Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 12:1-21

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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)

My beloved one - Matthew 12:18

My beloved one, in whom my soul is well pleased. This is the same way Jesus is described in Matt. 3:17 and 17:5. At this important turning point in Jesus' ministry (see note on Matt. 13:1-53) Matthew once again (cf. Matt. 4:14-16) shows that Jesus' ministry is the fulfillment of a prophecy from Isaiah (Isa. 42:1-4). This prophecy promised that God would send his chosen Servant to bring God's blessing to all nations (Matt 12:18, 20).

Hope of the Gentiles – Matthew 12:21

In his name all the Gentiles will have a certain hope. Similar to the prophecy from Isa. 9:1-2 quoted in Matt. 4:14-16, this prophecy about Jesus bringing justice and life to the Gentiles (from Isa. 42:1-4) shows that Jesus' mission (Matt. 28:18-20) was to fulfill the promise God made to Abraham that through his offspring all the nations of the world would receive a blessing (Gen. 12:1-3).

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