“Matthew: The Gospel of the Grace of God”
“LORD of ALL”
Lord of the SABBATH
The INCIDENT: v.1.
It is hard for us to appreciate how SERIOUS the Jews were about the SABBATH. During the days of the Maccabees, they allowed themselves – men, women, & children – to be SLAUGHTERED by their enemies, because they were attacked on the Sabbath.
Throughout the ancient world, one could find SACRIFICES, TEMPLES, & CIRCUMCISION in other religions – but no one but the JEWS had the SABBATH.
We should appreciate the SERIOUSNESS of the 4th commandment for KEEPING the SABBATH.
Also, the Jews were well aware that their EXILE in BABYLON had lasted until all the missed Sabbaths were made up.
Jesus taught that the Sabbath was a day for HONORING GOD, which meant DOING GOOD – the Pharisees thought of it primarily as a day to keep the man-made REGULATIONS that they believed pleased God.
In one section alone of the Talmud, there are 24 chapters listing various LAWS of the Sabbath.
One cannot help being AMAZED & AMUSED – or maybe APPALLED – by seeing the EXTREMETIES that the Jews went to.
One could not carry a load heavier than a dried fig, but if an object weighed half that amount they could carry it twice.
Throwing an object into the air with one hand & catching it with another was prohibited.
Tailors would not carry a needle with them on the Sabbath, for fear that they might be tempted to mend a garment & thus perform work.
Nothing could be bought or sold; clothing could not be washed or dyed.
A letter could not be sent.
A fire could neither be lit or extinguished.
Baths were not allowed, for fear that some of the water would spill on the floor and thus “wash” it, which would be work.
Chairs could not be moved, because doing so might make a furrow in the ground.
A woman could not look in the mirror, lest she see a gray hair & be tempted to pull it out.
False teeth could not be worn, because they exceeded the weight limit for burdens.
There could be no sewing, plowing, reaping, grinding, baking, threshing, binding, winnowing, sifting, dying, shearing, spinning, or kneading on the Sabbath – NO WONDER the people were“heavy laden,” (11:28), & needed REST!
Another example from the Talmud: “If a person rolls wheat to remove the husks, it is sifting, if he rubs the heads of wheat, it is threshing. If he cleans off the side adherences, it is sifting. If he bruises the ears, it is grinding. And if he throws it up in his hand, it is winnowing.”
The INDICTMENT: v.2.
The INSTRUCTION: vs.3-8.
The case of DAVID: v.3 (“Have you not read” – don’t you teachers of the Bible know what it says?); V.4.
Mark 2:27 includes this statement from Jesus, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
The case of the PRIESTS working in the TEMPLE: vs.5-6. This last statement would have made the Jews gasp, because NOTHING – nothing other than God Himself – was GREATER than the TEMPLE.
Jesus, then, is GOD – therefore, He has the EXCLUSIVE right to MODIFY the Sabbath regulations.
The TEACHING of Hosea 6:6: vs.7-8. Grasp what Jesus is saying here: He is GREATER than God’s TEMPLE, & He is greater than God’s SABBATH.
The ILLUSTRATION: vs.9-13.
By ASKING this question, the Pharisees were admitting their belief that Jesus could HEAL this man!
If it is in order to help a SHEEP in trouble on the Sabbath, then how much MORE right is it to help another human being?
It is ALWAYS right to DO GOOD, EVEN & ESPECIALLY on the Sabbath!
The INSURRECTION: v.14.
The Pharisees’ ATTITUDE is well-expressed by this saying, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
Mark tells us that the Pharisees were SILENCED, but Matthew also tells us that they began plotting to KILL Jesus. Mark 3:6: “The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.”
Following this, Jesus:
WITHDREW: v.15. WHY did He withdraw? Because His time to DIE had not yet come.
Matthew, in his LONGEST OT quote, portrays Jesus as the long-awaited SUFFERING SERVANT; the one who does not FIGHT BACK when He is OPPOSED: vs.17-21.
This OT prophecy made 4 important PREDICTIONS regarding the MESSIAH:
He would bring JUSTICE to the earth.
He would do His work QUIETLY & in HUMILITY.
He would not ABUSE those who are WEAK.
He would bring SALVATION to the GENTILES.
Jesus FULFILLED ALL these prophecies, but He did not fulfill the EXPECTATIONS of the Jews of that day.
Lord Over SATAN
The ACTIVITY: v.22.
The AMAZEMENT: v.23. Though these crowds had probably seen Jesus perform MANY miracles, they were especially AMAZED by this one.
The ACCUSATION: v.24.
Perhaps realizing that this amazing miracle might CONVINCE the crowds that Jesus was TRULY their Messiah, the Pharisees PANICKED & made a truly FOOLISH & DANGEROUS accusation.
Apparently, they did not agree with their fellow Pharisee NICODEMUS, who said to Jesus,“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2b)
The ANSWER: vs.25-30. 3 things:
Their ACCUSATION was ABSURD: vs.25-26.
Their accusation was HYPOCRITICAL: v.27.
Their accusation was a deliberate REJECTION of God’s Messiah: vs.28-30.
The ANATHEMA: vs.31-32.
It is truly DANGEROUS to REFUSE to BELIEVE!
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has been defined as “attributing to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God.” (Walvoord)
If someone rejects the SPIRIT of God in Jesus, then there is NO ONE ELSE who can provide salvation.
If a professing believer FEARS he has committed the “unpardonable sin,” he demonstrates by his very CONCERN that he has NOT committed it.
The PARABLE & its PERSONIFICATION: vs.33-37.
A TREE is to its FRUIT what a person’s HEART is to his SPEECH. A person is either GOOD or EVIL, & those who are evil will not ESCAPE judgment. (Matthew used the word “evil” twice as much as the other gospel writers.) Matt. 15:18-19.
James 3:9-10 (NIV): “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”
The only REMEDY for this condition is a RADICAL CHANGE of heart.
V.37 – how can I accurately JUDGE my true SPIRITUAL condition? By LISTENING to what I SAY.
Ps. 141:3: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
Lord Over DEATH
The DEMAND for a SIGN: v.38; 16:1.
The Pharisees had witnessed NUMEROUS signs already! It seems that they were calling for a truly EXTRAORDINARY one; perhaps one of WORLDWIDE magnitude, such as making the sun stand still, for example.
1 Cor. 1:22 simply states, “For Jews demand signs.” But the Jewish leaders were confident that Jesus COULD NOT do such a miraculous thing, so they could finally EXPOSE Him as a FALSE Messiah.
Jesus’ REPLY: vs.39-40.
Jesus was not a CIRCUS performer! He would never seek to IMPRESS or PLEASE those who refused to have a right RELATIONSHIP with Him.
Yet Jesus said that there would be a sign: His DEATH & RESURRECTION.
This is Jesus’ FIRST PREDICTION of His death in Matthew.
(Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were 3 days; it doesn’t matter whether the Friday or Sunday were complete 24-hour days.)
The CONTRAST & CONDEMNATION: vs.41-42.
Describing Jonah, John MacArthur said that “He performed no miracles and gave no promise of deliverance, but on the basis of that brief, direct, and confrontative message of doom from a loveless prophet, the people of Nineveh threw themselves on God’s mercy and were saved.”
The lesson here? The greater the OPPORTUNITY, the greater the JUDGMENT.
The DANGER of the “CLEAN HOUSE:” vs.43-45.
Warren Wiersbe: “It is not enough to clean house; we must also invite in the right tenant.”
A MORAL REFORMATION, apart from a SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION, is DEADLY in its DECEPTION.
It is likely that many of the people whom Jesus HEALED later died & went to HELL, because they were not SAVED.
Like the Pharisees, people who are:
RIGHTEOUS are BLIND to their SIN & their need for SALVATION. Like a LEPER that rubs off his fingers & toes because he feels no pain, the Pharisees among us are so DENSENSITIZED by their SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS that they are BLIND to their TRUE spiritual condition.
That is why it is much EASIER to share the gospel with someone who is FULLY AWARE of their sin, vs. someone who has a FALSE sense of security in their own righteousness.
The “FAMILY of God:” vs.46-50.
Jesus’ family was trying to SAVE Him, not merely from HUMILIATION, but from DEATH.
Jesus was not RENOUNCING His FAMILY! Remember, His last REQUEST from the CROSS was for John to TAKE CARE of His MOTHER.
His POINT was that anyone who BELIEVES in Him has is part of His DIVINE family, & they have a RELATIONSHIP with Him that is INTIMATE & SECURE.
V.50 – “whoever” – the INVITATION is open to ANYONE who will REPENT & BELIEVE.
The CRITICAL issue before us is not whether THESE people believed, but rather, do YOU believe? If you BELIEVE, you BELONG; you belong to His family.
JESUS is LORD!
He is Lord of the SABBATH.
He is Lord over SATAN.
He is Lord over DEATH.
Is He Lord of YOUR LIFE? “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9)