Matthew Chapter 12

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath: 
(Read Matthew 12:1-14)
When we become followers of Jesus, we find rest for our souls.   Matthew gives us two examples of how Jesus brings blessings to people and relief from the heavy burdens of the law. Jesus went through the grain fields and his disciples plucked some head of the grain and ate.  Some Pharisees blamed disciples for breaking the Sabbath. Pharisees had added many religious burdens to the law which were not given in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 11: 28-30).  They also blamed Jesus for healing a man on Sabbath. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for the way they observed Sabbath day holy (Exodus 20:8-11). Jesus wanted them to see that the purpose of the Sabbath law was to show mercy to human beings and rest to animals from hard labor (Matthew 12:8).  The Sabbath was given to rest from hard labor. The Pharisees missed the point of the Sabbath law (Matthew 12:7). Sabbath was made for man and not the other way. Jesus cautioned that man-made doctrines should not violate God’s mercy and kindness. If any ordinance become hindrance to obey Christ, we need to reject them.  Showing mercy is more importance than observing religious rituals. In the Old Testament, Priest ate loaves on the table of show bread on Sabbath day (Leviticus 24:5-9; Numbers 28:9).  Pharisees rescued their sheep fell in the pit on Sabbath day. Jesus asked them “How much more valuable is a person than a sheep?”  This passage shows that Jesus had the right to interpret the Mosaic law.  Jesus desired mercy and not sacrifices (Matthew 12:7).  But Pharisees planned to kill Jesus.  Jesus is the creator and Lord of the Sabbath, so he has the right to interpret the law. Though David and the people with him ate the bread reserved for priest, he was not condemned (1 Samuel 21:1-6).  The believers are set free from observing Sabbath because they have entered eternal rest in Christ (Colossians 2:15-16).  Sabbath is a picture of the eternal rest Christ brought to believers. It is noteworthy that in the New Testament all the ten Commandments are quoted except the observance of Sabbath day.  Christ gives rest to all those who believe him.  Prayers or giving to the poor are valuable to God only if they come from a sincere heart. God accepts worship offered in truth and spirit. Pray that God would protect us from man-made religious rituals.
Behold My Servant:  
(Read Matthew 12:15-32)
Jesus healed the sick by the power of God.  It was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 42:1-4).  He came to make known the righteousness of God to Gentiles.  Salvation of gentile nations were clearly predicated in the Old Testament (Genesis 12:3).  Christ did not come to crush the bruised reed and quench the smoking wick. Jesus is gentle to the weak and never rejects those who are wounded in their conscience. He never rejects a broken and contrite heart. Jesus healed a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute. The people were amazed at the miracles Jesus did and said, “Could this be the Son of David”.  But the Pharisees said Jesus healed the man by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demon.  Jesus replied, “If Satan is casting out Satan, he is fighting against himself, and his own kingdom will not survive”.  Jesus said, “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven but the sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31).  The willful rejection of the gospel is the unpardonable sin. The deliberate rejection of the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit grieves the heart of God. Their sin is their settled conviction that Jesus is evil.  The unpardonable sin a conclusive rejection of Christ.  Those who once rejected Christ may have opportunity to trust Christ and follow him later.  Our God is a merciful and long suffering Savior. 
The Sign of Jonah: 
(Read Matthew 12:33-50)
The Pharisees accused Jesus of using demonic power to cast our demons (Matthew 12:24). This is the ultimate sin against God.  Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). A tree is known by its fruit.  If our heart is filled with love, it will be express in action.  We should guard our tongues. Someone has said “Before we speak; think: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”.  The religious leaders demanded that Jesus should perform miraculous sign to prove his identity (Matthew 12:38). Jesus said that the only sign he gives them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.  Jesus’ divine identity is revealed by the miracle of his resurrection from the dead on the third day (Matthew 12:40).  Jonah himself was a sign to Nineveh because he was in whale’s belly for three days before he went to Nineveh to preach. They repented when they heard about the coming judgment (Jonah 3:1-10). Pharisees saw many signs, yet they did not repent. Jesus said, “Nineveh will rise up against them on the judgment day”.  Jesus claims that he is greater than Jonah.  Yet Pharisees did not repent of their sins (Matthew 12:41).  Our religious heritage or familiarity with the Bible will not save us. The queen of Sheba came to hear Solomon.  Jesus claims that he is greater than Solomon.  But Pharisees refused to obey Jesus. The queen of Sheba will rise up against them on the Day of Judgment.  Repentance alone will not save. It should be followed by faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Otherwise, our moral state may become worse than before (Matthew 12:43-45). Jesus calls our attention away from earthly relationship to spiritual relationships (Matthew 12:49).  Jesus’ mother and brothers have no special preference before God (John 7:1-5; Mark 3:21).  Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of God are my brothers and sisters.”  A believer is closer to Christ than his own physical relatives (John 6:28-29).  Physical relationship is temporary but spiritual relationship is eternal. People cannot be saved unless they believe the gospel. Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Matthew Chapter 11

John the Baptist and Jesus:  
(Read Matthew 11:1-19)
When Jesus had finished giving instructions to the apostles he departed to teach throughout their cities. John the Baptist who was in prison heard about the things Christ was doing.  He was imprisoned by king Herod, and he began to doubt whether Jesus was actually “The Christ” or not. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus whether Jesus was truly the Messiah they have been waiting for or should they look for someone else. Jesus told them to go back to John and tell him what they have heard and seen (Isaiah 35:5; 61:1-3).  “The blind sees, the lame walks, the lepers are healed, the deaf hears, the dead are raised to life and the good news is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5). Jesus said that “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me”.  Jesus did not come to establish God’s kingdom in the way Jews expected.  Like John the Baptist, we often like to see Jesus doing things in our ways.  Natural men are attracted to spectacular performance.  We doubt and question Christ when things would not go our way.  John was foreordained to be the forerunner of Jesus. Jesus said, “among those who born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist”.  Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John (Matthew 11:11).   John was the last prophet in the Old Testament who saw the Christ and had the privilege to become his forerunner.  The prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6 was fulfilled in John.  He was the link between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The messengers of the gospel always face opposition. But it is a privilege to know Christ and serve him.  The verses 16-19 explain the attitude of people towards John the Baptist and Jesus. They rejected John the Baptist saying he has a demon.  They also rejected Jesus saying that he is a friend of tax collectors and sinners. However, those who know that they need mercy and forgiveness welcome Jesus by faith as their Savior.
Jesus Gives True Rest:
(Read Matthew 11:20-30)
Jesus denounces the Galilean cities where he has done most of his miracles.  They did not repent and believed in him (Matthew 11:20-21). They are without excuse for not believing the gospel. Jesus said it will be more tolerable for Tyre, Sidon and Sodom on the day of judgment.  There is always a danger that familiarity could breed contempt. From everyone who has given much, much will be required. The greater our exposure to God and his Word, the greater our obligation. The fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction is one of the proofs of the inspiration of the Bible. The Scribes and Pharisee are the scholars of the Law of Moses. But they willfully rejected Christ.  Intellectual failure can be corrected but willful rejection does not give the gospel a chance. God had given insight to people whom the society considered unimportant. Those who are humble in their hearts and child-like in faith will be saved (Matthew 11:27; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:8).  People were weary of heavy burden religious leaders laid on them (Matthew 23:4).  They were tried of religious activities to earn God’s favor.  Jesus invited them to come to him and find rest for their soul (Matthew 11:28).  Here Jesus gives three commands and four promises. The three commands are “come, take my yoke and learn from me”. The four promises are “I will give you rest; you will find that I am meek, my yoke is easy, and my burden will be light” (Matthew 11:28-30).  Only Jesus can give spiritual rest for our soul.  Human souls are restless until they find rest in God. Those who come to Jesus should accept him as their Lord and Savior. The yoke refers to the teaching of Christ.  Jesus wants to exchange the heavy burden of law with his lighter load of grace.  Thirdly we have to learn from Jesus. We should allow Jesus to control our lives to experience the rest. His yoke is easy and fits us perfectly.  We should submit to Jesus and learn from him. Then we will find that he is “gentle and lowly”.  This is a universal invitation.  Jesus wants to help all those who humble to admit their need for his mercy and grace.  Have you received the rest Jesus offer by faith?

Matthew Chapter 10

Jesus Sends out Twelve apostles
(Read Matthew 10:1-24)
Jesus invited his disciples to take part in the kingdom work (Matthew 9:37-38). Jesus sent the apostles to preach the gospel. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”.  Jesus called twelve apostles out of his disciples. Their names are given in verses 2-4.  Apostle is a technical term means “Send ones”.  Judas Iscariot was the only apostle who was not from Galilee. They were probably young and from varied walks of life.  They were given authority to do miracles.  They must serve others freely as they have been served freely (Matthew 10:9-10).  The apostles were to trust the Lord for all their needs.  They were to rely upon the gifts and hospitality of those whom they were sent to minister.  The character of disciples and the methods of their ministry should reflect Christ’s mercy and forgiveness. Jesus warns that the disciples will face opposition no matter how good their message and how honest their ministry are.  They should not receive hospitality from those who reject their message. The shaking off the dust of their feet was a symbolic act of condemnation. The disciples are sent out as sheep among wolves. They must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. They knew that the safest place on earth is in the center of God’s will. They will face rejection and opposition from family for the sake of Christ. When they face persecution, they should flee to the next town.  Verse 23 may be a reference to the great commission the apostles received.  A disciple is not greater than his teacher, or a servant greater than his master.  If they have called the master of the house, Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household? The word Beelzebub refers to the prince of demons and was a contemptuous name for Satan.  The missionary work which Christ entrusted to the disciples is the work of the whole church in every generation. The world that gave Jesus the crown of thorns will not give his disciples the crown of gold.
The Promise of Blessing in Confessing Christ
(Read Matt 10:26-42)
Like Jesus, the disciples will encounter rejection and opposition.  Christian’s life is not free from pain and suffering (John 16:33).  The disciples will face persecution even from their own families (Matthew 10:21-22; 35-37). Those who love darkness will hate the light (John 3:19-20).   Jesus wants his disciples not to be afraid of those who threaten them.  The time is coming when everything will be revealed. Jesus promises honor to all who confess him before men (Matthew 10:32). To confess means to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Christians those who do not confess Christ are denying him. Why should Christians confess Christ?  The plan of salvation includes it (Romans 10:9-10).  The Lord said that we should be his witnesses (Acts 1:8).  The public sacrifice of Christ must compel us (Hebrews 2:11).  The Day of Judgment requires it (Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:11-15).  There is no secret Christian discipleship (John 9:25).  We should confess Christ by our words and life (Matthew 5:16).   The early believers confessed Jesus by baptism and association with fellow believers in worship and witnessing (Acts 4:23; Hebrews 10:25).  If anyone confesses Jesus openly, Christ will confess them before the Father in heaven.  But if anyone denies him on earth, he will be denied before the Father (Matthew 10:33).  The open confession of Christ can lead to conflict in the family (Luke 12:51).  True discipleship is denying self and taking up own cross and following Jesus in obedience (Matthew 10:38).  The cross is symbolic of death. Following Christ may cost us our comforts, family, preferences, and our friends. Following Jesus requires us to deny our self.   A life emptied and poured out in servicing Christ will find fulfillment (Matthew 10:39).  those who are willing to live their life for the sake of Jesus will not regret their decision in the end. Christ has destroyed the power of Satan. May this truth guard your heart and empower you to live for Christ.

Matthew Chapter 9

Jesus Forgives Sin:
(Read Matthew 9:1-13)
Jesus came to bring forgiveness and victory over sin.  He attended to man’s spiritual needs before He dealt with his physical problems. A paralytic man was brought to Jesus by four men carrying in a bed (Mark 2:3).  Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic” Your sins are forgiven”. Some of the scribes accused Jesus of blasphemy because only God could forgive sin.  Jesus saw his spiritual need greater than his physical need.  Jews consider sin and poverty are the result of sin.  Jesus said, “Sickness is not necessarily because of sin but for the power of God to be seen in him” (John 9:3).  Jesus came to provides forgiveness of sin and its destructive influences (Revelation 21:4).  Jesus graciously forgave his sins and restored him to health.  He has shown that it is easier to heal a sick man than to forgive his sin. The healed paralytic experienced the foretaste of the future blessing of the kingdom of God. In the calling of the tax collector Matthew, we see the gracious nature of Jesus Christ and the gospel (Matthew 9:9).  Jesus invited Matthew to follow him. He got up and followed Jesus. Tax collection was a dirty job in Jesus’ time and involved in squeezing money from poor people for Rome (Luke 18:11). Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples for a dinner where his fellow tax collectors and many sinners were there.  Born again believers must witness Christ to their unsaved friends. The Pharisees accused Jesus of eating with sinners.  Jesus replied, “Those who are healthy have no need of a physician, but those who are sick, for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:12).   God is merciful to sinner who turns away from sin and embraces the salvation that is freely offered. Have you received the forgiveness of sin God graciously offer through the death and resurrection of Christ?
The compassionate Healer:
(Read Matt 9:14-26)
Jesus healed many sick people and performed many miracles.  The religious leaders opposed the work of Jesus and questioned him about fasting. The disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus “When we and the Pharisees fast, why your disciples do not fast?”  Jesus replied, “Should the wedding guest mourn while celebrating with the groom?”  Jesus Christ has come to bring the dispensation of grace. The new wine should be stored in the new bottle to be preserved otherwise the skins burst (Matthew 9:17). Also, Matthew gives the account of the raising of the ruler’s daughter and the healing of the woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years.  We cannot heal the problem of our own sin, but God has provided the solution in Jesus Christ. Jesus raised the ruler’s daughter.  He said to mourners “The girl is not dead but sleeping.” The crowd laughed at him (Matthew 9:24).  Jesus gave life to dead, healed the sick and drove out demonic power.  The dead in Christ are sleeping now and waiting for their resurrection.  The ruler recognized that Jesus is God and worshiped him.  Only Jesus gives life to the dead.  The healing of the woman who had a hemorrhage is an outstanding illustration of faith in action.  She believed that “If I touch the garment of Jesus, I will be healed”. Faith is not a wishful thinking or something opposite of facts. Christian faith is based on the historical fact of Christ’s resurrection. Faith brings observable transformation in those who believe in Jesus. What matters is not the amount of faith we have but in whom we trust. Ask Christ to give the strength to battle against sin and temptations.  Christ is the answer to all our problems.
The compassionate Savior:
(Read Matthew 9:27-38)
Despite the miracles Jesus did, the religious leaders opposed him. Two blind men followed Jesus crying out “Son of David, have mercy on us” (Matthew 9:27).  Jesus asked them “Do you believe that I am able to give you sight?”  When they said, “Yes Lord”, he touched their eyes, and they received sight.  Jesus told them that they should not tell anyone about this. But they spread his fame all over the region.  Jesus also healed a mute who could not speak because he was possessed by a demon. Jesus cast out the demon and immediately he spoke. The crowd marveled saying, “Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel”.  But the Pharisees said, “Jesus casts out demons by the prince of demons” (Matthew 9:34).  Pharisees remind us that a person can live a religious life, yet he can resist the grace of God and remain unsaved. Only Jesus can set us free from the sin and its destructive influences. Jesus traveled through cities, teaching in the synagogues and preaching the good news. When he saw the multitude, he was moved with compassion. They were spiritually weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd to guide them. Jesus did not want to see them spiritually unprotected and lost.  He said to his disciples “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest (Matthew 9:38).   This is the missionary message of the New Testament (Luke 10:2; John 4:35-38).   Showing compassion to others is not done in our own strength but can be done only when we get saved and experience God’s mercy in our own lives.  Share the gospel with compassion to others?