What a wrong idea the Pharisees held about keeping the Sabbath holy! They were hoping to catch Jesus healing someone on the Sabbath so they could bring charges against Him for breaking the fourth commandment. Their spiritual blindness is almost beyond our comprehension. No wonder that Mark wrote about Jesus' reaction, "He looked around at them angrily, because he was deeply disturbed by their hard hearts" (Mark 3:5). Because they classified healing as doing work, they actually thought God would be displeased if Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath day! They didn't know very much about God, did they?
Jesus exposed their hypocrisy by asking them what they would do if one of their sheep fell into a well on the Sabbath. Certainly they would work to pull it out, even on the Sabbath day. Jesus stated that a person is much more valuable than a sheep, and thus He was only doing for a man what they would do for their sheep. As Jesus so accurately pointed out, the Pharisees were actually claiming that it was wrong for Him to do good on the Sabbath!
Amazingly, even after Jesus exposed the error of their thinking and then instantly healed the man before their eyes, their reaction was not one of repentance. Rather, they called a meeting to discuss plans to kill the One God had sent to be their Savior.
Even though Jesus knew their plans, He was not afraid, but kept right on healing "all the sick among them" (Matthew 12:15). He knew He wouldn't die until His Father decreed it was time. Knowing the truth and trusting in God will make us courageous, too.
Q. Jesus said that a person is much more valuable than a sheep. Can you think of any modern examples of people placing more value on animals than people?
A. When it is a federal crime to kill a whale or some endangered species but it is lawful to kill unborn babies, it reveals how mixed up people's minds have become.
Q. Our reading today ends with Matthew quoting one of Isaiah's prophecies that was fulfilled by Jesus. How can we be sure that Isaiah was speaking of Jesus and not someone else?
A. Because the entire prophecy fits Jesus perfectly. Jesus was God's chosen servant. What God said through Isaiah about His servant being His beloved and that He was very pleased with Him also fits Jesus perfectly. The Father said of Jesus at His baptism, "This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him" (Matthew 3:17). Also, just like the person Isaiah wrote of, we know that Jesus had God's Spirit upon Him, because the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove at His baptism. Finally, we know that Isaiah's prophecy which Matthew quoted could only apply to Jesus, because it could only be said that in "his name will be the hope of all the world" (Matthew 12:21). No other person of history could make a similar claim.
Part of what God said through Isaiah is yet to be fulfilled, but it will be fulfilled one day when Jesus rules the entire world. Then He will bring "full justice with his final victory." Until that day, the world will be full of injustices.
Application: Praise God that He is not mixed up in His thinking as are the majority of people. Praise God that He has opened our eyes to see things His way, which is the only right way.
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