejected the obvious truth of Jesus by describing it as a work of Satan. Anyone who knows the truth (which is testified by the Holy Spirit) and rejects it will not be forgiven in this world or in the world to come—never.
John 15:26; 16:14-15; 1 Timothy 1:13
- 12:33-37 Who are you? A tree, wether good or corrupt, is known by its fruit, good fruit or corrupt fruit, because it can only produce that kind of fruit. The Pharisees were like vipers—deadly venomous snakes, because of their message and hard hearts could only kill. It symbolized evil and therefore they couldn’t speak or produce good. Just like the tree a person is known by his/her fruit—which is his/her speech. The speech that flows out of the heart “our inner being” reveals what we really value (treasure) wether it is good or evil, thus revealing what kind of person we are. Our speech reveals the state of our heart, even our “idle” words, those words that we speak without much forethought or consideration reveal the true nature of what we believe and thus we will give account for them in the day of judgement. Our words—those heart revealing words—will justify us or condemn us. For the Pharisees, their words of attributing the obvious works of the Holy Spirit from God through Jesus to Satan was revealing the condition of their hearts as evil. Jesus cast a devil out of a man and restored his speech and eyesight, but they didn’t value the truth, thus they blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.
- What did the two groups of people believe about Jesus?
- What was Jesus’ three rebuttals to the Pharisees?
- What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?
- What reveals what a person values or believes?
- What is the decision that Jesus is confronting you with?
Memory Verse: Matthew 12:21
12:14-17a Conspiracy, Retreat, Healing, Obscurity
- 12:1-14 Conspiracy: The Pharisees have been trying to deceive Jesus and prove that He approves of actions that are contrary to the law of God. Jesus goes on the defensive and explains their actions aren’t contrary to the law. The Pharisees (whom represent religion) show themselves to be the ones that are deceptive and hypocritical and Jesus (whom represents the truth) shows Himself to be the one that is honest and merciful. The Pharisees were offended by Jesus actions of mercy and held a council to conspire against Him and how they might destroy Him. Truth was a threat to their religious system.
- 12:15a Retreat: When Jesus knew they were plotting a conspiracy to murder Him He left that place. His time had not yet come to die, therefore He fled that place to avoid the persecution from those Pharisees until His mission on earth was accomplished. (As believers, we are permitted to flee persecution so that we can continue our ministry, but there may be a point in time where we will be called to sacrifice our lives—like Jesus will when He dies on the cross.) He didn’t stay there to provoke them, but moved on to the next group of people so that He could continue to minister.
- 12:15b Healing: Great multitudes of people followed Jesus and He healed all that came to Him for healing. Unlike today’s false healing ministries that are characterized by cheating people out of money and the healers’ inability to heal a person on the basis of the sick person’s lack of faith—Jesus’ healing ministry never failed. All who came to Him were healed, because Jesus’ healing ability is based on who He is, not on the faith of the sick person. Jesus was willing to heal all that came to Him. He had 100% success rate.
- 12:16-17a Obscurity: Then Jesus charged the great multitude to not make Him known. This seems like a strange request. The multitude that was following Him probably came to the knowledge and belief that Jesus truly was the Messiah. But they probably would have mistakenly believed that the Messiah would exercise His authority to forcefully or violently overtake the governmental authorities of their day and setup His kingdom on earth. But this wasn’t Jesus’ mission or the mission of the Messiah. Because of Jesus’ authority and power displayed through His teaching and marvelous works those in authority positions already felt threatened by Jesus’ influence over people. It seems as if Jesus didn’t want the wrong information to be spread around and that He would show people who He was by fulfilling the prophecy of the Messiah.
12:17b-21 Characteristics Of The Prophesied Messiah
- 12:17b There is scriptural support for all that Jesus is doing and it all points to Him being the Messiah. Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1-4 in part to direct our attention to the person of Jesus showing that He fulfills or will fulfill the expectations of the true Messiah.
- 12:18a The Messiah is God’s Servant—Jesus came as a servant, as a slave. He was equal with God but He came to fulfill the will of God through humbling Himself by taking on the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man. His first coming would be that of the “Suffering Servant” but His second coming will be that of the “Reigning King”.
- 12:18b The Messiah is chosen by God—Jesus was specifically chosen by God and set apart for a special task: that the world might be saved through Him. God didn’t send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, but He was to humble Himself and became obedient unto the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:8; John 3:16-17
- 12:18c The Messiah is loved by God and God’s soul is well pleased by Him—When Jesus was baptized God from heaven, said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It confirmed Jesus as the Son of God (meaning He is equal with God), as well as that Jesus is fully loved and all of His actions are pleasing to God Himself.
- 12:18d The Messiah has God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit—Jesus received the Holy Spirit at His baptism which was a unique endowment from God which will enable Him to accomplish the mission that God has for Him.
- 12:18e The Messiah will proclaim judgment to the Gentiles—Jesus not only reached out to the Jews but also to the Gentiles (everyone who isn’t a Jew). He would inform the Gentiles of God’s message and will make sure that justice takes place—salvation for those who accept the message and judgment for those who reject it.
John 12:49-50; 1 John 2:2; Romans 3:29
- 12:19 The Messiah won’t quarrel (strive), scream (cry), or be noisy (voice in the streets)—Jesus didn’t come to argue His position and message in a noisy, angry or disruptive manner. He didn’t utter the message in a loud harsh sounding voice. Nor is Jesus raising His voice in the main streets to gain publicity. He doesn’t use any of these forcible tactics to push forward His agenda. His objective isn’t to start a revolution, revolt or riot. Instead He has a quiet, peaceable and submissive approach to accomplish His mission.
Matthew 26:39, 48-53, 59-63; 27:12-14; Luke 23:35-37
- 12:20 The Messiah will through gentleness and lowliness bring victory to the downtrodden—Jesus doesn’t ignore the sinful and rejected people of society like a person would break a bruised reed or like quenching a smoking flax (because both are seen as useless), but it is those that He came to ministers to until He brings about judgment or justice into victory—meaning in the end the Messiah will cause justice to triumph. Jesus preached the gospel to the poor, to the most needy and often neglected part of society to give them hope.
Matthew 11:4-6; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
- 12:21 The Messiah will be the person (the name) the Gentiles put their hope (trust) in—Jesus will be highly exalted by God and His name will be above every name and there will be no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that He is the Christ, the Lord—to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12
- What was the conspiracy at hand? Why?
- Who retreated? Why?
- Who did Jesus heal?
- What did Jesus charge the great multitude to do? Why?
- What are the characteristics of the prophesied Messiah? Does Jesus fulfill them?
Memory Verse: Matthew 12:6-8
12:1-8 Religion Condemns, Jesus Defends
- 12:1-2 Religion condemns: At that time—around the same time period that Jesus was offering His invitation for others to “come to Him” He went on the sabbath day through the corn and His disciples were plucking it to eat because they were hungry. But when the Pharisees (a sect who hypocritically try to follow the law, making their own rules and regulations thus making their own form of religion—which illustrates the weakness of all religion) saw it, they asked Jesus why His disciples “do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.” The law of the Old Testament allowed them to “pluck the ears with thine hand” from the corn of their neighbors so they weren’t “stealing” the corn, but the Pharisees saw this as “work on the Sabbath” which was forbidden by the law.
Deuteronomy 23:25; Exodus 20:8-11
- 12:3-8 Jesus defends: Jesus goes on the defensive and explains the exception to the law under “extenuating circumstances” and why it isn’t contrary to it.
- First, He proves His point by pointing to two stories in the Old Testament asking the Pharisees, “Have ye not read?” They have misunderstood God’s intention for the Sabbath and made it into something that it was never intended to be. Therefore, Jesus teaches two lessons: (1) A lesson learned from an incident: When David and those that were with Him was hungry—in the same way the disciples were—He entered the house of God and ate the shewbread even though it was not lawful for him or those that were with him to eat it but only for the priests. David was not condemned for this because the hunger or “circumstance” overruled the regulation of who could eat the shewbread in that specific instance. Jesus is greater than David so how much more is it blameless for Him and His disciples to satisfy their hunger on the sabbath. (2) A lesson learned from the law itself: On the sabbath days the priests in the temple were to offer sacrifices, which was work and would profane the sabbath, but this work superseded the limitation of working on the Sabbath and they were blameless.
1 Samuel 21:1-6; Numbers 28:9-10
- Second, Jesus argues that if all of these “lesser” things and people were blameless then how much more blameless are these “greater” things and people. He continues saying that: “In this place is one greater than the temple.”—Jesus and what He was doing on Earth, ushering in the Kingdom of God, was greater than all the temple had accomplished.
- Third, Jesus says that if they knew what the following phrase meant: “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice,” then they wouldn’t have condemned the guiltless—like they just did with the disciples. It means that the “moral standards” (inward) are more important than the “ceremonial requirements” (outward) of the law. Jesus was calling out the Pharisees hypocrisy. They were focused on sacrifice and burnt offerings more than having mercy and knowing God. Outwardly they were religious but inwardly they weren’t. They weren’t people of compassion but of condemnation.
- Fourth, He justifies all that He has said by claiming that, “The Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” Jesus is the Son of Man and He is claiming ultimate authority that is equal with God. Who are the Pharisees to make a judgment of what is right or wrong concerning observing the Sabbath in the presence of the One who is the Master of it?
Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13
12:9-14 Jesus is Honest, Merciful; Religion is Deceptive, Hypocritical
- 12:9-10 Religion is deceptive: When Jesus left the place He was at, He went into Pharisees’ synagogue and there was a man that had a withered hand. The Pharisees’ tried to accuse Jesus by asking Him the following question: “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?” Again the question was asked: (1) out of a misunderstanding of what the rules were for observing the sabbath day; (2) out of a deceiving attitude that didn’t want to know the truth but wanted to find a reason to accuse Jesus. Religion often twists the truth or changes rules so that it can always find a way to deceive others and accuse them of doing wrong instead of desiring to showing mercy and doing good.
- 12:11-12a Jesus is honest: Jesus ask them a rhetorical question in response to the question they asked Him: “What man shall there be among 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?” The answer to this question is obvious, no one would wait until it wasn’t the sabbath day to save his one and only sheep if it fell into a pit on the sabbath. They would do what it took to save it even on the sabbath day. Then Jesus continues with another rhetorical question: “How much then is a man better than a sheep?” Again, the answer if obvious, mankind is infinity more important and valuable than sheep. We were made in the likeness and image of God Himself. Therefore, if we would be willing to exert effort for these “lesser sheep” on the sabbath and were blameless then how much more blameless are we if we exert effort for these “greater people.”
- 12:12b-13 Jesus is merciful: All of these “from less to greater” arguments point to one conclusion about the sabbath: “It is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.” There is no law against doing good on the sabbath. “Good” overrules the “restrictions” of the sabbath. Therefore, Jesus is answering their question in the positive: “Yes, it is lawful to heal on the sabbath days.” Jesus goes on to prove what He says by saying to the man with the withered hand “Stretch forth thine hand” and the man stretched it forth and it was restored whole, just like his other hand. Jesus had mercy on this man and healed him on the sabbath. Maybe you have been living under the condemnation of religion your whole life, but today Jesus is offering you mercy—will you leave your religion for mercy?
- 12:14 Religion is hypocritical: The Pharisees were offended by Jesus actions of mercy and left the synagogue. Why? Because Jesus called into question their understanding of the law—their whole belief system and authority. They even missed the big picture—Jesus just healed a man—something that He couldn’t have done apart from the power of God, thus God approved of it happening on the sabbath. Then they held a council to conspire against Jesus and how they might destroy Him. Those who were so worried about observing the sabbath lawfully are not plotting a conspiracy to murder Jesus. When religion gets offended by the truth it often responds with hypocrisy and violence.
- What are Jesus’ four points of defense agains the first accusation?
- How does Jesus respond to the second accusation?
- What overrules the “restrictions” of the sabbath?
- How do the Pharisees parallel religion in general?
- Who is greater than religion?
Memory Verse: Matthew 11:28
11:20-24 Truth Brings Repentance Or Judgement
- 11:20 Jesus began to harshly criticize the cities where “most of His mighty works were done” because they didn’t repent. Jesus’ mission was to save the world not judge it. His mighty works were evidence of who He was and the truth that He taught. But many people still chose not to repent—a change of mind, heart, and life based on the understanding of truth or turning away from sin and turning to God. Therefore, in the last day, the truth that Jesus spoke will judge all who reject Him. The inhabitants of these cities were guilty of not taking Jesus seriously. The purpose of Jesus performing miracles was to lead people to repentance, but instead the people were indifferent to Jesus.
- 11:21-22 Jesus continues “Woe”—and interjection of grief or denunciation, and then address two cities by name: Chorazin and Bethsaida—Jewish cities of Galilee. He criticizes them for not repenting after He did mighty works among them. Then He said that if the same mighty works that were done there had been done in Tyre and Sidon—wicked Gentile cities of Phoenicia, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes— public signs of repentance and grief over one’s sin. Because they rejected the truth that was testified by the mighty works, they would be have a harsh judgment—it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment. This points to those who have a greater opportunity to repent but don’t will be judged more severely than those who have less opportunity—thus there must be different degrees of punishment.
- 11:23-24 Next, Jesus turns to a third city: Capernaum—a Jewish City of Galilee where Jesus’ home was. This city thought that it would be “exalted unto heaven”—meaning they thought heaven would be their final destination, but Jesus corrects their thinking and tells them they will “be brought down to hell.” Heaven is the highest point and represents eternal joy in the presence of God, whereas hell is the lowest point and represents eternal punishment in the absence of God. Why hell? Because they were indifferent to the mighty works that Jesus did in their midst and refused to repent. He goes on to say that if these mighty works were done in Sodom—a wicked Gentile City that was destroyed for their sin—it would have remained until this day. Just like the other two cities, because they rejected the truth that was testified by the mighty works that they would have a harsh judgment—it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment. Why? Because they experience the works and words of Jesus, but ultimately rejected Him.
11:25-30 Jesus Invitation: “Come Unto Me.”
- 11:25-26 At that time—around the same time Jesus was criticizing these three cities for not repenting, He says a little prayer. First, Jesus addresses God as Father, and the Lord of heaven and earth. Second, Jesus thanks God because He had hid “these things” from the wise and prudent, and had revealed them unto babes. This means that God’s plan of revealing His will and truth does not come through standards of conventional human wisdom which often lead to pride, but reveals it to “babes” or those who are humble and willing to believe like a child does. A wise and prudent person is one who has good intellect, education, and thus can comprehend most things, but their intelligence often causes them to see themselves as superior to others and they choose to rely on their wisdom instead of placing a simple child-like faith in Jesus. This is the way that God has planned it and it seemed good in His sight. It doesn’t matter if you are wise or not, the truth is received by everyone the same way—through a humble faith.
1 Corinthians 1:18-19; 2:6-8
- 11:27 Jesus reveals God to us. Jesus tells us about His relationship with God. (1) All things are passed on to Jesus from God. Therefore, His teachings are the direct words and will of God without error. (2) Jesus says that God is His Father. This means Jesus is claiming to be the Son of God—the closest relationship with God that anyone could have and a term that basically means that He is claiming to be equal with God. (3) No man knows Jesus but God. No man knows God but Jesus and whoever Jesus reveals God to. Jesus is saying that He has true knowledge of God and that He can reveal this knowledge to others. God was not unapproachable or unknowable—for Jesus has approached Him and has a relationship with Him. At that time, apart from God, those He was speaking to didn’t fully understand who Jesus was. Jesus was claiming something higher than human observation could comprehend—that God was revealing Himself to mankind through His Son Jesus and that it would ultimately be Him who died for their sins to save them.
- 11:28a Jesus invites us to come to Him. If you want to know God then you have to come to Jesus—the One who reveals God to others. He has a real relationship and knowledge of God and is willing to tell us. He is the way, the truth and the life.
- 11:28b Jesus invites all to come to Him, even the troubled—those who labour and are heavy laden. This is a metaphor that means those who are wearied from all of life’s troubles and sin—just like a person is exhausted from being overworked, through great strain or stress and have a heavy load they are trying to carry and causes great exhaustion. It is to this person that is overwhelmed by life’s troubles, sin and trying to earn salvation through good works or keeping the laws and rules of religion that Jesus invites to come to Himself. You don’t have to clean up your life first, start doing good, or fulfill all the rules, but you come to Jesus just as you are, with all of your problems and sin.
- 11:28c Jesus offers to give rest to the troubled. This is continuing the metaphor that in the same way taking a break from your working activities in order to be refreshed is rest, Jesus is offering you salvation by grace, not by our own effort or works, and it gives us a peace that passes all understanding. Jesus is offering to forgive our sins and to bear the heavy load that we couldn’t bear ourselves. If you are tired from all of life problem’s or sin, tired from trying to be the best you can but to only fail, tired of trying to fulfill all the requirements of your religion to be accepted by a “god,” then come to Jesus, He offers rest.
Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 4:7
- 11:29-30 Jesus wants us to be His disciples. He tells those who come to Him: (1) to take His yoke upon them—meaning that we are to come under His headship and be submissive to Him and work together. His yoke is easy and His burden is light—the fear, worry and guilt that comes with life’s trouble and sin can be replaced with Jesus’ yoke. (2) To learn of Him—meaning that Jesus is a meek (gentle, mild) and lowly (humble, not arrogant or prideful) teacher and if we as His disciples learn how to be like Him then we will find rest for our souls—we no longer have to worry about earning our salvation through religious works or being good, but He freely gives it and teaches us how to live.
- Why did Jesus harshly criticize the cities where most of His mighty works were done?
- Jesus reveals who to us?
- Jesus invites who to come to Him?
- Jesus offers to give what to who?
- Jesus wants us to be His what?
Memory Verse: Matthew 11:13
11:12-15 John The Baptist Represented A Monumental Shift
- 11:1-11 John the Baptist, who is in jail at this time, wanted some reassurance that Jesus was truly the One—the Christ, the Messiah. Jesus told John’s disciples to look at the evidence, those things which they do hear and see, which were miraculous wonders that pointed to Jesus as being the One. Jesus then questions the multitude about John the Baptist, explaining that John the Baptist is more than a prophet because He is also the fulfillment of prophecy to prepare the way for the Christ. Even as great as John the baptist was, He was part of the dispensation that didn’t have the full understanding and experience of Jesus—thus all believers, even the most humble of believers, is greater than John the Baptist because of the privileged position they are able to experience—to know and believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- 11:12 From the days of John the Baptist—meaning since he started his ministry of preparing the way for Jesus, who is the Christ, until now—the time in the story that Jesus is addressing the multitude, the kingdom of heaven “suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” This is a hard statement to understand but it probably means that the kingdom of heaven, from its preparation through it’s inaugurated by Jesus has struggled hard from opposition and rejection characterized by violence and persecution from many Jews and religious leaders.
- 11:13 John’s ministry pointed to a change in how things were going to work. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. God would communicate His will to His people through His prophets and the law. But they were both limited—“until John”. These two ways of revealing God’s will had a limited duration as God had a better way to reveal His will to us. Together, these two would equal the whole of the Old Testament, and indicate that it was given as precursory to Jesus coming, but their work of “prophesying” went up until John started His ministry and doesn’t go beyond that. This doesn’t mean that they were no longer significant, but all that they prophesied about is starting to be fulfilled and a new dispensation is going to take place that extends beyond their revelation. Since John’s ministry was preparatory work for the Messiah—who Jesus claims to be, then the focus of God’s revelation turns to Jesus.
- Dispensations are certain periods of time in which God works in certain ways in the world based on His own divine will and administration.
- Salvation has always been “by faith” but in the Old Testament they had “faith in God” and His promise but in the New Testament they had “faith in Jesus”.
Galatians 3:11; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 4:3
- 11:14 This would have been hard for the multitude to hear. There would be many emotions and attitudes from those considering the words of Jesus. Jesus was trying to bring out a great truth about the role of John the Baptist and what his ministry meant: Everything is about to change, the Messiah is here. Jesus told the multitude that, “If ye will receive it”—meaning that if they would believe everything that Jesus said about John is true, then they could also believe the next statement about John the Baptist—“this is Elias, which was for to come.” This was a prophecy that Elijah (Elias) would return before “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Jesus states that John is the fulfillment of this prophecy, not physically being Elijah (John denied that), but “in the spirit and power of Elias” accomplishing the work that it was prophesied for him to do.
Malachi 4:5, 6; Matthew 17:12-13; Luke 1:17; John 1:21
- 11:15 After saying this, Jesus commands the people—“he that hath ears to hear”—an expression used to refer to anyone—“let him hear”—not meaning that we are just to listen to what is said, but to pay close attention, understand and to respond in conformity. It is the responsibility of individuals to hear this message and heed to it through repentance and faith. For a Jew who was engulfed in his national identity and traditions, this was a hard message to accept. Today, you might have the same problem of giving up everything you thought you knew for something radically new to you. But would you rather guard your traditions or know the truth—the truth that can set you free. Their would have been peer pressure to not accept Jesus’ teachings. Many probably rejected the message for fear of those they were around. There is probably society or peer pressure for you to reject this message, but Jesus is calling you to receive it.
11:16-19 Jesus’ Comparison
- 11:16-17 Jesus knows what those around Him are thinking. So He thinks of a comparison to help explain their attitudes and actions. He said that they are like children sitting in the markets and calling unto their friends saying, “We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.” The children tried to invoke a reaction from their friends, but they didn’t cooperate. So Jesus is saying that the people who he is teaching in the same manner are hearing and be invoked but they aren’t cooperating. They have no reaction. They wouldn’t be happy or sad. Jesus goes on to apply this in the next two verses.
- 11:18-19a Application: (1) John came neither eating nor drinking—meaning that he had a very strict diet that he followed and was not characterized be eating normally. Therefore, people said, “He hath a devil”—meaning they rejected his message, saying that he ate weird because he was of the devil and refused to conform to his message of repentance. (2) The Son of man (Jesus) came eating and drinking—meaning that he didn’t have a very strict diet that he followed and was characterized be eating normally. Therefore, people said, “Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners”—meaning they rejected his message, saying that him eating normal meant he was someone who was devoted to overeating, drinking and becoming drunk. Also, they said because He ate in the company of publicans and sinners that He was their friend or someone who approved of their sinful lifestyle. Thus, they refused to rejoice that Jesus, the Messiah, had come. No matter if it was John or Jesus, they refused to cooperate.
- 19b Jesus ends this comparison by pointing at that even though many have rejected the “wisdom” that has been given, it will be “justified” or be shown as right by “her children” or the lives and actions of those who accept it. This wasn’t something that was to be discussed and decided on but it was something to be believed and lived out, thus proven it to be true. Some will reject it, others will prove it to be true.
- What was prophesying “until John”?
- What are dispensations?
- “In the spirit and power of” who did John fulfill the prophecy?
- What did Jesus’ comparison point out?
- How is wisdom proven right?