Good Morning Bible birds!
Today’s readings are Matthew 11-12
We begin today’s readings with what may be a confusing situation, but is going to end in our first episode today of “Why Did He Do That?”
WHY DID HE DO THAT? Part 1
You recall in Matthew 3 that Messiah was baptized by John the Baptist. But then, at the very beginning of chapter 11 we see that John is in prison and, upon hearing bout the deeds of Messiah, he sends word to ask him “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Messiah sent back word “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”
Now, at first we wonder, why is John asking if He is the Messiah if he appears to already know that in chapter 3? Oh, also remember that John is his cousin as well so he likely knew the story surrounding Messiah’s birth.
After John had baptized Messiah and announced Him as the Messiah, he was put into prison and it appears he is discouraged at this point and seeking some assurance. Lest we judge him, remember: How often, when things don’t go our way, do we look to the Father and ask Him to remind us of His love?
But there is more to this conversation than we realize at the onset.
Notice that John didn’t ask if He was the Messiah, he asked “Are you the one who is to come?” This was a way of asking, covertly, if He was the Messiah because Messiah was not yet ready to reveal the full extent of His identity to the world at this point (He still had much to do) and apparently John was sensitive to that.
John was using a code that his followers would well understand if they were even remotely acquainted with his preaching. The Messiah clearly recognizes the covert speech and answers in kind. His answer seems pretty straight forward but check this out, I’m going to put the verses after each part where Messiah is directly referring to a prophecy about Himself.
- The blind see again, Isaiah 29:18. 35:5
- The lame walk, Isaiah 35:6, 61:1
- Lepers are cleansed , Isaiah 61:1
- The deaf hear, Isaiah 29:18, 35:5
- The dead are raised up Isaiah 11:1-2
- The poor have good news preached to them, Isaiah 61:1-2
These are all prophecies about the Messiah and so, rather than saying outright that He is just that, He sends this message to John, knowing that all of these things tell Him exactly who He is and there is no need to look for any other.
And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11:4-6
In Matthew 11:6 Messiah says:
And blessed is one who is not offended by me.
Now my first thoughts on this went to how easily offended people are today and how incredibly offended I’ve seen people become when you quote the words of our Messiah. Sidenote: I really appreciate y’all not being like that!
But it still sounded a bit out of place to me in the context so I went and looked up the original word for offended. In the Greek text it is skandalizó and that word means to cause to stumble or to give offense.
Imagine, if you were waiting on the Messiah and you were really looking forward to one particular thing that you just knew He was going to do. At this point, the common thought is that Messiah was going to come back and immediately defeat all of the enemies of Israel, then establish an eternal throne and provide a sort of Biblical Utopia for His chosen people. A big part of that, though, is the whole defeating enemies thing. Israel had a lot of hopes hanging on that.
Keep in mind Israel had been trampled on for quite some time. They’d been enslaved, they’d been treated as second class citizens (on a good day), and they had even had great atrocities committed against them during this so called “silent period”which we know about from both the apocrypha and other historical records.
So they had a lot of hope riding on finally getting to see their enemies defeated, and here is Messiah, coming back and healing people, showing compassion to everyone, etc. It was a bit of a letdown for many who were waiting on the action to begin. And so, because of their own expectations of exactly how Messiah would carry out all of this, many decided that He simply could not be the actual Messiah. This, in some cases, could easily lead them to not only deny Messiah but to stumble in their faith as a result of Him not living up to the expectations they had been trained (by men) to look for.
Messiah is not and has not ever been bound by the box we choose to put Him in.
“And blessed is one who is not offended by me.”
Keep the faith, keep your eyes open. Do not be offended when Messiah does things differently than your expectations. I think this is what His message was here. Please test it for yourself.
BUT … How much is what I think worth? Absolutely nothing. Search Scripture, look for the answer yourself. Come up with your own answer and pray over that. The privilege of being 100% right all of the time belongs solely to the Father and you should never take my word or anyone else’s for anything. Instead, when studying the Word, go straight to the author.
Matthew 11:11-24 is one of those passages that needs a little digesting to understand.
1Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Matthew 11:11-19
Let us unpack this a bit because a lot of references are being made here and we need to make sure we connect the dots. First of all, John is definitely being praised for His heart and faithfulness to YHWH, but he is also being used as a comparison to help folks realize the amazing kingdom that is to come. John came ahead of Messiah to announce that He was coming. With the coming of Messiah, the Kingdom of Heaven actually came and dwelt among us! (See Luke 17:20-21). Messiah is clearly part of that Kingdom of Heaven and the first stage of it coming TO us. Matthew 13:31-32 gives us a further understanding of this so we need to read ahead a bit real quick.
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matt 13:31-32
Like that mustard seed, the Kingdom of Heaven appeared in the form of one man, the greatest who will ever walk this land, but that was just the beginning. The reference to John as being Elijah is likely referring to Malachi 4:5 which promises that a prophet like Elijah will come preceding the coming of the Lord. If they will accept Yeshua as the Lord, then John has served as their Elijah. There is another reference to John being like Elijah in Matthew 17:11-13.
Why did He do that? Part 2
Matthew 12:1-8 – Messiah was very open about his view of the synthetic commandments (oral or manmade law) which men had added to the faith and were treating as on par with the commandments of YHWH. Not only were these commandments used to condemn other’s but they were used to elevate themselves, which is generally what folks are doing when they condemn others. I tell my kids that lowering others is the cheap way to elevate yourself.
Messiah, rather than try to accommodate these additional commandments, took every opportunity to break as many of them as possible directly in front of the Pharisees.
Today we see that they have moved into the second part of the Messianic investigation because we see them beginning to ask Messiah questions, interrogate Him. This means that the initial council who were charged with following Him around and observing silently has now been either replaced or joined by the second delegation, likely even larger due to the gravity of a messianic investigation reaching the second level.
Y’all, this delegation means that they confirmed that He was doing things that only the Messiah could do. They had been waiting on this Messiah for generations upon generations – and now He was here and things were hopping!
We’ve spoken before about fence laws and how they abound in these manmade laws. Many of them may have been initially created to help honor the Father by putting protections around commandments in order to keep folks from even coming close to breaking them. The example I always give is that IF there were a law against going swimming on the Sabbath, fence laws might be created that would say you can’t drink water on the sabbath because you might think of the pool and be tempted to go for a swim or you might get a drop on your skin and that could possibly be considered swimming, etc.
With that in mind, we need to talk about the Sabbath fence laws. Oh mercy me, were there ever Sabbath fence laws! One author estimates that to the fourth commandment alone, the Pharisees added as many as 1500 fence laws!
Among these laws were no reaping, threshing, winnowing, or storing. Okay, that sounds kinda reasonable but it goes further. Walking in a field on the Sabbath was considered to be breaking all four of these manmade laws!
- By stepping on the wheat, you could cause kernel to break off from the stalk, which was considered reaping.
- Stepping on top of that wheat, then, with your foot, could possibly separate wheat from chaff, which is considered threshing.
- Walking over it, then, might cause your robes to move it around a bit or even blow away, and that is winnowing.
So what does Messiah do?
Now, remember that a whole delegation of Pharisees are following Him around at this point and no doubt a crowd beyond that has grown as well. These people around them knew full well the rules that the Pharisees enforced just as if you were to live under a strict regime, you’d learn the rules pretty fast to stay out of trouble and off the radar.
Rather than keep it on the down-low, play it cool, and just go to the Synagogue for Shabbat, Messiah decided to lead his disciples, walking, right through a wheat field. What’s more, just in case that wasn’t enough, they were hungry and so they began to pick off kernels of wheat as they walked and eat it.
Y’ALL. They have all these manmade laws, so people are avoiding fields at all costs on Shabbat, and what does Messiah do? Rather than walk around, He leads them right smack dab THROUGH a grain field AND has them all plucking off grain!
He just broke a ton of fence laws, right there in front of what is surely the most elite of the Pharisees!
HUGE IMPACTFUL SIDENOTE: SO many Believers cite this part of Scripture to say that Messiah did not keep Sabbath because the Pharisees used this to accuse Him of such! Please do not do this. ?
#1 By doing this, a person is saying Messiah sinned but also that person is siding with the Pharisees, by doing the same thing they did of holding up their laws as more important than YHWH’s. Of course, most people don’t realize this is the case because, in their lack of Scriptural knowledge, they assume the Pharisees are citing YHWH’s laws rather than their own when they state their charges against Messiah.
Back to our story, already in progress… At this point the Pharisees confront Messiah (remember this is the second phase so they can question Him) and as the teacher of these men hold Him responsible for their behavior. Messiah gives a perfect example of Sabbath being a Holy day of mercy for those who observe it. He gives the example of David and his men eating the bread in the temple that had been set aside for the priests as an act of mercy befitting Sabbath. David and His men were hungry and the priests took pity on them. Samuel 21:6. He further expounds upon this by offering the example of priests working on Sabbath. Their work is required and for the Father and as a result they are not considered as having any guilt against them for this. Messiah, certainly elevated above even the priests, then, has the power to have compassion and direct His men who are working for the kingdom to do likewise on the Sabbath. He still takes the time to show them the error of those manmade laws.
Matthew 12:9-14 : From there, He goes to the Synagogue. Keep in mind this is the Sabbath and what we think of as churches were, in actuality, synagogues and meetings in homes. So Messiah enters the Synagogue on the Sabbath, and he is challenged with a question of whether or not it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. His example, again, shows great compassion and serves as a reminder that, no matter how righteous we are, if we do not have love and compassion, we are not following the Father.
Again, many use these examples to say that Messiah broke the Sabbath commandment and therefore did away with Sabbath.
BUT Messiah never sinned so we need to stop telling people that He broke commandments and re-orient our minds to realize that these were manmade laws that He was breaking. To say that Messiah broke a single one of YHWH’s commandments is to blaspheme Him and, again, it’s this very misrepresentation of Him by Believers that causes our Jewish brethren (who do not study the Gospels but know the foundational Scriptures) to doubt He is the true Messiah.
Remember when we studied Leviticus and I mentioned that it was one of the most neglected books in the Bible? Ignoring that book is what allows people to believe the Pharisees over Messiah. When we don’t know what YHWH commanded, we believe what folks tell us He commanded, even it isn’t true.
You won’t recognize a counterfeit if you don’t know the original.
Getting Believers to think Leviticus, or any part of Scripture for that matter, is irrelevant to us today has been a very successful move by the adversary. This was a direct, calculated, and focused attack on the body of believers that has led us further from the Word of YHWH through centuries of maneuvering. We are countering that move each time we open the word of our Father – and trust in what He says.
Matthew 12:8 tells us that “Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath”. It is telling that this statement appears alongside Messiah upholding and keeping the Sabbath Holy just as instructed.
Random unrelated note as we continue to read: Matthew 12:18-21 is quoting Isaiah 42:1-4
Oh goodness, y’all.
We have a THIRD Episode of “WHY DID HE DO THAT?” Today!
In Matthew 12:22 we see Messiah casting a demon out of a mute man. This is another Messianic Miracle according to the laws made up by the Pharisees.
See the Pharisees had come up with this crazy way of casting out demons. First, they asked the demon what its name was and then they cast it out of the person by using it’s name. Of course none of this is Biblical, it was all made up by them. But the thing is, if someone was unable to speak, according to them, they would not be able to ascertain the name of the demon so there wasn’t a way to cast it out. The only one, according to their passed down traditions, who could do this would be the Messiah.
BAM! Mute man, demon gone. Messiah knew exactly what He was doing, too. And Boy howdy did the chorus IMMEDIATELY start up when the people suggested that He might be the Messiah. The Pharisees countered by accusing Him of being sent from Satan and saying that is where His power came from. Matthew 12:24
Aww nah, you didn’t just say that!
Messiah, as always, answers beautifully. Why would Satan cast out Satan? (Matthew 12:26) He could just use that demon where he is. But then He issues a warning that there is an unforgivable sin, eternally so, and that is anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:32, Mark 3:28-29). This is a rabbit trail I’ll leave you to take but I do suggest you take it. Look to the Bible first, then at multiple sources (if you choose to go outside of the Word), pray over it, and consider that Messiah only speaks truth. You might also want to look into “high handed” sin at the same time.
Matthew 12:33-37 Make sure you read about a tree being known by its fruit. We can say we believe and call Him “Lord” all day long but the truth that we will be judged by is in our fruit.
Matthew 12:38-41 We come back to the sign of Jonah today. Remember we talked about this in my Jonah notes, how the commonly taught timeline of when Messiah was buried and rose actually proves He couldn’t be the Messiah – when in reality the true timeline proves that He was. This is a great deception and we really need to know this. Messiah offered up this timeline as proof that He was who He said He was and the errant version of this timeline is another reason some naysayers don’t believe in Him- because of a common misrepresentation by His followers. Ugh. This hurts my heart.
Something to think on: Many believers today also have their own set of laws, outside of the Bible, which they sometimes give more weight to than YHWH’s commandments. See if you can think of some. This will be a real brain stretcher as most of us have lived with these all of our lives so they just seem normal and yet, there are some that contradict YHWH’s Word and are still exalted above it while His actual law is ignored. These sometimes vary by denomination but they are there just the same. Ask the Father to show you anything else that stands between you and walking in obedience.
I’m sorry for the length of these notes (but my friend, Nichole, says I need to quit apologizing for the length so I’m sorry for apologizing ). I’m hoping they get shorter but Messiah is walking around performing miracles and breaking all barriers that seek to confine Him so it’s pretty riveting stuff!
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
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