Skip to main content

Who Repents? Matthew 12

In Summary:

Matthew 12 opens with an incident in a field. Jesus and the disciples are passing through a field and, in line with Deuteronomy 23:24-25, the disciples pluck a few heads of grain, roll them in their hands, and eat. It was not stealing, and it was not wrong. Except they did this on the Sabbath.

Which leads into a discussion about the Sabbath laws and how God designed the Sabbath for a purpose. Excessive legalism, Jesus points out, was not that purpose. The following events show Jesus healing on the Sabbath, which is another violation of the technical rules the Pharisees had added to the Fourth Commandment (see Exodus 20:8-11.) The first question here is whether or not Jesus knows what the Ten Commandments (and the rest of the Law) meant. The Pharisees have their doubts about that. Jesus was around when the Law was written, though, so I’d side with His understanding.

We then see Jesus heal a demon-possessed man, which would be cause for celebration for any reasonable people. We’re dealing with Pharisees here, though, so reasonable is something to be hoped for rather than a certainty. The Pharisees here (and we can hope they are not representative of all the Pharisees ever) find that Jesus must be up to something with the demons rather than being against the demons. Jesus highlights the nonsense of that statement. This pairs with His declaration that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be tolerated—here we see Jesus show where His true allegiance is. He is part of the unbreakable reality that is the Triune God.

In Focus:

Let us take a close look at Matthew 12:38-39 today. First, see what the scribes and the Pharisees want. They want a sign. Essentially, they want to see Jesus perform a miracle to show that He’s legitimate. This comes after the Pharisees have condemned not one but two miracles in recent events.

Jesus turns the tables on them and points out that others have repented and believed with far fewer signs. He selects the city of Nineveh as one example—the capital of Assyria had, after all, repented at the simple preaching of Jonah. Jesus then points His accusers to the Queen of the South (the Queen of Sheba from 1 Kings 10) and highlights how she responded to Solomon’s wisdom. In both cases, the thought is finished with the statement that something greater than what those heathens had available is now here. This is also in 12:6 in reference to the Temple—some “thing” greater is here, and that “thing” is the Lamb of God.

The Israelites should have responded. They had the background information which neither Assyria nor Sheba had, the background relationship with God, and then they have God Himself present. Instead, they demand more signs. Jesus states unequivocally they will get one sign, and it is His resurrection.

In Practice:

It behooves us to pull a few practical points from this chapter. First and foremost: are we really any different in our asking God for signs about Jesus? Really? Very often we still want a sign. God, I’ll believe if…even in churches. We’ll believe we’re obeying if we see success. We’ll believe that someone is saved if they shape up and look like a traditional Baptist. We’ll think this…

But the sign we should depend on is the one we already have: He is risen!

Then, let us consider how we evaluate what God has done. We have one criterion to use, and it’s this: does it match with what God has said? Not whether it fits our likes and dislikes, but whether or not it conforms to God’s revealed word. If it does, then that should be all we need.

Let us stop being particular about the traditions of man, like not healing on the Sabbath, and focus on the Greater One who is here, now.

In Nerdiness: 

For all the nerds out there: take Matthew 12:36 to heart and think about useless and careless words. We tend to use them, and we ought not.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Abraham Lincoln Quoted by Jesus! Mark 3

Mark records a curious event in his third chapter (link). If you look at Mark 3:25, you'll see that Jesus quotes the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. After all, one of the highlights of the Lincoln years is his famous speech regarding slavery in the United States where he used the phrase that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." This speech was given in 1858 when he accepted the nomination to run against Stephen A. Douglas for Senate, but is still remembered as the defining speech regarding slaveholding in the United States. I recall being taught in school how brilliant and groundbreaking the speech was, how Lincoln had used such wise words to convey his thought. Yet the idea was not original to Lincoln. Rather, it was embedded in Lincoln from his time reading the Bible. Now, I have read varying reports about Lincoln's personal religious beliefs: some place him as a nearly completely committed Christian while others have him somewh…

Book: Vindicating the Vixens

Well, if Vindicating the Vixens doesn’t catch your attention as a book title, I’m not sure what would. This volume, edited by Sandra L. Glahn (PhD), provides a look at some of the women of the Bible who are “Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized.” As is frequently the case, I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my review.Let’s take this a stage at a time. First stage: book setup. This is primarily an academic Biblical Studies book. Be prepared to see discussions of Greek and Hebrew words, as appropriate. You’ll also need a handle on the general flow of Biblical narrative, a willingness to look around at history, and the other tools of someone who is truly studying the text. This is no one-day read. It’s a serious study of women in the Bible, specifically those who either faced sexual violence or who have been considered sexually ‘wrong’ across years of study.A quick note: this book is timely, not opportunistic. The length of time to plan, assign, develop, and publish a multi…