READ: Matthew 11-12

BACKGROUND: By Verse –
11:2 – John was about to be killed for preparing the way for Jesus. He shouldn’t have doubted, but he did. He just wanted to make sure that it wasn’t all for nothing. It wasn’t. 🙂
5 – The things Jesus lists here aren’t just his miracles. They are things specifically tied to Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah.
14 – Malachi 4:5 prophesied a reappearance of Elijah before the day of the Lord. John the Baptist had denied being Elijah when people asked (John 1:21), but these are different contexts. John wasn’t literally Elijah reincarnate – which is why he answered the specific question he was asked in the manner he did. But he was they Elijah type – the man in the mold of Elijah – that God told Malachi would come.
16-19 – People rejected both John and Jesus. John for living the strictest of rules. Jesus for freely associating with all kinds of people. In the end, though, both were proven righteous by their actions.
25 – “These things” are the particulars of Jesus mission. His humble followers got it (though not entirely). The proud Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t.
29 – When we hear “yoke” we think of the heavy wooden apparatus that binds oxen together as they plow (at least those of us from Iowa who know our agricultural history do). 🙂 This is a good image for understanding what the yoke is all about. Here, though, it means more. The “yoke” of a rabbi – a teacher in ancient Israel – was the collection of his teachings.
12:2 – It wasn’t actually unlawful to do that on the Sabbath. It was just against God’s command to “work” on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day for rest. The Pharisees – in their intense legalism – drew up an impossible number of rules defining what “work” was. This was on their list, not God’s.
3-8 – 1 Samuel 21:1-6
10 – Healing (or even giving medical care) was also prohibited on the Sabbath because it was considered work. They tried to trick Jesus into either ignoring the man who needed healing or violating the law (or their interpretation of it anyways).
16 – Why? Why wouldn’t he want them to tell EVERYBODY who he was? Because he knew they wanted to kill him, and it wasn’t time yet.
25 – Abraham Lincoln quoted this verse in a famous speech while running for president.
25-29 – Jesus basically makes the Pharisees’ logic look stupid.
31 – People get really worked up and confused by Jesus declaration that blasphemy against the Spirit is an unforgivable sin. They worry about what that means. In context, Jesus means attributing to the devil that acts and the providence of God.
40 – Jesus is foreshadowing his death and his resurrection after 3 days.

THINK:  I’m incredibly embarrassed to admit that as a freshman in college at Drake University (majoring in Broadcast News Journalism), I had a radio show on the campus radio station that was all about golf. I called it “Cari the Caddie.” This is embarrassing for a number of reasons. One, it was called “Cari the Caddie.” Two, I am the world’s worst golfer and I thought it would be a good idea to spend an hour every week giving golf advice. Three, I was dating a college golfer at the time and thought this would fool him into thinking I was way more interested in golf than I was.

If you tuned in to “Cari the Caddie,” you would have been impressed with my golf knowledge. I knew it all. However, if you asked me to join you in a round of golf, you would have quickly learned that knowing everything about golf by no means made me an expert golfer. It didn’t even make me a good golfer.

In this passage in Matthew, Jesus tells the Pharisees (in a number of different ways), that their head knowledge of him is so not the point. In fact, he points out that they are completing missing the mark by being rule followers without even trying to know God’s heart in the laws he gave.

In Matthew 12:6-8, Jesus says , “There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this Scripture meant—’I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’—you wouldn’t be nitpicking like this. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.” (The Message)

Jesus had to reiterate to the Pharisees that following Him is about having a heart like His heart. All the knowledge in the world is meaningless if we don’t know the heart of Jesus and can’t actually walk in His ways. When we consider how to obey Jesus, we can think about following the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. The letter of the law follows the literal interpretation of the words of the law; whereas following the spirit of the law means we stop to consider the intent of the one who gave us the law. We have to know Jesus to understand how to obey him.

All throughout chapter 11, Jesus points out that despite His ministry and the ministry of John the Baptist and the miracles that were performed; many refused to acknowledge Him. In chapter 12, He corrects the Pharisees for talking like they know Him, but refusing to walk in His ways. If we are truly pursuing a relationship with Jesus, we will know Him and be able to live the lives he calls us to.

I knew a lot about golf, but since I hadn’t taken the time to practice, I could hardly even play the game. All that golf research was meaningless because it was never put in to practice on the course. I don’t want to be guilty of the same in my relationship with Jesus. I want to know Him. I want to have his heart.

ASK: Do you know Jesus or do you just know all about Jesus? Does your heart for others look like Jesus’ heart? Is your head knowledge of God impacting your heart and hands?

By: Cari Widdel

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