Lesson 27: The Pharisees Reject Jesus (Matthew 12:1-14, 22-37)Related Media
I. Intro and Recap:
a. In our section this morning, we will examine the Pharisees coming at Jesus with three different accusations…
i. #1- The Pharisees are upset about a Sabbath violation (12:1–8).
ii. #2- The Pharisees are upset about a Sabbath healing (12:9-14).
iii. #3- The Pharisees think that Jesus is Satanic (12:22-29).
b. But I want to spend the majority of time on the major point, which is their hypocrisy and rejection of Jesus the King.
c. The big idea of chapter 12 is that the hypocritical Pharisees reject Jesus as King.
i. And they come after Jesus with three accusations…
II. The Pharisees are upset about a Sabbath violation (12:1–8).
a. Jesus and His disciples get accused of doing that is unlawful on the Sabbath (12:1-2)
i. Now the Law made it clear that work should not be done on the Sabbath.
ii. The Sabbath was a big deal for Jews. If you remember, the whole reason Israel went in to captivity in Babylon was because they rejected the Sabbath.
1. In fact, God said they would be in captivity for every Sabbath year they neglected.
2. So after the Captivity, as you can imagine, the Jews were very strict about keeping the Sabbath. You can see why.
iii. It was one of the 10 commandments:
1. Ex. 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…”
iv. So, the Pharisees accused Jesus and His disciples of doing work on the Sabbath.
1. According to the Pharisees, plucking wheat from its stem is reaping, rubbing the wheat in the palm of your hand is threshing, and blowing away the chaff is winnowing!
2. That farming on the Sabbath.
b. Jesus answers the Pharisees accusation with three examples.
i. #1- The example of David (12:3-4).
1. When David was hiding from Saul he asked for bread, and the only bread available was the bread that was used in the Tabernacle.
2. This bread was normally reserved for the priests alone (Lev. 24:9).
3. But David and the priest believed that preserving his life was more important than observing a technicality.
4. Jesus agrees. Mercy is more desirable than sacrifice.
ii. #2- The example of the priests (12:5).
1. The priests in the temple were employed with work on the Sabbath.
2. They had to work on the Sabbath.
3. And yet they were considered blameless.
4. So they worked on the Sabbath. Some work had to be done on the Sabbath.
iii. #3- (The third example is Jesus, Himself) Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (12:6-8).
1. “I tell you something greater than the temple is here…”
a. This would have been about as shocking as saying, “Before Abaraham was, I Am.”
b. Or, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me…”
c. Or, “I am the Bread of Life.”
d. This is quite a statement. Something greater than the temple is here.
2. “For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
a. In other words, “I am greater than David, I am the Lord, and I can control what can and cannot be done on it.”
b. Yikes! The Pharisees should have repented right then and there with sackcloth and ashes, but they didn’t!
c. Hey guys, I make the rules here, and not only am I Lord of the Sabbath, I AM the Sabbath.
d. As Hebrews tells us Jesus actually IS our Sabbath rest.
e. Whether or not we should observe the Sabbath remains a conscience issue, as Paul says in Romans Rom 14:5–6.
i. “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
c. The purpose of the Sabbath (12:1–7): The Sabbath was made for man, and not the reverse!
i. Matthew doesn’t quote Jesus as saying that, but Mark does. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
ii. Further more, the purpose of ANY day should be mercy towards people. Let’s get our priorities straight.
iii. We will see this more clearly in the next story…
iv. Jesus quotes the book of Hosea.
1. God wants them to be merciful; he doesn’t care that much about their sacrifices. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So mercy is wrapped up in the heart of the Sabbath law. It’s part and parcel of the whole purpose of the Sabbath.
v. In other words, the Pharisees missed the point with their technicalities about reaping, threshing, and winnowing.
vi. They missed the point that God has designed mercy for His people, not burdens. He has compassion for people’s basic needs unlike the Pharisees.
III. The Pharisees are upset about a Sabbath healing (12:9-14).
a. Jesus notices a man with a deformed hand.
i. Jesus is now about to enter the synagogue and he sees a man with a deformed hand.
1. One has to wonder if the Pharisees didn’t plant the man there to see what Jesus would do.
2. And the Pharisees ask Jesus whether it’s legal heal on the Sabbath.
3. They are trying to trick Him.
4. Notice, there is no question that Jesus can heal. It’s almost comical. They have no doubts that He is doing supernatural things. They have personally see this now a number of times and have heard the reports. They have moved beyond the authenticity of his healings.
5. Now they tests Jesus theologically.
6. Sure, He says He loves the Law, but the Law says not to do any work on the Sabbath…
7. What will He do…? They want to accuse Him!
ii. The answer (12:11–12):
1. Jesus replies by asking them if they would rescue a sheep on the Sabbath.
2. He says, “Of course you would! If you had a sheep hanging from it’s tongue from a barbed wire, you would do everything you could to help the lamb!
3. This is common sense.
4. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep!!!
a. It’s the classic argument from lesser to greater.
5. Are you asking me if it’s lawful to show mercy and do good on the Sabbath?!?!
6. Then yea, it’s appropriate to do good and show mercy on the Sabbath.
iii. Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand…”
1. And the man is healed…
2. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
3. Jesus wants what’s best for His sheep.
4. Jesus does good on the Sabbath, and on every other day…
iv. The Pharisees conspire how to kill him…
1. This has to be the sharpest contrast in the NT between Jesus and the Pharisees, except for the cross of Calvary.
2. Jesus heals a man, and they want to kill Him.
3. This is the world’s response to Jesus. They reject Him!
4. This is the human hearts response to Jesus, rejection!
5. This is a parable of a heart that the Holy Spirit has not made alive.
6. Unless the Holy Spirit does a work in our hearts, we will reject the King.
7. R.C. Sproul, in his book, “The Holiness of God” has a chapter titled, “God in the hands of angry sinners” and he says,
a. “By nature, our attitude toward God is not one of mere indifference. It is a posture of malice. We oppose His government and refuse His rule over us. Our natural hearts are devoid of affection for Him; they are cold, frozen to His holiness. By nature, the love of God is not in us.… it is not enough to say that natural man views God as an enemy. We must be more precise. God is our mortal enemy. He represents the highest possible threat to our sinful desires. His repugnance to us is absolute, knowing no lesser degrees. No amount of persuasion by men or argumentation from philosophers or theologians can induce us to love God. We despise His very existence and would do anything in our power to rid the universe of His holy presence. If God were to expose His life to our hands, He would not be safe for a second. We would not ignore Him; we would destroy Him.”
v. The Pharisees are just like King Herod:
1. He is terrified and wants to kill Jesus.
2. The right king would have rejoiced to see the King of Kings, but King Herod wants to kill him. He sees Jesus as his mortal enemy.
3. Herod is more interested in saving his throne than saving his soul!
4. Herod hears of these wise men who have come to worship a king, and he is immediately threatened.
vi. The sheer hypocrisy is staggering:
1. These Pharisees wouldn’t dream of eating pork or lobster, but they are willing to put Jesus to death because He healed a guy on the Sabbath.
2. These Pharisees would never over-eat or over-drink or cuss, but they conspire to kill Jesus because He healed a man on the Sabbath.
3. This is external religion. It’s hypocrisy.
1. I lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because what could anyone do to stop it?
2. A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard the cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars!
3. Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us.
4. We knew the time the train was coming, and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more.
5. Years have passed, and no one talks about it anymore. But I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. God forgive me; forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians yet did nothing to intervene.
viii. The Pharisees would rather see a man sick than healed on the Sabbath.
1. It’s total hypocrisy.
ix. James Emery White tells the following story about his visit to the Eagle and Child pub in Great Britain, the place where C. S. Lewis and his friends used to meet.
1. One day, as I sat at my favorite little table, and another stream of tourists entered—and left—I heard the manager muttering, "Bloody Christians." I was enough of a regular to feel comfortable asking him what he meant.
2. "Take a look at this," he said, holding up a menu.
3. "They cost me two pounds each. Two pounds! I ordered hundreds of them, and now I only have ten because they keep getting nicked."
4. "You mean people are stealing them?" I asked incredulously.
5. "Yeah, the bloody Christians take the menus, while the bloody students take the spoons and ashtrays."
6. Understanding students' obvious need for utensils, I couldn't help but ask, "Why the menus?"
7. "I don't know, it's what they can get their hands on, I suppose," he answered. "It got so bad I started making copies of the menu that they could take—for free—but they still take the good ones."
8. "I'm surprised they don't try and take what's on the walls, then," I mused, looking at the pictures, plaque, and particularly the framed handwritten letter from Lewis, Tolkien, and others commemorating the day they had drunk to the barmaid's health.
9. "Oh, those aren't real," he said, "just copies. They still get taken. I'd never put the real ones up."
10. He paused a moment, and then said, "What gets me is that all these people who come in for Lewis are supposed to be Christians, right?"
11. Yes, I thought to myself, they are.
12. The irony is bitter; the manager of The Eagle and Child pub holds Christians and, one would surmise, Christianity itself, in disdain because of the behavior of the Christians who flock to pay homage to Lewis. Many wouldn't dare drink a pint [of beer], but they will gladly steal.
x. It’s true, many Christians wouldn’t dare smoke a pipe or drink a pint, but they have no problem with abject materialism and greed. No problem with spiritual laziness and gossip.
IV. The Pharisees think that Jesus is Satanic (12:22-29).
a. By now the hearts of the Pharisees are set against Jesus. They don’t want Him gone, they want Him dead.
i. Starting in verse 22 we read of a demon-oppressed man who is blind and mute.
ii. Jesus heals him and there are two responses:
1. “Can this be the Messiah? Is this the Son of David?”
2. Or (from the Pharisees)
3. “Jesus did this because He’s empowered by Beelzebul. Jesus is Satanic.”
4. The first time the Pharisees claim that Satan is the source of Jesus’ miracles is in chapter 9.
b. Jesus answers the Pharisees (12:25-29).
i. His argument:
1. “A city or home or kingdom divided against itself won’t last long” (12:25).
a. How can Satan cast out Satan?
b. “If Satan is casting out Satan, he is fighting against himself” (12:26–29).
c. Jesus confronts their unpardonable sin (12:30-32)
i. The unpardonable sin:
1. J. F. Walvoord captures the sense concisely: “attributing to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God”
2. The unpardonable sin is not murder, adultery, incest, or divorce.
3. The unpardonable sin is an unrelenting rejecting of Jesus.
4. “The essence of the “unforgivable sin” is a refusal to accept forgiveness from Christ in the face of evidence that Jesus is the Christ. The unforgivable sin is deliberately and knowingly attributing the works of the Holy Spirit in the Messiah-Christ to Satan.”
5. You see, if you reject Christ, the Spirit by which He saves, then you cut off the only branch that can save you.He He
6. Moreover, professing believers who fear they have committed the unforgivable sin demonstrate a concern for their spiritual welfare which by definition proves they have not committed it.
7. Anyone who desires God’s forgiveness for anything will receive it. Therefore, the only truly unforgivable sin is one for which the sinner refuses to seek forgiveness.
8. It also follows that the unforgivable sin exists only for the person who maintains his refusal of God’s forgiveness throughout his lifetime. If at any time he changes his mind and desires forgiveness, Jesus’ warning no longer applies to him.
ii. Can I commit the unpardonable sin today?
1. Yea, just reject the gospel. That’s unpardonable. Unbelief is the common denominator in hell. It’s unpardonable.
2. Remember unbelief is not intellectual, it’s moral. It’s a moral refusal to bend the knee in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
d. Jesus condemns the Pharisees.
i. They are corrupt fruit trees (12:33).
1. A tree is known by its fruit.
2. The tree is nice and green and the fruit looks good on the outside, but then you take a bite and you nearly vomit.
3. That’s the Pharisees, they look good on the outside. They are great at externals, but their hearts are hard toward God.
4. They have rejected the gospel.
ii. They speak and condemn Jesus out of the overflow of their hearts, and Jesus says things will not go well for them at the Judgment.
a. As I think about what to draw out of Matthew 12, I think of two main things.
i. The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
ii. The Rejection of Jesus.
i. The Pharisees were hypocrites:
1. The name Pharisee is nearly synonymous with hypocrite. For good reason.
2. The Pharisees were examples, par excellance, of hypocrisy.
3. Luke 18
4. We gamble and cheat, but we balance it out with good works.
ii. The Pharisees cared about externals.
1. They were in to image management and externals.
2. They represented works-based system of religion.
iii. Religion by works
iv. Sheer hypocrisy
1. They would rather have a man keep his withered hand than be healed on the Sabbath.
v. We need to careful not to be like the Pharisees:
1. Many Christians today are totally fine partying or getting drunk, but their spiritual life is dead.
2. Externally, they may have the appearance of being religious. They may faithfully attend church, home group, but their spiritual life is diseased and nearly dead.
3. It’s hypocrisy.
vi. OR, there can be a pride about the things we believe.
1. I go to the right church.
2. I take the Lord’s Supper every week.
3. I believe in expositional preaching.
4. I believe in a plurality of elders.
5. I believe in church planting.
6. I believe in a high view of Scripture.
vii. BUT internally, there is no life. It’s all about the externals, but very little internal.
1. Charles Swindoll in his book on Grace puts it this way, "You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here’s how - guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith. Sneak around and pretend your spirituality. Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do’s and don’ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately . . . yet never own up to the fact that its hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it - emotional and spiritual damage will occur." Charles Swindoll.
viii. There is another form of hypocrisy:
1. It’s a hypocrisy under the guise of “authenticity.”
2. A few years ago in Texas there were two men who robbed a bank. One wore a ski mask and the other did not. They both were captured and ultimately appeared before the judge for sentencing. The one without the mask could have stated, "Look, I know that robbing the bank was the wrong thing to do, but at least I was not hypocritical about it. I didn't try to cover up who I was. I was open and honest. That should be worth something as far as leniency is concerned." The judge sentenced both men to the same time in prison.
3. Some people display hypocrisy under the guise of authenticity. I’m just being real. Or, I’m just being myself. "I know I'm not perfect, but at least I'm not hypocritical about it."
4. That’s the worst kind of hypocrisy.
ix. Jesus cares about internals—the heart.
1. Robert Redford was walking one day through a hotel lobby. A woman saw him and followed him to the elevator. "Are you the real Robert Redford?" she asked him with great excitement. As the doors of the elevator closed, he replied, "Only when I am alone!"
c. The Rejection of Jesus.
i. This is really Matthew’s main point in chapter 12. Jesus is rejected.
1. Not much has changed today.
ii. We can trace the rejection of Jesus all the way through Matthew’s gospel.
iii. We see hostility and rejection at Jesus’ birth.
1. Not only was there no place for Him in the Inn, but the world’s leaders wanted to kill Him.
2. Herod, representing the world’s leaders, wanted to kill Jesus, and he ends up killing an entire village of children in the process.
iv. We see hostility and rejection foretold in chapter 5, in the Beatitudes.
1. “blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Mat. 5:11
2. It’s as though Jesus is priming the pump for what life will be like as His disciple.
v. We see it in chapter 9 when Jesus heals a demon-oppressed man who was mute.
1. When the mute man spoke, the crowds saw it and all exclaimed, “Nothing like this has ever been done in Israel!”
2. The Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons…”
vi. We see it in chapter 10, when Jesus sends them out and tells them that persecution will come.
1. It will come from Religious people.
2. It will come from the State.
3. It will come from family members.
4. It will come from all of society.
5. Again, Jesus is clearly preparing his followers for a choppy ride ahead.
6. John 15:18-20, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
vii. In chapter 11, John the Baptist is a little disillusioned with Jesus because John is stuck in prison.
1. He’s thinking, “So is this the plan?...Here I sit in prison” “why all the hostility?” “Why all the persecution?” “If Jesus is the Messiah, is this how things go?”
2. “Why is the gospel to unpopular?” “Why isn’t it more well received?”
3. Later in chapter 11 we see Jesus denounce entire towns because they heard the gospel, and had seen him do signs and wonders, but rejected Him and the News.
4. “Woe to you! Woe to you!”
viii. But we especially see it in chapter 12. It’s in this chapter where the Pharisees conspire to kill Jesus.
1. This is the height of craziness and moral insanity.
2. Rather than fall down and worship Him, they reject Him.
3. After He heals a man with a withered hand, they conspire to kill him.
4. The Jesus heals another demon-possed man who is blind and mute, and the Pharisees say it’s Satanic!
5. They reason Jesus could do this is because He’s possessed by Satan.
6. It doesn’t matter how much information they are given.
7. It doesn’t matter how much proof they are given.
8. It doesn’t matter how much evidence they are given.
9. It doesn’t matter how much they hear and see.
10. Rather than bend the knee, they sharpen their swords.
11. If we think about it, Matthew has been showing the rejection of Jesus from the very beginning of his gospel.
12. He is telling the story of the Good News, but the Good News wasn’t well received. And it still isn’t…
ix. This hostility and rejection is all building up for chapter 13.
1. Matthew is clearly displaying something.
2. He is preparing for chapter 13.
3. Where he starts speaking in parables and explains that the Good News of the gospel will have mixed reviews.
4. The seed will be scattered. The seed is the Word of the Good News. But most people will not respond positively to it.
5. The age of sowing the seed will be marked with indifference and hostility.
6. We might be tempted to become disillusioned like John the Baptist was.
7. “Why aren’t people responding?” “Is this how it’s supposed to go?”
8. Jesus is preparing them and US, for hostility and rejection.
9. That’s the dispensation we are in now. And age of sowing the seed, and having people yawn. Or worse, persecute.
d. The Rejection will be cultural.
i. The truth will be met with more opposition and antagonism.
ii. This will steadily increase until the Lord returns. It was predicted.
1. Think about how much we know today. It’s marvelous.
2. Christians should love science. It’s the unfolding back of the curtain of God’s revelation.
3. We know so much more about the universe than we did 100 years ago.
4. The size of the universe.
5. The complexity of the cell.
6. DNA. It’s all incredible.
7. But has all of this revelation led to more belief?
8. No, it’s led to more of a rejection! It’s led to a further hardening. A further antagonism.
9. It’s similar to what the Pharisees did.
a. They were given all this revelation, from God Himself in the flesh, but they reject it.
b. They rejected God.
iv. God is also being rejected in our Laws.
1. Maybe you heard the filibuster heard ‘round the world this past week.
2. Wendy David, State Senator from Texas, gave an 11 hour filibuster to delay the passing of a particular bill that would stop late-term abortions.
3. She is now seen as the gladiator for feminism.
a. There was an excellent article written by Kirsten Powers:
i. “It’s amazing what is considered heroism these days. A have been lionized for an eleventh-hour filibuster against a for mothers to abort babies past 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of severe fetal abnormalities or to protect the life or health of the mother. People actually cheered this.
ii. , if you are in the 25th week of your pregnancy, “Get ready for pat-a-cake! Baby’s hands are now fully developed and he spends most of his awake time groping around in the darkness of your uterus. Brain and nerve endings are developed enough now so that your baby can feel the sensation of touch.” Let’s be clear: Davis has been called a hero for trying to block a bill that would make aborting this baby illegal.”
b. This is moral insanity, but it’s no more insane than hearing and seeing the words and works of the Messiah, and rejecting it.
v. That story, on the heels of the other story of the Tsunami of homosexuality and visceral antagonism to Biblical principles regarding marriage.
e. What should be our response?
i. We resonate with John the Baptist and ask, “Is the Good News working? Or shall we propose another?”
ii. American evangelicalism has had an insecurity problem for a while. We have tried to fight fire with fire and put our best efforts forward in politics and lobbying and legislation.
iii. Now. Laws matter, especially if you a helpless baby in a womb.
iv. But the Church’s response to the culture, should not be with legislation and lobbying. But it should be to cast out the seed of the Good News.
v. Our response to Wendy Davis and Same-Sex marriage should be, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Knowing that most will reject it, we may even be hated for it, but that’s what the Lord has called us to!
vi. We are in the age of sewing the seed of the Gospel! And we should expect antagonism on every front!
f. The rejection will be personal as well.
i. During WWI one of my predecessors at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Donald Grey Barnhouse, led the son of a prominent American family to the Lord. He was in the service, but he showed the reality of his conversion by immediately professing Christ before the soldiers of his military company. The war ended. The day came when he was to return to his pre-war life in the wealthy suburb of a large American city. He talked to Barnhouse about life with his family and expressed fear that he might soon slip back into his old habits. He was afraid that love for parents, brothers, sisters, and friends might turn him from following after Jesus Christ. Barnhouse told him that if he was careful to make public confession of his faith in Christ, he would not have to worry. He would not have to give improper friends up. They would give him up.
ii. As a result of this conversation the young man agreed to tell the first ten people of his old set whom he encountered that he had become a Christian. The soldier went home. Almost immediately--in fact, while he was still on the platform of the suburban station at the end of his return trip--he met a girl whom he had known socially. She was delighted to see him and asked how he was doing. He told her, "The greatest thing that could possibly happen to me has happened." "You're engaged to be married," she exclaimed. "No," he told her. "It's even better than that. I've taken the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior." The girls' expression froze. She mumbled a few polite words and went on her way. A short time later the new Christian met a young man whom he had known before going into the service. "It's good to see you back," he declared. "We'll have some great parties now that you've returned." "I've just become a Christian," the soldier said. He was thinking, That's two! Again it was a case of a frozen smile and a quick change of conversation. After this the same circumstances were repeated with a young couple and with two more old friends. By this time word had got around, and soon some of his friends stopped seeing him. He had become peculiar, religious, and -- who knows! -- they may even have called him crazy! What had he done? Nothing but confess Christ. The same confession that had aligned him with Christ had separated him from those who did not want Jesus Christ as Savior and who, in fact, did not even want to hear about Him. J.M Boice, Christ's Call To Discipleship, Moody, 1986, p. 122-23.
g. Stop rejecting Jesus! It’s not too late!
i. Stop rejecting Jesus! It’s not too late!
1. “On August 30, 2005 Coast Guard Lieutenant Iain McConnell was ordered to fly his H46 helicopter to New Orleans and to keep that machine flying around the clock for what would turn out to be a heroic rescue effort. None of his crew were prepared for what they were about to see. They were ahead of every news crew in the nation. The entire city of New Orleans was under water. On their first three missions that day they saved 89 people, three dogs and two cats.
2. On the fourth mission, despite twelve different flights to New Orleans, he and his crew were able to save no one. None! They all refused to board the helicopter. Instead they told the Coast Guard to bring them food and water. Yet they were warned that this extremely dangerous. The waters were not going to go away soon. Sadly, many of those people perished because of their refusal to be rescued.”
VI. The Gospel.