Matthew 12: Sign of the Prophet Jonah

Why did the Pharisees complain to Jesus about his disciples picking grain to eat?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:1–2 On a Sabbath day, Jesus went through the grain fields. His disciples were hungry, so they picked some heads of grain. They rubbed off the husks with their hands and ate the kernels. When the Pharisees saw them, they said to Jesus, “Look! Your disciples are doing work that is not permitted on the Sabbath.”
King James
Matthew 12:1–2 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

In what ways had the Pharisees misjudged the disciples?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:3–8 “Haven’t you read,” Jesus said, “what David and his men did when they were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the sacred bread that only the priests were allowed to eat. He also gave loaves to his men. Haven’t you read in the Law that the Temple priests desecrate the Sabbath but are innocent? I tell you, one greater than the Temple is here. If you knew what the prophet meant when he said, I wanted you to show love, not make sacrifices, you would not condemn these innocent men. The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
King James
Matthew 12:3–8 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

Why did the Pharisees question Jesus in the synagogue and not outside?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:9–10 Jesus left and entered the synagogue, where there was a man with a crippled hand. The Pharisees were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they said, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
King James
Matthew 12:9–10 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

How strong was Jesus’ answer about healing on the Sabbath?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Deuteronomy 22:4 When you’re walking down the road, if you see a man’s donkey or ox fall, don’t pretend that you didn’t see didn’t see what happened. Help the man get the animal back onto its feet.
Matthew 12:11–12 He said, “If you had a lamb that fell into a pit on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. People are much more valuable than sheep. Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
King James
Deuteronomy 22:4 Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.
Matthew 12:11–12 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

Why were the Pharisees furious when Jesus healed the man with the crippled hand?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:13–14 He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
As the man reached out, his hand became completely restored, as healthy as the other.
The Pharisees were furious and immediately plotted how they might kill Jesus.
King James
Matthew 12:13–14 VThen saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

What might the common people have thought about Jesus healing the man with the crippled hand?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:15–16 Aware of the threat from the Pharisees, Jesus left town and went to the lakeshore. A large crowd from Galilee and Judea followed. He healed their sick but sternly ordered them not to tell who he was.
King James
Matthew 12:15–16 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; and charged them that they should not make him known:

Why did Jesus warn people not to tell who he was?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:15–16 Aware of the threat from the Pharisees, Jesus left town and went to the lakeshore. A large crowd from Galilee and Judea followed. He healed their sick but sternly ordered them not to tell who he was.
King James
Matthew 12:15–16 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; and charged them that they should not make him known:

Why did Matthew say this event fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:17–22 This event fulfilled what the prophet Isaiah wrote long ago:
Here is my chosen servant, my beloved in whom I am well pleased. I have put my Spirit upon him to bring justice to the people. He will not argue or raise his voice in the streets. He will not break off a weakened reed or put out a flickering lamp but will judge in truth. He will not quit until he has established justice throughout the earth. Distant lands will place their hope in him.
When people brought to Jesus a man who was blind and could not speak because of an evil spirit, Jesus healed him so he could both see and talk.
King James
Matthew 12:17–22 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.

How did the crowd’s view of Jesus differ from the Pharisees?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:23–24 The crowd was astonished, saying, “Could this be the Son of David?”
Pharisees heard what the people said. “No,” they said. “This man casts out evil spirits by the power of Beelzebub, the ruler of evil spirits.”
King James
Matthew 12:23–24 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

How could Jesus know what people were thinking?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Psalm 139:2 You see every time I sit or stand. No matter how distant I might think I am, you still know my thoughts.
Matthew 12:25 Jesus knew what the people were pondering, so he said, “A kingdom working against itself will soon be destroyed. Any city or family who fights internally cannot last very long.
John 4:29 “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could he be the Messiah?”
King James
Psalm 139:2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
John 4:29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

After the Pharisees’ accusation that Jesus was being used of the devil, how effective do you think his defense was? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:25–28 Jesus knew what the people were pondering, so he said, “A kingdom working against itself will soon be destroyed. Any city or family who fights internally cannot last very long. If Satan drives out Satan, he is warring against himself, and his kingdom cannot survive. If Beelzebub is my power over evil spirits, by whom do your followers cast them out? They prove you are using a double standard of judgment. But if I cast out evil spirits by the Spirit of God, the Kingdom of God has come unto you.”
King James
Matthew 12:25–28 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

What can we understand from Jesus’ explanation of authority?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:29 “How can a man force his way into a strong man’s house and take his property? First he must bind the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.”
King James
Matthew 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

Why can’t we be both for and against something?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:30 “Anyone who is not with me is against me. If you are not gathering with me, you are scattering.”
King James
Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

What is “speaking evil of the Holy Spirit”? Why is that unforgiveable?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:31–32 “Understand this: all kinds of sin and evil speaking may be forgiven, but speaking evil of the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven. You may speak against the Son of Man and be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Not now. Not ever.”
King James
Matthew 12:31–32 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

When Jesus said we should judge a tree by its fruit, what was he talking about?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:33 “Either a tree is good, and its fruit is good, or the tree is bad, and its fruit is bad. A tree must be judged by its fruit.”
King James
Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

If we can say something other than what we mean, how can it be true that “as the heart overflows, the mouth speaks”?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:34–35 “You pit of snakes. If you are evil, how can you say anything good? As the heart overflows, the mouth speaks. From the treasury of a good heart, a good person brings forth good things. From the treasury of an evil heart, an evil person brings forth evil things.
King James
Matthew 12:34–35 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

How can people be accountable for speaking without thinking?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:36–37 “You can be sure, on Judgment Day, people will have to account for every word carelessly spoken. By your words, you will be either justified or condemned.”
King James
Matthew 12:36–37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Why did the Pharisees and teachers of the Law ask Jesus for a miraculous sign? Why did Jesus refuse?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:39–40 At that time, some Pharisees and teachers of the Law said, “Teacher, show us a miraculous sign that will prove your authority.” Jesus said, “Wicked and adulterous people demand miraculous signs, but no sign will come except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
King James
Matthew 12:39–40 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

What is the “sign of the prophet Jonah”?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:39–40 Jesus said, “Wicked and adulterous people demand miraculous signs, but no sign will come except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Just as Jonah spent three days and nights in the fish’s belly, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and nights.”
King James
Matthew 12:39–40 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

In what ways were the people of Nineveh different from who Jesus was speaking to?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:41 “The people of Nineveh give evidence to condemn this generation, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. Behold, someone greater than Jonah is here, but you do not repent.”
King James
Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

What made Jesus’ words better than Solomon’s wisdom? Why wouldn’t some people listen?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:42 “The Queen of Sheba will testify and condemn this generation, because she came from far away to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone wiser than Solomon is here, but you refuse to listen.”
King James
Matthew 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

Some have said, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” How might that saying be compared with what Jesus’ description of the behavior of evil spirits?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:43–45 “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it wanders through barren places in search of rest but finds none. It then says, ‘I know. I will return to the person I left.’ It finds its former home empty, swept clean and ready to be occupied. So it finds seven spirits more evil than itself, and they go to live there. That person is worse off than before. This is what will happen to the evil people of this generation.”
King James
Matthew 12:43–45 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

What did Jesus say about his family relationships? What makes us a part of his family?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 12:46–50 While Jesus talked to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside the crowded house, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside. They want to talk with you.”
“Who is my mother?” he said. “Who are my brothers?” He pointed to his followers. “Here are my brothers and my mother. Anyone who does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother, sister, and mother.”
King James
Matthew 12:46–50 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.