Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 12:1-18

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The Turning Point in Opposition to Jesus - Matthew 12:1-14

Opposition to Jesus has been building in the story. With these two accounts of conflict with the Pharisees regarding the Sabbath, this conflict reached the point where Jesus' enemies decided they must kill him to stop his ministry (Matt. 12:14). After this decision all of their interactions with Jesus were attempts to trap and discredit him.

Sabbath – Matthew 12:1

The Sabbath was the seventh day of each week (Saturday) according to the Jewish calendar, based on God's creation of the world (Gen. 2:1-3). In the Mosaic covenant God required his people to not work on the Sabbath because God himself rested (Exod. 20:8-11). Over time the Jewish people developed an elaborate set of rules to make sure that they did not accidentally do any kind of work on the Sabbath.

Jerusalem, Bethpage, Mount of Olives – Matthew 21:1

JerusalemBethpageMount of Olives. Each of these locations are very important for Jesus' story. Jerusalem is the City of David, the royal and religious capitol of the Jewish people. Bethpage means "house of unripe figs" and stands as a symbol for God's judgment on the Jewish leadership for their failure to produce righteous fruit (see Matt. 3:8-10; 21:18-20). The Mount of Olives is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, including connections with King David (2 Sam. 15:30) as well as the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 14:4). It is also an important place in the last week of Jesus' life — the place where he taught the "Olivet Discourse" (Matt 24–25), where he wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44), and where the Garden of Gethsemane was located at the base (Matt. 26:30, 36). The Book of Acts records that Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12).

The bread of presence – Matthew 12:4

ate the bread of the presence. Jesus reminded his enemies of the story when David and his companions were in need and were given the holy bread to eat (1 Sam. 21:1-9) to illustrate the principle of Hosea 6:6 (quoted in Matt 12:7; cf. 9:13) that the compassionate meeting of needs is greater in God's eyes than a strict adherence to laws when people are in need.

Profaning the Sabbath – Matthew 12:5

The priests in the temple profane the Sabbath. Jesus provided another example of the wisdom that is needed to apply God's commands in a complex world. Priests must do work on the Sabbath to perform the greater good of performing the sacrifices and other duties of the temple.

Lord of the Sabbath – Matthew 12:8

The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. In addition to showing the wisdom needed to apply God's commands (see notes on Matt. 12:4 and 12:5), Jesus also claimed that as the Son of Man on Earth he has the authority to declare what is right (cf. Matt. 9:6). He is greater than the temple (Matt. 12:6; cf. also 12:42).

Doing good on the Sabbath – Matthew 12:12

It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Through the healing of a man on the Sabbath Jesus taught the same principle that compassion is greater than strict adherence to laws.

I will put my Spirit upon him – Matthew 12:18

I will put my Spirit upon him. The Triune God is referenced here with the Father speaking about the Son being filled with the Spirit. At Jesus' baptism (Matt. 3:16) the Spirit descended on Jesus and then led him into the wilderness (Matt. 4:1). Though Matthew does not highlight this theme, after Jesus' ascension the Spirit indwells, guides, and empowers Jesus' disciples (John 14:16-17; Acts 13:2; Rom. 8:9-13; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; Eph. 5:18)

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