I Desire Mercy Not Sacrifice
Comments for Study 17
Memory Verse: 7
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Matthew's gospel is not in chronological order. Matthew is interested in pointing out the Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of God. Matthew makes this point systematically. The Messiah (Christ) Jesus is forever the King of the Kingdom of Heaven which will soon be bought to earth, "They kingdom come. They will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
This chapter shows the spiritual battle that Jesus engaged in while doing God's work as the Messiah.
I. Jesus Helps People with God's Mercy (1-21)
>1. What did Jesus' disciples do one Sabbath day when they were hungry? (Deuteronomy 23:24,25) Why did the Pharisees criticize them? What was the motive of their criticism?
Matthew 12:1 "At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them."
* "At that time" -The time referred to here was the time that started in 11:1 which says, "After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee." According to verse 12:9, they were on their way to the synagogue. This is reasonable because it was the Sabbath, probably in the morning. This is also seen in the fact that verses 12 and 13 were this same day. It is even probable that 11:2-30 were the same day. From this I can see that the Messiah had a busy life, as well as those who followed him.
* "Jesus went through the grain fields" -Jesus did this so that his disciples could eat. He is a good shepherd of his disciples, giving them food to eat.
* "grain" -Grain is very bland.
* "His disciples were hungry" -Being on the road makes a person hungry, especially having to walk from one destination to the other. Jesus' disciples were often walking because they were following Jesus as he ministered in one village after another.
* "pick some heads of grain and eat them" -This was not stealing, but according to the Law of God it was acceptable. Duet. 23:24-25 says, "If you enter your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket. If you enter your neighbor's grain field, you may pick kernels with you hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain." Thus, God's providence provided them food when Jesus lead them.
Matthew 12:2, "When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, 'Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.'"
* "they said to him, 'Your disciples" -The Pharisees made a mountain out of a mole hill. The most harmless act of a disciple of Jesus can be spoken against by the enemies of God.
Mainly the Pharisees wanted to discredit Jesus by discrediting his followers. In doing this they hoped to show that he wasn't really God's servant nor teaching the right things to people. In discrediting Jesus they hoped to gain back the people's following, approval, opinions, and support.
* "unlawful on the Sabbath" -The Pharisees, the teachers of the word of God for Judea in Jesus' time, corrupted the commandments by interpreting them to strictly. They looked at the law from a human point of view. This verse is an example of how they corrupted the fourth commandment. Why were the Pharisees like this? Men of corrupt minds try to atone for the looseness of their morals by criticizing others. They even use the word of God to justify themselves. But the Bible teaches that we should not take or add from the Bible and its meaning. (Prov. 30:6, Rev. 22:16, 19)
The Pharisees did not criticize them for taking the man's grain. Nor did they criticize the disciples directly. Instead they went directly to Jesus. This shows that they were not really concerned about the Sabbath or keeping the Sabbath. It also shows that they didn't really have a shepherd's heart to help people understand and keep the law. If they were concerned about them working on the Sabbath, and saw they were hungry why didn't they give them some of there food or invite them over to their house. They did live in the area for it says in verse nine that it was "their synagogue."
* "Sabbath" -The Sabbath, which is Saturday, is talked about a lot in the New Testament. So the meaning of the day was and still is important to define. This is especially true in the fact that the first church eventually began keeping Sunday, Jesus' resurrection day, as the day of gathering of the church, not the Sabbath. Yet, as Paul teaches, whatever day the church meets to worship God and learn from his word in the Spirit, one must keep it holy.
>2. In defending his disciples' cause, what three Scripture passages did Jesus cite? (1 Samuel 21:2-6; Numbers 28:9, Hosea 6:6) Summarize each. What does it mean when he said, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice"?
Matthew 12:3-6 "He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread--which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.  Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here."
* "He answered" -Jesus defended his disciples as a good shepherd would.
* "Haven't you read" -The Pharisees said that the disciples broke the Law of God. So Jesus quoted the law of God. Knowing the spirit behind the Word of God is important for a man and women of God.
* "David" -Lev. 24:5-9 says that the bread of offering is for the Levities. But out of necessity David did what he would not have done otherwise. David wasn't bound strictly by the law even though he was a great man of God. God never condemned David for this. Now Jesus was showing his blessing on the act as well. Thus the law is flexible in cases of necessity.
1 Samuel 21:2-6 says, "David answered Ahimellech the priest, 'The king charged me with a certain matter and said to me, 'No one is to know anything about your mission and your instructions.' As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.' But the priest answered David, 'I don't have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here-provided the men have kept themselves from women.' David replied, 'Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men's things (bodies) are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!' So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.'"
* "on the Sabbath the priest in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent" - On the Sabbath day the priest were required to do a great deal of work. If the temple service justified the priest in their ministry then serving and following Jesus justified what the disciples did in their ministry. Later, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
Numbers 28:9 tells of the priests activities in the temple. It says, "On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil." Thus, the Sabbath rest was to promote not hinder worshipping God.
* "one greater than the temple is here." -Jesus is the Messiah, God. He is greater than the temple. The disciples served him. The priest served the temple and thus the LORD and his temple. If the priest served the temple and were innocent, then the disciples who served one greater than the temple were surely innocent.
Matthew 12:7-8 "If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.  For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
* "If you had known what these words mean" - The Pharisees obeyed the letter of the law, but they did not understood what they meant. Thus their hearts were wrong. One needs to follow the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. A disciple of Jesus does not worship the law nor is a slave to the law. They are servants of God.
By itself, the law of God can not help anyone, only God can help us. Thus he gave us the law so that with it he will help us lead a life pleasing to him and for the better of others and ourselves.
Jesus is saying that we are free to adapt the law if it is good for God and man, even though it goes against the letter of the law. Even Jesus did what is unlawful by touching dead bodies when he rose them from the dead. The prophets also did this.
* "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" -If the Pharisees would have known mercy they would have felt sorry for the hungry disciples.
Jesus here quotes Hosea 6:6 which stated, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Jesus also quoted this in 9:13 where it meant mercy of man's soul. This time Jesus meant it for mercy of man's body. Body rest is in the fourth law too. (Deuteronomy 5:11)
* "mercy" -Not getting what one deserves.
* "not sacrifice" -Jesus did not mean that sacrifice wasn't important. Just that mercy is at the heart of sacrifice, thus that which God desires.
* "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath" -Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus is the creator of all laws, including the Sabbath. The law alone does not matter; what matters is what comes from the heart based in Jesus the law giver.
>3. What was the problem of the man in the synagogue? How did the Pharisees treat him? What did they ask Jesus? What did Jesus teach them in response? How was Jesus different from the Pharisees?
Matthew 12:9-10a "Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there."
* "Going on from that place" -Jesus left the grain fields. Jesus didn't let the Pharisees accusations keep him from going to the synagogue nor from his mission.
* "he went into their synagogues" -Jesus went into the synagogue of the Pharisees who had been walking with him.
* "a man with a shrivelled hand" -When a hand is shrivelled it has been out of use for some time. Due to torn ligaments and muscles it is made inoperative. When it is not used the muscle become weak. The blood flow decreases. Eventually the hand dies and shrivels.
The hand would have been a problem for the man in many ways. In their hands on society it would have been hard for him to find a job. Also he would have felt ashamed of his hand and hide it from people. Most people don't want to look strange, they want to be like others.
* "was there" -Even though the man was crippled he still came to the place of worship and the word of God. This tells me that he most likely was not bitter toward God.
Matthew 12:10b "Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
* "Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus" -Those whom Jesus taught in the fields, obviously did not accept his words. Rather they thought that they had a way to get him. They knew of Jesus' acts of mercy and wanted to discredit him or at least keep him from doing a miracle and astounding the people. So they used the man with a shrivelled hand to accuse Jesus.
* "'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?'" -Not being able to find a way to discredit Jesus through his disciples actions they looked for a way to discredit Jesus own actions.
They were not logical nor kind hearted, thus their actions were not logical nor kind hearted.
Matthew 12:11 "He said to them, 'If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.'"
* "He said to them" -Jesus' answer was yes, but he did not answer yes directly. Rather he said yes through a parable and then asking them a question. Jesus taught them like this because they knew them. They knew the Bible, but used it for their selfish gains. By doing so they rejected it.
By asking a question Jesus had them answer it in their hearts, if not out loud. Everyone knew the answer. Thus, Jesus' action probably embarrassed them, for they were condemning what they themselves did. Jesus' intent was not to embarrass them, but to help them learn and repent.
* "how much more valuable is man than sheep" -1 Corinthians 9:9-10 says, "For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned?  Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest."
Jesus understood the mercy and love of God. He knew the value of a man, even if he is impaired. Jesus gave life while the Pharisees only destroyed life. Jesus not only knew the word of God but its meaning as well.
* "Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" -Duties are not to be left undone, nor should opportunities of doing good be neglected for fear of giving offence to others. An act of mercy is lawful on the Sabbath, the day of rest.
>4. How did Jesus demonstrate God's mercy on the man? What happened to the man with the shrivelled hand when God's mercy was given to him by Jesus? How did the Pharisees react? What does this show?
Matthew 12:13 "Then he said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other."
* "Stretch out your hand" -A man with a shrivelled hand can not stretch out his hand. But Jesus commanded him to do it any way. When from the heart the man accepted Jesus' words what was impossible for man to do was done.
As all of Jesus ' headings have a spiritual meaning so does this one. By our own strength and effort we can not stretch out to God nor can we ignite faith in us nor can we repent from out sinful habit. But when we hear Jesus' words and are moved by them God gives us the ability to come to him. God gives us faith to do what we can not do.
Matthew 12:14 "But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus."
* "kill him" -Working on the Sabbath was a capital crime. Exodus 35:2 says, "For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death."
* "the Pharisees" -They reacted this way not because Jesus healed on the Sabbath and therefore broke the Sabbath, but because it went against their pride, hypocrisy, and worldly interest.
They did not have spiritual eyes to see this from God's point of view but mans. Who can heal people but the Messiah. Their pride blinded them from the truth and robbed them of spiritual eye sight.
Only a humble man can look at himself from God's perspective truthfully.
>5. Why did Jesus withdraw? How did he continue to help people? According to the quotation from Isaiah, who was Jesus? What do these verses tell us about Jesus, his ministry and his power source?
Matthew 12:15a "Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place."
* "Aware of this" -Being God, Jesus is aware of all things at once.
* "Withdrew" -Jesus did so not because he was afraid, but because the time for his death had not yet come. Jesus himself taught his disciples, "'If anyone will not welcome you or listen to you words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.'" (10:14) Jesus had done enough in that town for the people, especially to the Pharisees, to accept and repent. (Jer. 51:9)
Matthew 12:15b-16 "Many people followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was."
* "Many people followed him" -The religious leaders did not believe in Jesus, but common people did. People's faith is not dependent upon what religious leaders say. God can work in the hearts of people even when the religious leaders reject him. So God is not dependent on religious leaders to work in the hearts of people.
* "he healed all their sick" -When there seems to be no fruit or our labor seems to be in vain we are not to rest. When Satan continually attacks us it is easy to use it for and excuse saying we are to tied to continue carrying our crosses.
* "all" -Many people followed him and Jesus healed them all. His miracles were not random or few in numbers.
* "warning them not to tell who he was" -Jesus kept his identity secret.
Matthew 12:17-21 "This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.'"
* "Here is my servant" -Jesus is the Lord's servant. Jesus was humble enough to take a servants place even though he didn't have too being the Son of God.
* "whom I have chosen" -Jesus is the one the LORD chose. The LORD loves Jesus. The LORD delights in Jesus. The LORD put his Spirit on Jesus. This is his power source. Jesus submitted to the Father's will. Hebrews 5:8, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered."
* "He will proclaim justice to the nations" -Jesus ministry is to proclaim justice to the nations.
* "He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets." -Jesus did not get involved in heated arguments or yelling matches. He did not argue with the Pharisees in the following passage. He will keep his cool and moved on.
* "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory." - This could mean two things. First, The soldering wick is Israel, especially the religious leaders. They were suppose to be lights of God but their light was only a flicker. People could barely tell they were God's people. Yet Jesus would not snuff them out till he dies on the cross ("leads justice to victory.")
Second, a bruised reed was the physical and spiritually sick people who followed Jesus. Jesus helped them to the end.
II. Sin That is Unforgivable (22-37)
>6. Who was the man they brought to Jesus? (22) What happened? (22-24) Why were their responses to this event so obviously wrong?
Matthew 12: 22 "Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see."
* "They" -Most likely referring to the people who followed Jesus, those mentioned in verse fifteen
* "demon-possessed man who was blind and mute" -When we were in Satan's kingdom we were like this man. We had multiple problems. We were susceptible to demon control, to blind to see God and his work, and dumb to speak of God and worship God.
* "Jesus healed him" -Just as Jesus healed this blind man, so when we became a part of his kingdom, Jesus healed us.
Jesus cast out other demons from people and healed others that are not recorded in the Bible. Why then this event? Perhaps because it is the foreground the vary important events that follows. After this Jesus teaches about himself and the way his work is done, through the Holy Spirit. Jesus also teaches about different reactions one can have to the Holy Spirit and result of rejecting the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 23:23-24 "All the people were astonished and said, 'Could this be the Son of David?' But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.'"
* "All the people" -This does not mean of the people in the crowd, as the next sentence shows, but all the people, referring to all the common people.
* "Could this be the Son of David" -Here "Son of David" is the title of the Messiah. All Jews in those days knew that the Messiah was the son of David as prophesied in 1 and 2 Kings. Jesus' miracles were performed, not only for the benefit of those who received the healing, but so that those who saw the miracles would ask just this question, "Is he the Messiah?" This is the way God often works, he does not come straight out, rather he wants us to believe based on what he has said and what he does. My life actions should reflect careful consideration of what the Bible says.
* "But when the Pharisees heard this" -The miracles that Jesus performed made it evident that he was the Messiah, as so many came to ask, "Could this be The Son of David?" Why then were the Pharisees paying attention to what the people were saying about Jesus, and not the facts about Jesus? Obviously because they were not at all concerned about the things of God. Nor did they rejoice that a man was healed and set free from demon possession. Instead, they took offense at the people asking this question. They were jealous of Jesus.
And yet many today are no different then the Pharisees of those days. Jesus came some two thousand years ago and people's characters are still the same? Often we sinners have the wrong perspective of events. Rather than looking at Jesus and the work of God, we look at the reactions of people around us. We not only miss the point, but we aren't even looking for it. We're looking for something else because it threatens our standing in this world. Our eyes are not focused on eternity, but the here and now.
Those who enjoy the praise of men take an uneasiness when other are well spoken of.
* "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons" -In Greek "Beelzeboul". It is of Chaldee origin meaning; "dung-god; Beelzebul, a name of Satan." Thus it means "Lord of the manure pile" or "Lord of the Flies"
* "this fellow" -The Pharisees did not call him by his real name, nor by a respectable title.
* "that this fellow drives out demons" -This statement comes from a distorted belief that the teachers of Jerusalem had in those days. These beliefs were based on books that contained traditional teachings. Somewhere in their history teachings from other religions, or things from prophets that were not, became held in high regard.
They believed and/or suggested that Jesus had a contract with the devil. Either 1) the devil voluntarily left people, or 2) Jesus had a stronger demon in him which cast out lesser demons out of others.
>7. How did the Pharisees explain the work of God through Jesus? How did Jesus show that the Pharisees' thinking was nonsense? (25-29) Who is the strongman who is stronger than the devil? (29)
Matthew 12:25-27 "Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do you people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges."
* "Jesus knew their thoughts" -When Jesus was on this earth he was man. But he was more than a man. Jesus was and is and always will be God. I do not understand the full meaning of this. I can understand how he could be man and God simultaneous. But I do not understand how he could have all the attributes of God, probably because I don't understand all the attributes of God. I can't even understand all the attributes of this universe. I don't even understand myself that well. Yet, my lack of understanding does not take away from the fact of the truth.
Knowing their thoughts Jesus knew what to say to help them accept the truth. Some did, but most stubbornly refused to accept the truth. Whether we accept the truth, or reject it (choosing to ignore it) is what Jesus lets us do. Jesus knows my thoughts today. He knows what will help me and what won't. He leads me into paths to accept the truth. But as in those days, so it is today. Jesus lets me chose and I will pay the consequences of my decisions, or be given a blessing for them.
* "Every kingdom" -Jesus referred to Satan and the fallen angles as a kingdom. Just as God his people and his angles is like a kingdom, so Satan and his demons have a kingdom.
* "every kingdom divided against itself" -When a kingdom is divided it is easy prey of another kingdom because it is weakened.
* "If Satan drives out Satan" -Jesus is addressing the Pharisees accusations made in their thoughts. They believed that Satan was allowing Jesus to cast out demons so that people would be deceived in believing that he is the Messiah. But Jesus is pointing out that Satan allowing demons to be cast out is counter acting against his wills. It is like an attacking army giving up a concurred state full of riches so that it can gain a village in another state. Such an army would soon fall. Thus, if Satan came under a contract with Jesus it would lead to Satan's ruin.
* "by whom do you people drive them out" -The Pharisees also drove out demons. Jesus did not denied that. This points out that not all the Pharisees were like those before Jesus now. Some of the Pharisees were of God's kingdom. Nicodemus and Joseph mentioned in John's gospel were two such men.
* "So then, they will be your judges" -Here, "they" refer to the Pharisees who were doing the work of God by driving out demons.
Matthew 12:28 "But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."
* Here Jesus lead them to a conclusion. Jesus finished the logic for them. Sometimes, I suppose when it was more obvious, Jesus did not finish the logic with a conclusion. However, probably because it was obvious, Jesus did not draw his conclusions out even more. He did not say, "And if the kingdom of God has come upon you through me, I am of God. And since I do the miracles that only the Messiah is said to have done, then I must be the Messiah. And since I am the Messiah, it would be a sin to reject me as such." Rather, Jesus gives them another parable and then gives them a conclusion.
Matthew 12:29 "Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.'"
* Rather than leading them through a logical conclusion right away, Jesus used another analogy to explain his point.
* "anyone" -referring to himself.
* "strong man's house" -Satan's rule is strong. No man from Adam up until Jesus had overcome Satan.
* "carry off his possessions" - Demon possessed people are Satan's possessions that he uses. Jesus enters Satan's rule and carries off those who are under his rule away from his rule. Thus Jesus is describing his saving work.
* "unless he first ties us the strong man" -Before Jesus could carry people out of Satan's rule (house) he first must tie up Satan. In order for Jesus to do this he must be stronger than Satan, which he is. If Jesus could not tie up Satan, than Satan would beat and defeat Jesus.
Jesus was very aggressive and forthright attacked Satan's house.
>8. In what respect did the Pharisees blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Why is this an unforgivable sin? Why must we stand on God's side? (30-32)
Matthew 12:30-32 "'He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.'"
* "He who is not with me is against me" -Now that Jesus made his point he goes on to describe where the Pharisees are at, and where they will be if they do not change. Jesus urged the Pharisees to take a stand to be with him or not. If not they needed to know their outcome.
* "he who does not gather with me scatters" -Jesus is gathering people into his kingdom. Those in his kingdom do the same. The Pharisees where scattering people so that they would not gather in Jesus kingdom as easily.
* "And so I tell you" -Jesus is telling us, by using this phrase, that the statement he is about to make is important.
* "every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but" -Some may say that my sins or his or her sin is to great to forgive. But Jesus says that every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven but one. The apostle Paul was a blasphemer and forgiven. 1 Tim. 1:13 says, "Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief."
* "blaspheme" -In these two sentences the word is the same in Greek. In Greek it is "blasphemia". It is from from the Greek word "blasphemos" meaning "vilification (especially against God)." It is translated as either "blasphemy, evil speaking, railing."
Holman's Bible Dictionary says, "In the biblical context, blasphemy is an attitude of disrespect that finds expression in an act directed against the character of God."
* "the blaspheme against the Holy Spirit" -The Holy Spirit works in the heart of a person. The Holy Spirit brings people into the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit brings hearts to Jesus for healing and forgiving. According to Holman's Bible dictionary, "This is a state of hardness in which one consciously and wilfully resists God’'s saving power and grace. It is a desperate condition that is beyond the situation of forgiveness because one is not able to recognize and repent of sin. Thus one wanting to repent of blasphemy against the Spirit cannot have committed the sin."
Everyone goes through life rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit, putting off his work to change and thus save our souls. But for some they stop rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit and accept his cleansing work through the Holy Spirit. Thus they have stopped blaspheming the Holy Spirit and will not be condemned. After being saved there are times that we resist God's will for our lives, but this is not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not a one time event. It is determined and continual unbelief. Even after seeing all the evidence and arguments showing the truth of the gospel, even until death and a person does not believe, he or she is guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is more than intellectual rejection, although that may be a part of it. It is rejecting the convicting power of the Holy Spirit upon one's heart.
* "either in this age or in the age to come" -What does "this age" refer to? Jesus was the link between the age of the prophets, kings, temple worship, and Israel as God's chosen nation and the age of the apostles, evangelist and the church of Christ. The age after this is the Millennium. It could be these, but since Jesus was addressing the Pharisees he was probably referring to the age that they were in; the age of the prophets and law. If this is true then "the age to come" refers to the age of the church of Christ.
* "the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven" -The power of the Holy Spirit was driving out demons. The power of the Holy Spirit was knocking on the hearts of the Pharisees. But the Pharisees were rejecting this work of God. They were in danger of not being forgiven.
>9. What do Jesus' words and the Pharisees' words reveal about each respectively? (33-35) How important are the words we speak? Why?
Matthew 12:33-34 "'Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.'"
* Jesus said it like it is. He wanted them to repent, but all they were doing was trying to stop the work of God. They were vipers, killing with their verminous words.
Matthew 12:35-37 "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
* Jesus words brought healing and life. His words built up people. But the Pharisees words, even among themselves were destroying people. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
* If our hearts are good we will say good things. If our hearts are full of evil we will say evil things. But I note that what some consider good things other might not. For example Jesus called the Pharisees "a broad of vipers" and this was good. It was good for them so that they would repent. And good for others around them so that they would not be influenced by them.
* James 3:5-6 says, "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."
* Jesus point is to make sure our hearts are good. We can try to stay good for awhile, but it won't last long if our hearts are still bad. But if our heart is good it will last long. Philip. 4:8-9 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
III. Judgement Upon the Unrepentant (38-42)
>10. How did the Pharisees respond to Jesus' warning instead of repenting? How did Jesus characterize them? (39) What was the sign of Jonah? What is the lesson we should learn from the people of Nineveh? From the Queen of the South?
Matthew 12:38 "Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, 'Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.'"
* "Then some of" -Not all. There was a lot.
* "Pharisees" -Men who lived according to the commands of God as they saw them as the commands of God.
* "teachers of the law" -The title is self describing.
* "Teacher" -They called him this because he taught, not because they respected him as a teacher.
* "we want to see a miraculous sign from you" -They had heard people say that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Man. They had heard that Jesus did miracles, which is what the Messiah was suppose to do as a sign to them. But they did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. It is also important to note than many Pharisees and teachers of the law had seen Jesus himself do miracles but only criticize him for the miracles.
Their pride blinded them to God and their true self. Pride leads to one minded thinking. They only heard and saw what they wanted to. Thus they wouldn't have believed in Jesus if he did another one anyway.
Matthew 12:39 "He answered, 'A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.'"
* "He answered" -Jesus was in control. Yet he did not point out one directly. He only generalized this statement.
* "A wicked and adulterous generation" -Not kind words from a humanistic point of new. Jesus was not passive. Nor was he "kind" at all times from the human prospective. Yet these where the words that they needed to hear. These were words of truth.
* "adulterous" -Means faithless and changing back and forth.
Matthew 12:40 "'For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.'"
* Jesus is referring to his death and burial.
* "heart of the earth" -Heart is "kardia" in Greek. It means "the heart, i.e. (figurative) the thoughts or feelings (mind); also (by analogy) the middle. Earth is "ge". It means, "soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrain globe (including the occupants in each application). It is translated either country, earth (-ly), ground, land, or world.
Holman's dictionary writes this on "erets" which is also a Greek word for earth. Holman's topic of what is beneath the earth or land— the underworld is as follows. "The prophet Ezekiel wrote literally of the land of lowest places (Ezekiel 26:20). People of Tyre were going there (Ezekiel 26:15; Ezekiel 26:20). The people of Egypt were going there (Ezekiel 31:2, 14, 16, 18, 32:18, 24). The RSV translates "’erets" in this case as the nether world.” The NIV uses “the earth below.” Sheol was another name for the place of the departed dead (Ezekiel 31:15-17 NAS)... In the Old Testament, the heavenly realm, the earthly realm, and the sub-earthly realm all described the place of God and angels, the place of people now alive, and the place of those who have died. The New Testament reveals more. Believers go to be with Christ (Philippians 1:21-24). In both the Old and New Testaments, earthly decisions and actions influenced future destiny.
Matthew 12:41 "'The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.'"
* The people of Nineveh heard the message and repented. Jonah wasn't very gracious, but they still accepted.
Matthew 12:42 "'The Queen of the South will rise at the judgement with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is hear.'"
* The Queen of the South had a learning mind. She was queen, yet she wasn't proud.
IV. The Final Condition of an Unrepentant Life (43-45)
>11. In the parable what does the evil spirit do to a man? How does this parable illustrate the root problem of the self-righteous and legalistic Pharisees? (43-45) What is the result of an unrepentant heart? (45b)
Matthew 12:43-45 "'When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of the man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.'"
* "When an evil spirit comes out of a man" -The "educated" in my day do not believe in evil spirits and therefore evil spirits dwelling in people. However, most of the "average" people believe in angles. Yet not all of them believe in evil spirits. This does not take away from the truth of them. Evil spirits can come in and out of a man. They come out only when God drives them out by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.
* "it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it" -Evil spirits can roam the earth.
* "Then it says...when it arrives" -Evil spirits can go back to those whom the Holy Spirit cleaned out. However, the evil spirits can only go into those who did not grow in Christ.
* "And the final condition of the man is worse than the first" -Seven demons (evil spirits) and more can dwell in a person. Such a person is clean, but they have not heart change.
* "That is how it will be with this wicked generation" -When Jesus came in the flesh to this earth, he did a lot of house cleaning of his people, Judah. Judah was the remnant of Israel that kept God's promises of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. However, the religious leaders and many of the people in Jerusalem did not accept Jesus as the Messiah. Some may have accepted him for a while, superficially. After all it was a crowd of people that shouted "Hosanna" when Jesus entered Jerusalem. Yet, only a few days later they all cried, "Crucify him." So they rejected him. Jesus warned them of the fate of such fickleness.
V. Jesus' True Family (46-50)
>12. Why did his mother and brothers come to visit Jesus? (46-47, Mark 3:20) What was Jesus' response? (48) Whom did Jesus say were his real mother and brothers? (49a)
Matthew 12:46-47 "While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.'"
* This event is also recorded in Luke 8:19-21 and Mark 3:20-21, 31-35. Matthew and Mark place this after Jesus taught about the demonic kingdom; perhaps grouping together two incidents where people believed that Jesus was not thinking and acting like a normal human being. Mark plainly states that his family tried to take charge of him because they thought that he was "out of his mind."
* "While Jesus was still talking" -Jesus was a busy person.
* "his mother and brothers" -Mark only states, "his family". Clearly all three accounts are referring to Jesus' half brothers. Joseph and Mary had children after Jesus was born, but not all believe this. Who are "Jesus' brothers" is a hotly debated subject. Protestant congregations, the Roman Catholics, and the Greek Orthodox Church each has different views of who "Jesus' brothers" refers to.
Jesus Nazareth critics listed them in Mark 6:3 as James, Joses, Juda, and Simon. Their names appear again in the parallel passage of Matthew 13:55, except Joseph is used as the alternate spelling of Joses (see NAS). His brothers may have been among the friends in Mark 3:21 who thought Jesus was beside himself; ten verses later 3:31 his brethren and his mother tried to get His attention while He was teaching in a house. Furthermore, John 7:5 reports that neither did his brethren believe in him.” After the resurrection, however, they changed their minds and joined the disciples in times of prayer (Acts 1:14). The risen Christ appeared to one of them, James, and he became the leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 1 Corinthians 15:7). Nevertheless, some writings in the early centuries raised questions about the brothers to protect their developing doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* Jesus' didn't sever his relationship with his family. But he did not compromise his service to God and people when they objected to his work.
* Mark states that they wanted to "take charge of him". That is they were determined to override his authority as a mature man and as a man of God. They believed that he was "out of his mind", not thinking right. Why? Everyone looks out for their own needs and Jesus wasn't doing that. They believed his priorities were not correct.
* Jesus' mother and brothers didn't understand what Jesus was doing and why he was doing it. They did not understand the nature of his mission.
* They loved Jesus, but their understanding was wrong. In doing so they were hindering God.
* They had concern without understanding what was really important. Concern and compassion based on wrong theology brings us to a wrong decision. Concern needs to be based on proper understanding.
* "wanting to see you" -This was an indirect command.
* "God's will" -John 6:39-40 "save sinners". 1 Thessalonians 5:15-17 says joy, prayer, and thanks is to be our attitude all the time. See John 7:16-24 and Philippians 2:6-11.
* Jesus was not condemning his family. Rather he was rebuking them while instructing everyone else including his disciples who had also left their families. Jesus was teaching the difference between humanistic teaching and God's kingdom.
* Jesus had devoted his first thirty years to his earthly family. Now he was fully engaged in mission for the kingdom of God. Jesus' ministry was in full cycle. At this time many people were coming to hear him. Jesus could not stop now to help his family.
* The Parable of the Sower shows that people who are concerned and worry about things of this world will not produce fruit. Jesus was tempted to go against his own teaching. Jesus' family's misplaced concerned was the type of temptation we all need to watch out for.
* Relatives who are not godly don't want us talking about godly things.
* Standing on God's side is best for those who question our sanity.
>How can we be part of Jesus' true family?
Matthew 12:48-49 "He replied to him, 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?'" Pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers.'"
* To be a part of Jesus' family one needs to:
1) Accept that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead.
2) Do God's will.
* Jesus' reply was shocking to a society that taught family is of first importance.
* Jesus has a spiritual family.
* The disciples did God's will and thus were a part of Jesus' spiritual family. Judas was with them, but not a member.