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
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
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
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
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
26 So if Satan drives out Satan, he is divided: how then can his reign
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
50 Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is for me brother, sister,
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.