Matthew 12:1-50

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath Day

One Sabbath day Jesus walked through the grainfields. His disciples were hungry. So they began to break off some heads of grain and eat them. The Pharisees saw this. They said to Jesus, “Look! It is against the Law to do this on the Sabbath day. But your disciples are doing it anyway!”

Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read about what David did? He and his men were hungry. So he entered the house of God. He and his men ate the holy bread. Only priests were allowed to eat it. Haven’t you read the Law? It tells how every Sabbath day the priests in the temple have to do their work on that day. But they are not considered guilty. I tell you that something more important than the temple is here. Scripture says, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice.’ (Hosea 6:6) You don’t know what those words mean. If you did, you would not bring charges against those who are not guilty. The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath day.”

Going on from that place, Jesus went into their synagogue. A man with a weak and twisted hand was there. The Pharisees were trying to accuse Jesus of a crime. So they asked him, “Does the Law allow us to heal on the Sabbath day?”

He said to them, “What if one of your sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath day? Won’t you take hold of it and lift it out? A person is worth more than sheep! So the Law allows us to do good on the Sabbath day.”

Then Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out. It had been made as good as new. It was just as good as the other hand. But the Pharisees went out and planned how to kill Jesus.

God’s Chosen Servant

Jesus knew all about the Pharisees’ plans. So he left that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were sick. But he warned them not to tell other people about him. This was to make what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah come true. It says,

“Here is my servant. I have chosen him.

He is the one I love. I am very pleased with him.

I will put my Spirit on him.

He will announce to the nations that everything will be made right.

He will not argue or cry out.

No one will hear his voice in the streets.

He will not break a bent twig.

He will not put out a dimly burning flame.

He will make right win over wrong.

The nations will put their hope in him.” (Isaiah 42:1–4)

Jesus and Beelzebul

A man controlled by demons was brought to Jesus. The man was blind and could not speak. Jesus healed him. Then the man could speak and see. All the people were amazed. They said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

The Pharisees heard this. So they said, “This fellow drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons.”

Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he said to them, “Every kingdom that fights against itself will be destroyed. Every city or family that is divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he fights against himself. Then how can his kingdom stand? You say I drive out demons by the power of Beelzebul. Then by whose power do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But suppose I drive out demons by the Spirit of God. Then the kingdom of God has come to you.

“Or think about this. How can you enter a strong man’s house and just take what the man owns? You must first tie him up. Then you can rob his house.

“Anyone who is not with me is against me. Anyone who does not gather sheep with me scatters them. So here is what I tell you. Every kind of sin and every evil word spoken against God will be forgiven. But speaking evil things against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. A person like that won’t be forgiven either now or in days to come.

“If you make a tree good, its fruit will be good. If you make a tree bad, its fruit will be bad. You can tell a tree by its fruit. You nest of poisonous snakes! How can you who are evil say anything good? Your mouths say everything that is in your hearts. A good man says good things. These come from the good that is stored up inside him. An evil man says evil things. These come from the evil that is stored up inside him. But here is what I tell you. On judgment day, everyone will have to account for every empty word they have spoken. By your words you will be found guilty or not guilty.”

The Sign of Jonah

Some of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law came to Jesus. They said, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

He answered, “Evil and unfaithful people ask for a sign! But none will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of a huge fish for three days and three nights. Something like that will happen to the Son of Man. He will spend three days and three nights in the grave. The men of Nineveh will stand up on judgment day with the people now living. And the Ninevites will prove that these people are guilty. The men of Nineveh turned away from their sins when Jonah preached to them. And now something more important than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will stand up on judgment day with the people now living. And she will prove that they are guilty. She came from very far away to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. And now something more important than Solomon is here.

“What happens when an evil spirit comes out of a person? It goes through dry areas looking for a place to rest. But it doesn’t find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives there, it finds the house empty. The house has been swept clean and put in order. Then the evil spirit goes and takes with it seven other spirits more evil than itself. They go in and live there. That person is worse off than before. That is how it will be with the evil people of today.”

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside. They wanted to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside. They want to speak to you.”

Jesus replied to him, “Who is my mother? And who are my brothers?” Jesus pointed to his disciples. He said, “Here is my mother! Here are my brothers! Anyone who does what my Father in heaven wants is my brother or sister or mother.”

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