Ladies’ Bible Study 10.14.19

We had a delicious light meal and dessert, and then got right into our Bible study. This was a particularly long chapter, so we ran out of time after verse 37. So here are notes from Matthew 12-A.
Matthew 12:1-8
When the disciples were hungry and picked some grain heads to eat from the field in which they were walking (this practice was allowed by the law), the Pharisees accused them of breaking the Sabbath. The religious leaders had spent years deciding what was “work” and what was not, and imposed so many restrictions on the people that the Sabbath was not really restful, but stressful. Jesus took this opportunity to upset that applecart.
As the most skillful Lawyer, He used the law to prove them wrong. Using David’s need for bread (I Sam 21:1-6), He declared human need takes priority over Sabbath rest. He then reminded them that the priests work on the Sabbath but are guiltless. He pointed out that they did not really know or understand the law, quoting Hosea 6:6. God desires to give us mercy, and He created the Sabbath for us! (Mark 2:27)
Matthew 12:9-14
Despite Jesus’ authoritative explanation of the Sabbath, the religious leaders still did not get it. As they entered the synagogue and saw a man with a crippled hand, they tried to set Him up. Of course, Jesus was well aware of their intentions. Again, He used the law to completely break down their attempt. Jesus used the allowance God gave to helping one’s animals in need on the Sabbath to reveal just how hard-hearted and twisted these religious leaders had become. Mark records that Jesus was angry and grieved because of their hard hearts. (Mark 3:4-5) Jesus accused them of caring more for their own animals than they did for people.
He then told the crippled man to stretch out his hand. The man, in faith, obeyed Jesus and tried. As he stretched it out, his hand was restored just like the other hand.
Although these religious leaders had twice gotten a lesson from Jesus about the true interpretation of the Sabbath law and about God’s heart of love and mercy, they rejected His message and began plotting to destroy Him.
Matthew 12:15-21
Jesus quietly left his enemies, but He was followed by “great multitudes.” Verse 15 tells us that He healed them all, but asked them to keep it quiet. Then Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1-4, where Isaiah prophesies about the kind of ministry the Messiah will have, to demonstrate how Jesus fulfilled it. He avoided sensationalism (Crabtree, The Randall House Bible Commentary: Matthew, p. 201-202) and simply did His work, withdrawing from attention. The “bruised reed” and “smoking flax” (better “smoldering wick”) represent the weak, needy, and hopeless. He helped them rather than breaking or extinguishing them. Matthew made a point to bring up the fact that Jesus was there for all nations repeatedly in his gospel account. Here, he used Isaiah’s prophecy to highlight it.
Matthew 12:22-37
Jesus exorcised a demon from a man that was blind and mute, healing him in the process. The Pharisees, still completely opposed to Him, attempted to explain that this miracle was powered by Satan himself. Jesus once again masterfully uncovered not only their wickedness but also weak and illogical reasoning. He said Satan is much smarter than they gave him credit for—he would not work against himself. Then Jesus reminded them that some of their disciples were exorcising demons, as well, through God’s power. Only God is stronger than Satan. Therefore, their own disciples would be evidence against their foolish claims. In His analogy, Satan was the “strong man” that Jesus first had to bind so that He could “raid his house.”
Attributing the work of God to anyone else is blasphemous and dangerous. When God speaks to your heart, listen! Jesus ends by warning us about our words—they are revelatory of our heart’s content. He also made it clear that our words will be judged one day. Words are powerful. Let’s ask the Lord to fill us with His Holy Spirit like the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

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