Sunday, November 28, 2021

by Pastor Michael Spaulding

Pastor Michael Spaulding on Jesus and the Pharisees
part 1

I heard an interesting story this week that really illustrates where I want to go with this teaching today. The story involved a Navy battleship that had been out doing maneuvers at sea and was returning to its home port. On its way to the port   Admiral in charge of the ship received a message that said there is a light in the distance. The admiral ordered his crew to signal that vessel and tell it to change course 10 degrees to the west. And so the signal went out. “Change your course 10 degrees to the west.” Moments later a signal came back from that light. “Change your course 10 degrees to the east.”

The Admiral instructed his crew to send out another message. “Change your course 10 degrees to the west. I am an Admiral.”
Moments later the signal came back. “Change your course 10 degrees to the east. I am a Seaman Third Class.” This infuriated the Admiral. He ordered his crew to respond back: “Change your course 10 degrees to the west. I am a battleship.”

Moments later the answer came back from the light in the distance: “Changed your course 10 degrees to the east. I am a lighthouse.” With a flushed face the Admiral ordered the crew to change their course 10 degrees to the east.

Here’s the point. We all need direction in life. We all need a beacon. We all need a light. That’s the picture that Jesus is painting for us here in the passage we will consider today.

The Pharisees were a lot like the Admiral because they insisted Jesus change course. They despised Him because His teaching carried authority and His popularity with the people was growing day by day.

The Pharisees insisted that Jesus change course to get in line with their traditions, all their rules and regulations, and they’re telling Jesus, you need to get in line with us because we’re the teachers of the law. We’re the holders, the upholders, the guardians of tradition.

Jesus responds that He is the light of the world. You need to join Me. That’s the picture that we see here. Let’s continue with our study. We’ll start in verse 13 of Matthew 12. You’ll recall that Jesus had gone into their synagogue.

Look at verse 9 that explains it. What’s the key word in verse 9? “Their” is the key word in verse 9. You know why? It’s the key word because it wasn’t His synagogue. The verse says Jesus went into their synagogue. God wasn’t there, that’s the point. They were just doing their own thing thnking they were serving God.

You see they were doing their thing Sabbath after Sabbath after Sabbath and they didn’t even know God was not in the house. Now that’s a sad commentary. That’s a sad thing.

So in their synagogue they baited Him. They tried to trick Him. They put forth this man with the withered hand knowing what? That Jesus would be attracted to him. He would be the first person that Jesus noticed when He came into the synagogue. Now, that tells me that the religious leaders at least had a cursory understanding of the compassion of Christ.

They knew they could bait Him because they knew He’s going to go right to this guy that has a withered hand. So they moved the man with the disability up front. They set a trap they were convinced would work. Sure enough, Jesus went right for the guy and then He blasted the Pharisees in verses 11 and 12. Jesus said listen, you’re trying to trick Me, because you think it’s breaking the law to heal on the Sabbath.

So He tells the man with the withered hand in verse 13, to stretch out his hand. He stretched it out and it was restored to normal like the other. Listen, where God guides God provides. It would’ve been really easy for that guy to say well I can’t stretch it out, because it’s withered.

Jesus commanded him to stretch out his hand and by faith the man stretched out his hand and what happened was a healing miracle.

His hand was restored. Can you imagine that? In the midst of all those people with the Pharisees right there on the front row of the crowd watching, this man stretches out his hand and snap, crackle, pop, bones are going back into place and he’s being restored right before their eyes.

By His actions Jesus proved to the Pharisees and those in the crowd that God never forbid good works on the Sabbath. Of course, that did not go over well.

Look at what happens right after this situation where the Pharisees are telling him it is wrong to heal on the Sabbath. Look what they do. Verse 14: “But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him as to how they might destroy him.”

Evidently it was wrong to heal on the Sabbath but not to plot murder. Now I don’t know about you but there’s something wrong with that picture. Excuse me, am I missing something here?

Verse 15
“But Jesus, aware of this withdrew from there. Many followed Him and He healed them all.” The Pharisees thought it was a big deal to heal one guy with a withered hand on the Sabbath. As He’s traveling, He’s healing everybody. It says everyone that came to Him.

Is it unlawful to heal on the Sabbath? No it is not. The Sabbath was never instituted and was never placed above man. Man was not made for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for man. And if you think about it folks, the Sabbath rest was instituted in the Garden of Eden. God rested on the seventh day. That was the Sabbath.

Adam was created on the sixth day. Right? So the Sabbath rest for Adam was not observing a bunch of rules and regulations but it was staring into the face of his Creator. It was enjoying Him. It was understanding the compassion and the love that God had for him. See, that’s the picture of God in Exodus. He instituted the Sabbath rest for His people because He wanted them to quiet their hearts before Him and to enjoy communion with Him.

He wanted them to learn to trust Him and to know Him through their obedience and worship. It is by those things that they were to gain strength, be refreshed, and encouraged.

Same is true today. We come to celebrate a risen Lord who desires to commune with us. We come together to be encouraged as we worship the Lord.

We’re a body of believers. The church is the body of Christ that meets together on a regular basis to be encouraged and edified and built up through their worship of the Lord.

Now that’s kind of gotten convoluted today because there are a lot of folks that think the church is something that it isn’t. Church is the body of Christ and we come together to worship and glorify Him. Now, there are other things He will call us to be and do. But that is our primary purpose to glorify God and enjoy him forever as the Westminster Catechism says.

Verse 16
So, when Jesus withdrew He healed everybody that He came in contact with and He warned them not to tell who he was. Now that’s an amazing statement. And we read that in other places of Scripture. Why did He do that?

He healed people publically. He ministered in and among large crowds of people. What does He mean don’t tell people? Everybody saw it. They didn’t need to tell anybody, the whole village was there.

Here’s his point, and this is such a contrast to what we see today. Listen, we got people running around on stage swinging jackets around, blowing on people’s faces, hitting people on the head and on the forehead knocking them down.

It’s just a show. They want everybody to know what they are allegedly doing. Buildings full of people cheering the “healer” on. People screaming and hollering, clapping and dancing, all to show their support for the man or woman on the stage doing signs and wonders. Jesus did the real thing and He said, “Don’t tell anybody.” What a contrast. I think it speaks very clearly to us today.

Now listen to verses 17-18.  It says “this was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: Behold My servant whom I have chosen; My beloved in whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My spirit upon Him.”

When did that happen physically so that we could see? It happened at His baptism. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus. “I will put My spirit upon Him and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles”

Matthew loves that. He loves adding that in there. In verse 19 he continues to quote Isaiah who said, “He will not quarrel nor cry out.” What is that in reference to? It is a reference to His crucifixion primarily, but also his ministry.

“Nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.” Jesus didn’t go through the streets. He didn’t send heralds in front of Him who shouted out: “Here comes the lamb that’s going to save the world. Make way for the lamb. Here comes the Messiah.” He didn’t do that did He? He didn’t do any of that.

We often paint pictures of Jesus that are not accurate. Jesus wasn’t some kind of radical activist like radical activists try to adopt and say well, Jesus did this and that. Listen, Jesus was radical in his teaching. He constantly corrected error. That was
what was radical. Jesus went against the stream of popular teaching. That’s what made him radical.

He corrected error every opportunity that He had. But that was not heard in the streets.

Verses 20-21

“A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out. Until he leads justice to victory and in His name the Gentiles will hope.”

That speaks of Jesus as compassionate.  It speaks of his unfailing love, His unending mercy. I have to tell you, this is the only way that any of us come to Jesus.  We are the battered reed, a smoldering wick. We’re all bent, broken and battered.

The Scripture says He’s not going to break that reed, in fact He’s going to restore that reed. He’s going to heal those bruises.

A smoldering flax is a wick. You’ve seen this. Everybody’s got candles in their house today. Well my job at the end of the day is to go around and blow all those candles out.

What happens when you blow that candle out, when you blow that flame out. It just smolders doesn’t it? And there for a while you can see those red embers in the wick’s center. That’s how we were when we came to Jesus. There was barely a flame. We understood exactly where we were at. And you know what? Jesus very gently blows that back into a flame.

Jesus gives us joy. He restores that fire. He gives us that passion to live for him. He doesn’t crush, He doesn’t break. He restores. That’s the picture that we see there. What a testimony and what a prophecy really of our Lord.

Verse 22-23
Then a demon possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the son of David, can He?”

What did the title son of David mean? It meant Messiah or savior. The question was, “Can this be the Messiah?” Let me set the context for you. This is important to see because of what’s said afterwards, so turn over to Mark Chapter 3 and I want you to see this so you can get the picture. Starting at verse 22, it says, “The scribes who came down for Jerusalem were saying, He is possessed by Beelzebul, and He casts out the demons by the rulers of the demons.”

Look at verse 20. It says Jesus came home and “the crowd gathered again to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal.” So the house was packed with people.

Mark 3:21
“When his own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying He has lost His senses.”
That’s His mom, His brothers, and His sisters. Here’s the picture folks. As he healed this man, the crowds were amazed and they began to proclaim, “Can this be the Messiah.” Jesus is in a house, and it’s packed with people.

The scribes came down from Jerusalem and joined the Pharisees who were already there. But there’s so many people there that they’re outside the house. They’re trying to see what’s going on and hear what’s going on and when they find out that he just healed this demon possessed man they start turning to the guys and the gals that are next to them and say, “Well you know He does that by the devil. You know He does that by the power of Beelzebul. That’s how he’s doing that.”

They’re not talking to Jesus, they’re talking about Jesus. They’re instigating murmuring in the crowd. They were trying to turn the crowd against Jesus.

So Jesus confronts them about this – Matthew 12:25-26.
“And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his Kingdom stand?”

Jesus approaches this situation, this criticism in a very systematic and as I see it, a very logical way. In verses 25-26, Jesus says, a house divided against itself cannot stand. How can Satan advance his kingdom if he’s fighting against himself? If there’s a civil war among the demons how is Satan doing this and winning? What is Jesus telling them? He’s telling them their statement, their argument is absurd. It defies logic, it’s illogical. It’s just plain silly.

Jesus really gives them no room to maneuver in verse 27. “If I by Beelzebul cast out demons by whom do your sons cast them out?”

What’s he doing there? He’s exposing their prejudice. He’s saying listen, you’ve got disciples that are running around doing the same thing. Who’s empowering them?

Perhaps Jesus was referring to people like the sons of Sceva. Acts 19 talks about them. They were Disciples of the Pharisees. They were Jewish exorcists.

Disciples of the Pharisees running around pretending to cast out demons. Do you remember what happened? They didn’t have any real power to cast out demons. They knew they didn’t but they knew Jesus did. So what did they do? Name dropped.

They said by the power of Jesus whom Paul preaches we command you to come out. We don’t know him personally but Paul does and so we’re going to borrow the name.

What happened when they tried this name dropping technique? The demon said: “Well Jesus I know. And Paul I know. Who are you?”

The scripture says the demon beat the tar out of them. Sent them out of the house naked and wounded. That news got around to everyone in Ephesus. The interesting thing about that passage in Acts 19 when the demon says Jesus I know and Paul I know, there’s two different words he’s using. Two different words there for “know.”

The King James version says Jesus I know and Paul I know. The Greek for “know” in relation to Jesus is “ginosko” and means to know Jesus from experience. The demon said I know Jesus because he lives where I live. In other words we know Jesus in the spiritual realm, we know who He is. We know Him by experience. The word for “know” when they use it in reference to Paul is “epistamai” and means we know or are acquainted with Paul.

There’s two different things there. Even though it says we know Jesus and we know Paul, they knew Jesus as the Son of God. It’s very interesting when you start looking at that.

So, Jesus says listen, the reason that you’re even saying this is because you’re prejudiced. You’re biased. He says they’re going to be your judges because they see your hypocrisy. That’s verse 27.

Stay tuned next week for Part Two of Matthew 12:13-50 – Jesus and the Pharisees.

Pastor Mike Spaulding
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Dr. Mike Spaulding
PO Box 3007
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