Sunday, June 25, 2023

A Study of Matthew Chapter 12:9-21

by Stan Feldsine (

Matthew 12:9-14 - Healing and Saving Animals on the Sabbath

Luke records that the healing of the man with the withered hand took place on "another Sabbath". It should not be assumed that these two Sabbath day healing took place on the same day (Luk 6:1-6).

Again, the Pharisees are not seeking understanding, they are seeking to entrap Jesus with their interpretations of the law, especially their traditions. Jesus knew their wicked plans, having the Holy Spirit and discernment. It should be noted that Jesus, having emptied Himself of His advantages as God, relied upon the Holy Spirit (Php 2:6-7, Act 10:37-38). Jesus discerned that they were looking to accuse Him of breaking Sabbath law by healing on the Sabbath (Luk 6:7).

Jesus again calls deliberate attention to what He was about to do, in the face of the Pharisees who sought to kill Him. Luke records Jesus calling the man to Himself (Luk 6:8).

Jesus then describes events that would be familiar to all the Jews in attendance, showing circumstances in which it is legal to heal on the Sabbath. If an animal falls into a pit, of course they were permitted to pull them out of the pit. Since a human is of much more value than an animal, it is also lawful to heal a human on the Sabbath. The Pharisees had no answer to this, and Jesus demonstrates for us what it means to be "gentle as a dove and shrewd as a serpent" in this exchange (Mar 3:4). Jesus was angry and distressed with these religious leaders (Mar 3:5).

And so, the man's hand was healed. Rather than rejoicing that the healing power of God was present with them through the Messiah King, the religious leaders were enraged and sought to kill him (Luk 6:11). Why were they so enraged? Jesus was tearing down their oral law and traditions and shining a light on the true purpose for the law. In this case, the Sabbath was to be a blessing, and the Pharisees had made it into a burden. This dismantling of power and authority that the Pharisees had over the people through their oral law and traditions is what enraged them. Their power structure was being challenged.

This event is significant because it is a clear demonstration of the theological proposition of the blindness of the unsaved mind. To see such radical healings of such benefit to mankind, and to respond to this with murderous anger and distress clearly indicates an irrational state of mind. Such a mind cannot be reasoned with.

It is for this reason that evangelism must always start with the gospel message of salvation, and rebirth in the Holy Spirit. Without accepting the gospel of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, rational theological thought cannot be achieved (1Co 2:11-14).

A willing man will accept Christ, receive the Spirit, and come to understand the things of the Spirit. An unwilling man will remain in darkness, and rebellion will increase the darkness.

Matthew 12:15-21 - God's Chosen Servant

Knowing that the Pharisees seek to kill Him, Jesus warns the crowds not to speak of what they saw, an effort to avoid the plots of the Pharisees and extend His life. It was not yet the Father's time for Jesus's death.

Jesus also fulfilled prophecy by withdrawing and not staying to fight. His desire was still to bring about reconciliation between Himself and the nation of Israel Isa 42:1-3). These verses and the prophecy show that Jesus would not quarrel over or forcibly establish the Kingdom. He was not going to be a warrior king. This would be the case until the second coming, when He would lead "justice through to victory", as the King of Kings ruling with a rod of iron Rev 19:11-16).


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