BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 12, Day 5: Matthew 12:22-50

Summary of passage:  Again, Jesus was brought a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute and Jesus healed him.  The people were astonished and wondered if this was the Son of David.  The Pharisees said no, it was Beelzebub.  Jesus said why would the devil drive out demons?  It just doesn’t make sense because a city divided against itself cannot stand.

Jesus says if you are not with him then you are against him but every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven as long as it is against men but if it is against the Spirit, it will not be forgiven.

A good tree bears good fruit.  A bad tree bears bad fruit.  Evil cannot say good.  The mouth speaks what is in the heart and you will have to give account on judgment day of every word you have spoken.

The Pharisees ask for a sign to which Jesus responds harshly, saying none of you have repented and you are worse than Nineveh who repented after Jonah was swallowed by the whale.  This generation is more wicked.

Jesus explains that whoever does the will of God is his brother, sister, and mother.

Questions:

11a)  It demonstrated his supernatural healing powers and that he is the Son of Man (or God) and it showed his compassion on people.  It also showed how Jesus is more powerful than demons (or the devil).

b)  Beelzebub is the prince of demons or the devil and the house is the human body or soul.  Basically, Jesus says here he has the power to bind Satan and steal his house (us) back from him and claim us for his kingdom.

12)  Because the Spirit indwells inside Christians and does not allow you to speak ill of the Spirit.  The Spirit will guide you into truth and can speak only what he hears.  You have the Spirit when you believe in Jesus.  Thus, if you believe in Jesus, if you desire and seek him, you cannot blasphemy the Holy Spirit.  It is just impossible.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  My words sometimes reveal anger, bitterness, lack of compassion, selfishness, pride, ignorance, hurt, condescension, and a judgmental attitude.  Sometimes it reveals love, compassion, sacrifice, honor, goodness, righteousness, a desire to do God’s will, contentment, and happiness.  I will pray for more of the latter and an ability to recognize the evil BEFORE it spews forth and replace it with kindness, gentleness, peacefulness, patience, self-control, goodness, faithfulness, love, and joy (the fruits of the spirit Galatians 5:22-23).

14a)  Their intentions were wicked and adulterous.  They weren’t going to change their minds and believe in Jesus no matter what he did.  They were merely trying to trap him so they could execute him.

b)  The sign of the prophet Jonah and it points to how the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (before Jesus rose from the dead).  Jesus is using an analogy here.  Jonah died (was swallowed) for others sins but was resurrected (coughed up so to speak) after three days.  When the people saw this, they repented.  Jesus is saying he is the sign and the same will happen to him.

c)  If you rid yourself of evil but replace it with nothing, then you invite even more evil in.  You need to throw evil out of your life and then replace it with God and the Holy Spirit so that you become better and not worse in the future.

15)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus says whoever does God’s will is his brother, sister, and mother.  Basically, we are adopted into Jesus’ family as believers and if we do God’s will, we get to live with Him forever.  Thus, I am Jesus’ sister.  Pretty cool!

Conclusions:  Some challenging passages here which I did my best to explain as we answered questions on them.  BSF did a great job in covering this passage.  The one thing I would emphasize more is Jesus’ words “He who is not with me is against me.”  If you do not work for Jesus, then you work against him.  This would be any other religion or even those passive in life.  This is black and white, something a lot of people don’t like to hear.  Either you accept Jesus and do his will or you don’t and then you are doing Satan’s will.  That’s the bottom line that many do not want to hear because they think they are doing good in this world.  The fact is Satan is in control of you unless you have the Holy Spirit to drive him away.

My favorite part is how the heart is shown in your words.  That’s one of my favorite passages from Paul’s writings (Ephesians 4:29; 5:19) and it’s an area I struggle with.

End Notes:  Here we see Jesus calling the Pharisees brood of vipers again (verse 34), basically calling them the sons of Satan.  Especially in ancient times the serpent was associated with evil because of its role in the Fall so that is why Jesus calls them vipers, associating them with Satan, which the Jewish people would immediately understand.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 12, Day 4: Matthew 12:1-21

Summary of passage:  On the Sabbath, Jesus and his disciples were walking through grainfields and his disciples began to eat some of the grain.  The Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the law for “doing work” on the Sabbath.  Jesus chastised the Pharisees again, saying if you truly understood the Bible, then you would know of David who broke bread in the temple and how priests do it all the time and are not condemned and how you are to show mercy instead of condemnation.  Besides, Jesus says, one greater than the temple is here now, the Son of Man.

Jesus proceeded to the synagogue where the Pharisees malevolently asked Jesus if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath.  Jesus says it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, saying how they would rescue an animal on the Sabbath if it needed to be.  Jesus healed the man but the Pharisees still plotted against him.

Jesus continues to heal, warning them not to tell who he was.  This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 42:1-4 where Isaiah calls Jesus a servant who will proclaim justice and bring victory to the nations.

Questions:

9a)  No because the law reads you are not to do any work on the Sabbath but you still must eat and technically the disciples were merely gathering in food for immediate consumption.  No where does the law read, “You must starve on the Sabbath because it’s work to chew your food.”  No!  It was not work to eat.

b)  Jesus uses the example of David and his men who had no food to eat and thus ate consecrated bread given to him by the priest.  Consecrated bread was bread reserved for the priests only to eat.  Yet the priests themselves are allowed to desecrate the day and are forgiven because the priests perform work on the Sabbath related to celebrating the Sabbath such as sacrifices, etc.  Jesus is suggesting here that the law is more important than survival.  Point of fact, the picking of grain on the Sabbath was forbidden by the Pharisees NOT by the law.

Secondly, Jesus basically says God is in their midst and he can do whatever he wants for he is Lord of the Sabbath.  He accuses the Pharisees of caring more about the law than people instead of being merciful when faced with sacrifice.

NOTE:  Jesus never violated God’s law of rest on the Sabbath.  Jesus violated man’s addition to the law.  At this time, the Pharisees had regulated practically everything on the Sabbath and had extensive lists of what a Jew could or couldn’t do.  Here, Jesus is pointing out the absurdity of some of these additions to God’s law.

c)  Jesus says it is more important to do good than to uphold laws for the Sabbath.  Taking care of sheep or people when they are in need is more important than what day of the week it is.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus does not care what others think of him or even of the danger to his own life.  He does good to the people, following God’s will and way for humankind.  Jesus is a servant whom God delights in and who will bring justice and hope to all peacefully.

It encourages me to serve more; to bring hope to others.  To follow God’s way despite what society thinks.  To go outside the norm and do what’s right in my heart.  To please God, not others.  To question rules and regulations if they are at the cost of sympathy for others.

Conclusions:  This shows the importance again of compassion on our fellow man versus following the laws of society to a T.  You can extend this idea to even following protocol or society norms and standards.  Young people would say doing what is “not cool”.  Bucking the trend.  Not following the crowd.  Pick your adage, it’s all the same idea.  Following our hearts is more important than what others may think of us.

I am surprised that BSF did not have us look up Deuteronomy 23:25 where the law does allow those who are traveling or otherwise hungry to pick grain to eat.  If you remember the story of Ruth, she gleaned the grain purposely left behind for widows and orphans and those otherwise unable to survive without the “leftovers.”  It was Jewish culture to provide for those hungry.

I found it fascinating how the disciples themselves were hungry.  How Jesus just didn’t perform a miracle when he needed one.  How following Jesus is never easy, even when you are walking beside him!

End Note:  Funny how the Pharisees seem to be stalking Jesus on the Sabbath!  Surely that is a violation of some law!

Note as we go along how we see the level of hostility towards Jesus and/or his disciples by the Pharisees and their supporters increase.

Note how Jesus himself went to synagogue.  He is showing us by example how important it is to attend public worship or church on Sundays.

The Pharisees are looking to trap Jesus with the withered hand man.  They know he will heal the man.  They have faith in Jesus’ compassion to do so.  Faith many of us might lack.  Ironic, right?

The Pharisees are so furious with Jesus (Luke 6:11) that they begin to plot to murder him.  Here is a man so unlike them, bucking the trends and threatening their way of life, that they are plotting to kill him (a sin itself in violation of God’s laws).  Yet, as we’ve seen, the laws apparently don’t apply to them.  Sound familiar in today’s land?

The Isaiah passage speaks to Jesus’ gentleness and his healings speak to Jesus’ overwhelming compassion on those of faith.  Imagine a huge crowd, all around Jesus, and all needing help.  Jesus is never overwhelmed or resentful or angry.  He is compassionate–something we all need to be in the face of need.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 12, Day 3: Matthew 11:20-30

Summary of passage:  Jesus began to denounce the cities who witnesses his miracles and still did not believe or repent:  Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.  Jesus praises God for revealing himself to the little children instead of the wise.  No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son.  Jesus invites all to come to him the weary and the burdened and find rest in him.  Jesus’ yoke is easy to bear and his burden is light.

Questions:

6a)  He condemns the cities in Galilee (Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum) because they did not believe after he performs miracles and Jesus says if he had performed the same feats in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented (verse 21) and it will be more bearable for them on the day of judgment (verse 22).  The city of Capernaum will go to Hell and if Jesus had performed the miracles in Sodom, Sodom would still be standing today (verse23) but it will be more bearable for Sodom than Capernaum on the day of judgment (verse 24).

b)  The ancient cities did not understand Jesus’ role.  They only knew if they sinned, God would judge them and enact punishment for their sins.  They had no hope of ever being truly righteous before God.

The people of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were told a Savior would be sent to save them from their sins and this Savior would be God’s son and he would fulfill the prophecies as to his identity (be born of a virgin, in Bethlehem, heal the blind and deaf, etc).

Personally, I’m not sure even if the people in Jesus’ time understood his role for the disciples themselves were confused at times.  I don’t think they got it until after Jesus’ death.  There was so much confusion about what the Savior would be and do that it would be hard to know back then.

c)  We know the significance of Jesus’ death and what it means:  that we are now sinless before God and get to dwell with Him in heaven forever.  The people of Jesus’ time did not truly understand this.  We can see God’s perfect plan from OT times through to modern times.  We have 2000 years after Jesus’ death to understand its significance.  We have the advantage of scholars from throughout time to explain it to us.

It seems to me Jesus had high expectations of people in his time.  Yet, you would think witnesses all the miracles Jesus performed would be more than adequate.  Yet, they were a superstitious people.  It’s hard to put ourselves in their shoes when the world has altered so much in 2000 years.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God has chosen us to reveal Himself to out of His grace and pleasure alone and not because we ever did anything deserving of it.  We are the recipient of God’s favor:  He chose us to reveal Himself and His Son to.  For this, we should be ever worshipful and grateful and humble before God.

8a)  All who are weary and burdened

b)  He will give them rest

c)  “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me”

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This is one of my favorite Bible verses for often I am weary and feel burdened in this world with so many obligations and responsibilities.  But I know in Him there is rest.  And if I just learn more about Him my yoke will be easier to bear in this world and my burdens light.  They encourage me to press on through it all and to keep going to BSF and church and to keep striving to learn more about Him so that I can receive the promised rest.

With Jesus, your yoke and burdens are light.  Without him, they will be heavy.  So which is yours?

Conclusions:  It’s interesting to see the high expectations Jesus had for his people and how let down and hurt Jesus was when they STILL rejected him.  This tells me that Jesus expects a lot from me and I need to work even harder to meet and even exceed those expectations.  Also, towards my kids.  I expect a lot from them and sometimes I wonder if it’s too much.  It’s good to see how Christians are expected to be at a level higher than others.  It motivates me to do better and be better.  Simply put:  Greater light, greater responsibility.

Everything (including God) is a gift from God and our lives will be easier the more we imbibe this truth in our lives.  And we do that through learning about Him.

End Notes:  We are given clues here in this passage to the End Times.  Saying it will be “more tolerable” seems to imply there will be varying degrees of judgment meted out, depending on God’s expectations for believers and non-believers.

We see the love here between the Father and the Son and learn that no one knows each other better.  And Jesus extends this invitation to us:  to know him better so he can walk by our sides all the days of our lives.

Because Jesus was so frustrated that people “weren’t getting it”, we will start to see him rely more and more on parables instead of miracles as he continues his teachings.

Amazing pictures of the remains of Korazin and Bethsaida as well as historical background information here:

http://www.welcometohosanna.com/LIFE_OF_JESUS/027_Ministry7KorazinBethsaida.htm

Fun Fact taken from this site:  Bethsaida is mentioned in the Gospels more often than any other town except Jerusalem and Capernaum.

Map of Korazin (or Chorazin) and Bethsaida, both very close to the Sea of Galilee:

http://www.keyway.ca/htm2003/20030612.htm

Map of Tyre and Sidon, both in Phoenicia and very wealthy port cities, as well as Korazin and Bethsaida:

http://classic.scriptures.lds.org/en/biblemaps/11

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 12, Day 2: Matthew 11:1-19

Summary of passage:  After instructing his disciples, Jesus preached throughout the towns of Galilee.  John the Baptist sent his disciples from prison to ask Jesus if he is the one they are expecting.  Jesus said he has come to heal and preach the good news.

Jesus said of John the Baptist that he is the one who is the messenger sent ahead of him.  No one born of woman is greater than he; yet if you accept Jesus, even the least in the kingdom of heaven are greater than John.  He is the Elijah who was to come.

The people are like children, judging wrongly.  Wisdom will prove right by actions.

Questions:

3a)  John was probably expecting a political messiah, one who came to overthrow the Romans and establish a literal kingdom on earth.  Instead, Jesus came to establish a kingdom of peace on earth.  I also think after languishing in prison for a while your mind goes.  John was probably wondering if Jesus was going to free him or not and wanted to make sure Jesus hadn’t forgotten him.  Also, his mind could not be as clear as before from lack of food, torture, staring at nothing but walls, etc.

b)  Jesus listed all he has done on earth:  the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed are those who do not fall away because of him.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I have tons of questions about where my path lies and I always pray, “God, lead me down your path and make me choose your way”.  He always answers.  For instance, in teaching.  I believe I’m meant to teach my own kids for the rest of their teaching years and not others.  He has shown me that by giving me a chance to teach others’ kids.

4)  Isaiah 29:18-19:  The deaf will hear the blind will see.  The humble will rejoice in the Lord.

Isaiah 35:5-6:  The blind will see and the deaf will hear.  The lame will leap like deer and the mute will shout for joy.  Water will gush in the wilderness and streams will appear in the desert.

Isaiah 61:1-3:  The Spirit of the Lord is upon Jesus and he has been anointed to preach the good news to the poor.  He binds up the brokenhearted and he releases prisoners from the darkness (hell if they believe in him).  He proclaims the Lord’s favor and comforts those who mourn and grieve.  People will have a crown of beauty, gladness, praise, and oaks of righteousness.

NOTE:  Jesus quoted this passage himself in Luke 4:18-19 about himself when he read this passage in the synagogue when he was ready to announce himself as the messiah.

5)  Jesus meant just what he said:  John was as great as any man who had ever lived since he was the one chosen to testify to the world about Jesus and be the forerunner; BUT even the lowest-ranking  person in the kingdom of heaven was greater than John for now they had Jesus to save them from their sins.

Also, John will not get to enjoy the benefits of living under the New Covenant for we will see in Matthew 14 John the Baptist’s death.  Thus, since John died before Jesus, he is the greatest under the Old Covenant but least under the New Covenant.  (See 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:6-13 for the benefits of the New Covenant).

Conclusions:  I thought question 5 was self-explanatory and didn’t need any passages to back it up.  Jesus was speaking plainly here.  I think BSF is looking for the Old versus New Covenant differential that Jesus is explaining here.

I like how even John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and chosen one by God to testify about Jesus, had questions about Jesus.  It shows we are all human and there is nothing wrong with questioning the happenings in our lives as long as we never question who Jesus is.

End Notes:  Some scholars say John sent his disciples to Jesus for the disciples’ sake of clarification.  Others say some Jews thought there were two people coming:  a messiah and a prophet.  It’s difficult to say John’s motivations in asking Jesus if he was the one or not.

Jesus reminded them his kingdom is about perseverance in the small things, in day-to-day living.  Still true today.

Then Jesus bears witness for John.  Cool, huh?

BSF did not ask about the rest of the passage because there are different interpretations to verse 12.  However, a good question could have come from verses 16-19 because Jesus is criticizing his generation for lack of faith.  We could do the same for our generation and our children’s.

Fun Fact:  “He who has ears, let him hear” is a common saying by Jesus when he says something important.  This is the first time it is quoted in Matthew.