Matthew 12:9-21 (Sabbath Controversy; Jesus Begins to Withdraw)

Mat 12:9-14    Who was it that questioned Jesus in Mat 12:10?  See Mat 12:2.  What question did they ask Him?  What did they believe was the correct answer to their question, and what did they expect Jesus to answer?  For what purpose then did they ask Him?  How is that like many religious people today who have made up their mind about a particular issue and then question others about it as a litmus test?  What sorts of questions do religious people today ask of others in order to accuse them?  What is the danger of posing such questions for the purpose of accusing others?  See Rev 12:10, Zec 3:1.  How important of an issue was it to the Pharisees to not heal on the Sabbath?  See Mat 12:14 and cf. Mar 3:6, Luk 6:11; see also Luk 13:10-17, Joh 5:8-10,15-18, 7:23, 9:13-16.  Why do you think that not performing a miraculous healing on the Sabbath was so essential an issue to them that they would conspire with the Herodians (who were their otherwise hated rivals) to destroy Jesus over it?  Think: in what ways did the Pharisees use their Sabbath views to validate or certify their religious superiority, and how was Jesus’ ministry tarnishing their reputation among the people?  What does this teach us about the difference between a form of godliness and true godliness, and the inherent danger to those who serve God only in pretense?  See Mar 3:5 for Jesus’ reaction to their hypocrisy, and cf. Heb 3:7-15.  What sorts of religious acts do people today use to validate to themselves or others the superiority of their religious faith?  What do they tend to do when someone points out the inconsistency of their religious acts with the substance of true religion?  See again Mat 12:14.  How did Jesus point out the inconsistency of the Pharisees’ religious pretense?  See Mat 12:11.  What was His answer to the Pharisees’ question about whether or not it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath?  See Mat 12:12.  How did His answer go beyond the issue of healing, and negate their understanding that it was unlawful to do any sort of work on the Sabbath?  See also Joh 5:16-17.  In what way is Mat 12:11 a picture of our spiritual salvation?  Think: in what similar way does the Lord Jesus raise us up from the pit of destruction?  See Psa 40:1-2, 2Co 4:14.  What does Mat 12:12 teach us about the notion held by many that man is just an animal, and hence of no greater importance than other animals?

Mat 12:15-21  What did Jesus do as a result of the threat posed to Him by the religious leaders where He was ministering?  See Mat 12:15.  Are there people today whom doctors with all the wonders of their modern medicine are unable to heal?  How many was Jesus unable to heal?  See Mat 12:15.  What does this teach us about who is most able to fulfill our hopes even for physical healing?  Why did Jesus warn those whom He healed not to make Him known?  Think: In light of people’s mistaken expectations of how the Messiah would deliver them from their physical oppressors, what would a widespread acknowledgment among the people that Jesus was the Messiah lead to?  See Joh 6:15.  How would these verses explain why Jesus was not universally recognized among the Jews as their Messiah?  Consider that at the time Matthew was writing the unbelieving Jews were downplaying Jesus’ ministry to undercut His followers’ claims that He was Messiah as well as using the gospel advance to the Gentiles to foment Jewish animosity towards Him; what apologetic value would these verses have had at this time?  Think: why was Jesus’ voice not widely heard in the Jewish streets, and why was there no nationwide political quarrel between Him and the establishment by which He established Himself to be the Messiah?  See Mat 12:19.  Why was the gospel advance to the Gentiles not a reason to reject Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, but rather a proof that He was the Messiah?  See Mat 12:17-18,21; cf. Isa 42:1-7.  What is the significance of the prophecy in Mat 12:20 from Isaiah?  See Mat 12:15 and consider the many battered reeds the Pharisees would break off and the smoldering wicks they would put out in order to uphold their religious traditions.  Are we like that?

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