The Servant King

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.” Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Matthew 12:1–50, ESV)

It's Not Lawful, Is It Lawful?

It seems that controversy has always surrounded Jesus. The disciples are denounced for picking grains and eating them on a Sabbath day. Jesus defends the disciples against this allegation by referring to 1 Samuel 21, where David ate the bread put aside for the priests. Not only that, but Jesus goes on to say that something greater than the temple is here. Jesus is the place where man and God meet, not the temple. Jesus is Lord of all things including the Sabbath. Jesus continues and enters the synagogue where a man with a withered hand was present. Jesus then turns the tables and asks these religious leaders whether or not it was lawful for him to be healed. He draws the comparison to the lengths that they would go to rescue one of their creatures and then confronts them with the value of man and proceeds to heal this man. The Pharisees are furious, and they began to conspire about how to destroy Jesus. Jesus is aware of what is taking place, and he left. As he leaves, many follow him, and he heals them all and gives them instructions not to tell anyone that is was Jesus who healed them which fulfilled the words of Isaiah because this was God's plan and not chance.

This Kingdom Is Not Divided

Jesus continues to show his authority over fallen angels and heals a man that was blind and mute. The people are amazed, and their curiosity grows about Jesus true identity. The Pharisees have the audacity to declare that Jesus did this by the power of the devil and Jesus reasons with them about the effectiveness of a kingdom that is divided against itself. Jesus further states that if God is doing this, then the kingdom of God has come upon them. The question about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit focuses more on the identity of Jesus than on the Spirit himself. In the context, some of the religious leaders have accused Jesus of casting out demons by demonic power. Jesus’ response is perfectly logical: why would someone possessed by Satan want to drive Satan out of someone else’s life? To ascribe the power of Jesus to Satan is to blaspheme the name of God. To remain opposed to the Spirit’s testimony to the identity of Jesus is a sin for which no forgiveness can be found because only Jesus rescues sinners. These words of blasphemy bring forth Jesus’ wrath, and he condemns them as evil snakes. Words will either condemn us or justify us because they reveal the heart and people will give an account for every careless word they speak.

Greater than Jonah And Solomon

The scribes and Pharisees demand a sign, but God will not be domesticated. Jesus does not owe them a sign and he has already delivered sign after sign. Jesus tells them that the only sign they will receive is the sign of Jonah. Jesus statements about Jonah indicate that the Book of Jonah is not legend or fable but historical fact, and he sees it as a prefiguring of his descent into death for the same period. Jesus’ purpose in alluding to Jonah is to show the different responses between the people of Nineveh, who heard Jonah preach and repented of their sins, and the people of Jesus’ generation, who have someone greater than Jonah and have not repented. Jesus makes the same point in the comparison to Solomon. The Queen of Sheba traveled a great distance to hear Solomon’s wisdom and yet the people show little interest in David's greater son. The reference to an unclean spirit returning seems to tie in with this emphasis on the repercussions of rejecting Jesus.


Jesus' mother and his brothers come for a visit, but his response is surprising. When Jesus is informed that his family is waiting, he identifies his disciples as his family. It may seem somewhat harsh for Jesus to respond with the question about family, but his emphasis is on the spiritual family of God in the world is characterized by doing the will of God. The King makes his subjects family, and they inherit royalty.