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Matthew Chapter  12:1-30  

Memory verses for this week:   1 Pet 1:7  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 

Introduction: In last week’s lesson, we studied about Jesus going forth to preach and teach just like he had told the disciples to do.  We then discussed how that John the Baptist was the greatest man ever to live according to Christ.  At the end of the chapter, we discussed how there are two kinds of rest.   One we receive when we are saved.  The other we earn as we take the yoke of Christ upon us. 


I.   Jesus Declares Himself Lord of the Sabbath 

Mat 12:1  At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.

Mat 12:2  But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

The Sabbath day was a day given for the complete rest of man.  In the record of creation, God, who can not tire, set an example for us and rested on the seventh day.  We are not like God, and need rest.   Many today think they can work seven days a week, but it takes its toll. 

Gen 2:1  Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

Gen 2:2  And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

Gen 2:3  And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. 

Later, God made the rest of the Sabbath as part of the law.   To break this law meant one would be put to death. 

Exo 20:8  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Exo 20:9  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

Exo 20:10  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

Exo 20:11  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.


Num 15:32  And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.

Num 15:33  And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.

Num 15:34  And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.

Num 15:35  And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

Num 15:36  And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses. 

In our text, Jesus’ disciples were hungry and they plucked the ears of corn as they walked through the fields on the Sabbath.   If we look over in Deuteronomy, we find that it was legal to pluck the ears of the cord from their neighbor’s field.

Deu 23:25  When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn. 

The Pharisees were forever looking to find fault with Christ, and they charge them with breaking the law of the Sabbath Day.   There were not many things that could be done legally on Saturday, but we find that it was allowed to relieve both human or animal suffering on the Sabbath. 

Luke 14:1  And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

Luke 14:2  And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

Luke 14:3  And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

Luke 14:4  And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

Luke 14:5  And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

Luke 14:6  And they could not answer him again to these things.


Mat 12:3  But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;

Mat 12:4  How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

Mat 12:5  Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

Mat 12:6  But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

Mat 12:7  But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

Mat 12:8  For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. 

Jesus speaks of two incidents in the Old Testament to show the justification of the disciples gathering and eating the corn on the Sabbath day. 

1 Sam 21:5  And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.

1 Sam 21:6  So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the showbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.

The bread in God’s house was for the priests, but they took it and gave some to David. 

Num 28:9  And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof:

Num 28:10  This is the burnt offering of every sabbath, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.

 Jesus points out that the priest offered two lambs for an offering on the Sabbath day, and they were not held to be breakers of the Sabbath.  Jesus makes a good defense, and then says in verse 7, “But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.”  The Temple embodied all that was most sacred in the life of the nation; yet Jesus declares that He is greater than all the worship, symbols, and laws of the house of God.  He then declares in verse 8 that he is the Lord of the Sabbath.   Jesus was, and still is, LORD OF ALL.   All things were created by him, and without Him nothing was created. 

John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God.

John 1:3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.


II.  The Healing of the Withered Hand on the Sabbath 

Mat 12:9  And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:

Mat 12:10  And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

Jesus entered the Synagogue and set an example for us that we need to worship God on the appointed day.  People want so much sometimes to not worship God that they may push the ox into the ditch so they can stay away from church and not worship.   The divinely appointed day for worship should be honored.   For Christians, our day is Sunday and we should rest and worship the Lord on that day.   The only valid reasons for missing services on Sunday is to do works of necessity and to provide mercy.   (Helping the sick or infirmed.) The Pharisees watch to see if the can find fault in Christ and see if he might break the Sabbath law. 

Mat 12:11  And he said unto them, 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?

Mat 12:12  How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

Mat 12:13  Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. 

Jesus uses good logic in his question.   If it is allowed for a man to pull a sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath, surely it would be legal to heal a man on the Sabbath.  Man is certainly more important in the eyes of God than animals.   Our society has lost track of that.  It is illegal to destroy an eagle’s egg, but you can legally kill a baby by abortion.  God help our nation to get our priorities straightened out. 

J. Vernon McGee questioned whether the Pharisees might have put the man with the withered hand where Christ would come upon him.   I don’t know for sure, but I know for sure one thing.  Jesus healed the man. 

Was this man with the withered hand “planted” there, deliberately, by the Pharisees to trap Jesus into healing him? If so, then there are two important admissions on the part of the enemies of Jesus:

1.         They admitted He had power to heal the sick. As we have seen, the enemies of Jesus never questioned His ability to perform miracles. You have to be two thousand years away from it and working in a musty library on a master’s or doctor’s degree before you can question His miracles. The Pharisees freely admitted that He had power to heal the sick. This is why they planted this man with the withered hand.

2.         They acknowledged that when a helpless man was placed in His pathway, He was moved by compassion to heal him, even on the Sabbath day. What an admission!

Their question about the legality of healing on the Sabbath day was designed to trap Him. But Jesus actually trapped His enemies. They conceded that a sheep should be rescued on the Sabbath day—in fact, the Mosaic Law made allowances for that.


How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days [Matt. 12:12].

This is the crux of the whole matter: Should He do good on the Sabbath day? Regardless of their answer—


Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other [Matt. 12:13].

Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath day. Did He break the Law? What is your answer? My answer is that He did not break the Law.  [i]

Mat 12:14  Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. 

As soon as the Pharisees see the man healed, they don’t rejoice like they should.  Rather they go out and plot how they might destroy Christ.   


III.  Jesus And The Multitudes 

Mat 12:15  But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; 

What the Pharisees were planning was not a surprise to Christ.  He knew all things, and could perceive even their thoughts.   God knows us that way.  He knows us better than we know ourselves, and knows what we will and will not do.   If we are good, we will do good from the heart.  If evil, we will do evil. 

Luke 6:45  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Luke 6:46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 

Jesus withdraws from the Pharisees and a great multitude followed him.   But when he taught serious doctrine, many turned back.   Multitudes will come if you do good for them and feed them.  But the true worshippers will stay even when things are tough and the teachings condemn the heart.  If our hearts are right with God, we will want to bring our lives back inline with God’s commandments and laws.

 John 6:53  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

John 6:54  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:55  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

John 6:56  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

John 6:57  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

John 6:58  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

John 6:59  These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

John 6:60  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

John 6:61  When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

John 6:62  What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

John 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

John 6:64  But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

John 6:65  And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

John 6:66  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

John 6:67  Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?


Mat 12:16  And charged them that they should not make him known:

Mat 12:17  That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

Mat 12:18  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 show judgment to the Gentiles.

Mat 12:19  He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

Mat 12:20  A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Mat 12:21  And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. 

Jesus healed the multitudes, and not the Jews only.  Christ came first to the house of Israel, but he also came for the Gentiles.  I am so thankful that he did.   Matthew records here how Christ withdrawing was a fulfillment of scripture from Isaiah.  Christ was one who was meek and gentle.   He was always one who did not strive nor cry aloud.  And there will come a time when he will appear in triumph and victory.   It says in verse 21 that in Christ’s name the Gentiles do trust.  There is not another name under heaven by which we can be saved than Jesus Christ. 

Acts 4:10  Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Acts 4:11  This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

Acts 4:12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.


IV.  The Pharisees Oppose Christ’s Power to Cast Out Demons 

Mat 12:22  Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.

Mat 12:23  And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

Mat 12:24  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. 

Jesus was always out helping people.  He had the heart of a pastor and a shepherd.  He wanted to make people well and for them to have the best possible life.   Jesus healed the blind and dumb.   The people were amazed and asked, “Is not this the son of David?”  Yes, he was from the line of David, but He was so much more.  This was the very begotten Son of God.   The attitude of the Pharisees was evil.  They don’t give God credit but claim that Jesus cast out the devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.

Mat 12:25  And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

Mat 12:26  And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

Mat 12:27  And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.

Mat 12:28  But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

Mat 12:29  Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

Mat 12:30  He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 

Jesus knew the very thoughts of the Pharisees… and he answers them.  Their argument was foolish.   Why would Satan cast out his own demons.   To do so would divide his own kingdom and it would not stand.   Jesus cast out demons just like he did all things.. but the power and Spirit of God.   Verse 30 points out that anyone who is not with Christ is against Him.  There is no middle ground.


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.