Matthew Chapter 12
Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath

1 It happened that Jesus walked through the wheat fields on a Sab bath. His disciples were hungry, and began to pick some heads of wheat and crush them to eat the grain.

2 When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, ¡°Look at your disciples; they are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!¡±

3 Jesus answered, ¡°Have you not read what David did when he and his men were hungry?

4 He went into the house of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, although neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests.

5 And have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the Temple break the Sabbath rest, yet they are not guilty?

6 I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here.

7 If you really knew the meaning of the words: It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.

8 Besides the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.¡±

9 Jesus then left that place and went into one of their syna gogues.

10 A man was there with a paralyzed hand, and people who wanted to bring a charge against Jesus asked him, ¡°Is it permitted to heal on the Sab bath?¡±

11 But he said to them, ¡°What if one of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath? Will you not take hold of your sheep and lift it out?

12 But a human person is much more valuable than a sheep! It is therefore permitted to do good on the Sabbath.¡±

13 Then Jesus said to the man, ¡°Stretch out your arm.¡± He stretched it out and it was completely restored, as sound as the other one.

14 Then the Pharisees went out and made plans to get rid of him.

15 As Jesus was aware of the plot, he went away from that place. Many people followed him and he cured all who were sick.

16 Then he gave them strict orders not to make him known.

17 In this way Isaiah¡¯s prophecy was fulfilled:

18 Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, and with whom I am pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him and he will an nounce my judgment to the nations.

19 He will not argue or shout, nor will his voice be heard in the streets.

20 The bruised reed he will not crush, nor snuff out the smoldering wick. He will persist until justice is made victorious

21 and in him all the na tions will put their hope.¡±

The unforgivable sin

22 Then some people brought to him a possessed man who was blind and who could not talk. Jesus healed the man, who was then able to speak and see.

23 All in the crowd were amazed and wondered, ¡°Could he be the Son of David?¡±

24 When the Pharisees heard this, they said, ¡°It is by Beelzebul, prince of the devils, that this man drives out devils.¡±

25 Jesus knew their thinking, so he said to them, ¡°Every kingdom that is divided by civil war will fall apart, and every dynasty that is divided cannot last.

26 So if Satan drives out Satan, he is divided: how then can his reign stand?

27 And if it is by Beelzebul that I drive out devils, by whom do your own people drive them out? They themselves will give you the answer.

28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out devils, then the kingdom of God has already come upon you.

29 How can anyone break into the strong man¡¯s house and make off with his belongings, unless he first ties him up? Only then can he plunder his house.

30 The one who is not with me is against me, and the one who does not gather with me scatters.

31 And so I tell you this: people can be forgiven any sin and any evil thing they say against God, but whoever says evil words against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

32 The one who speaks against the Son of Man, will be forgiven; but the one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

33 If you have a sound tree, its fruit will be sound; if you have a rotten tree, its fruit will be rotten. For you can know a tree by its fruit.

34 You brood of vipers, how can you say anything good, when you are so evil? For the mouth speaks of what fills the heart.

35 A good person produces good things from his good store, and an evil person produces evil from his evil store.

36 I tell you this; on the judgment day people will have to give an account of any unjustified word they have spoken.

37 Your own words will declare you either innocent or guilty.¡±

Jesus criticizes his own generation

38 Then some teachers of the Law and some Pharisees spoke up, ¡°Teach er, we want to see a sign from you.¡±

39 Jesus answered them, ¡°An evil and unfaithful people want a sign, but no sign will be given them except the sign of the pro phet Jonah.

40 In the same way that Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the monster fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and three nights in the depths of the earth.

41 At the judgment, the people of Nineveh will rise with this generation and condemn it, because they reformed their lives at the preaching of Jonah, and here there is greater than Jonah.

42 At the judgment, the Queen of the South will stand up and condemn you. She came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and here there is greater than Solomon.

43 When an evil spirit goes out of a person, it wanders over arid wastelands looking for a place to rest but it cannot find one.

44 Then it says to itself: ¡®I will go back to my house which I had to leave.¡¯ So it goes back and finds the house empty, clean, and in order.

45 Off it goes again to bring back with it, this time, seven spirits, more evil than itself. They move in and settle there, so that this person is finally in a worse state than he was at the beginning. This is what will happen to this evil generation.¡±

46 While Jesus was still talking to the peo ple, his mother and his brothers wanted to speak to him and they waited outside.

47 So someone said to him, ¡°Your mother and your brothers are just outside; they want to speak with you.¡±

48 Jesus answered, ¡°Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?¡±

49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, ¡°Look! Here are my mother and my brothers.

50 Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is for me brother, sister, or mother.¡±


Comments Mathew, Chapter 12

• 12.1 This chapter records the conflicts of Jesus with the Pharisees regarding the Sabbath. Why does the gospel make so much of these conflicts? Perhaps because at the time of Jesus the heavy load of religious obligations was a formidable obstacle for those searching for God. It may have been also because the Christians lost no time making new laws to which they gave an exaggerated importance. If Jesus deliberately violated the most sacred of the laws given by God to Moses, what about our ecclesiastical laws not guaranteed by the Word of God? In the name of man-made laws, adapted to a context that is not ours, Christian communities have at times been paralyzed and we let millions of people look for church es where they have the communities and pastors they have been deprived of.

• 22. See commentary on Mark 3:22.

Your own people (v. 27). Jesus refers here to the Jewish exorcists who cast out demons with prayers and formularies, as told in Acts 19:13.

Slander against the Holy Spirit. This means attributing to the devil the good actions of the Spirit, as we see in Mark 3:30.

Either in this age or in the age to come (v. 32). This is a Jewish idiom meaning that this sin cannot be forgiven, by God or people. How can God forgive one who puts himself out of reach of the forgiving God?

If you have a sound tree (v. 33). This is another application of the sentence read in 7:16. It deals here with the accusation against the Pharisees: they slander what ever is good because they have an evil heart.

Your own words will declare you either innocent or guilty (v. 37). See Lk 19:22. Not only the isolated acts of our life are to be judged. Throughout the years we have built up a practical philosophy and a vision of existence. Beginning with that we judge all which in other people questions our own choi ces. It is that itself, these words with which we justify ourselves and condemn others, that deserve to be condemned.

• 38. Jesus did not perform any miracle that day, because the experts in religion were demanding an account of him, instead of listening to him.

An evil and unfaithful people. Gospel says in fact: ¡°evil and adulterous¡±. This expression in the Bible means the unfaithful believer who, without denying God in words, keeps other gods to himself.

The story of the unclean spirit, meaning the devil, is directed towards the contemporaries of Jesus. They accepted John¡¯s call to conversion and for a while changed their way of life. Theirs was not a real experience of God, neither did they discover the inner power that would have enabled them to persevere, and so their blindness remained.

The Ninivites: see Jo nah 3:5.

The Queen of the South: 1 Kings 10.

The sign of Jonah is the resurrection of Je sus. The similarity seen in the three days that Jonah was in the belly of the fish and the time Jesus spent in the tomb is somewhat forced.

• 46. His mother and his brothers. If they were true brothers of Jesus, sons of Mary, the Gospel would say: ¡°his mother and the sons of his mother,¡± for this was the Jewish manner of speak ing. See commentary on Mark 3:31.