At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pick heads of wheat and eat them. But when the Pharisees saw this they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is against the law to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry— how he entered the house of God and ate the sacred bread, which was against the law for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are not guilty? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what this means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
Then Jesus left that place and entered their synagogue. A man was there who had a withered hand. And they asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” so that they could accuse him. He said to them, “Would not any one of you, if he had one sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath, take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and it was restored, as healthy as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted against him, as to how they could assassinate him.
Now when Jesus learned of this, he went away from there. Great crowds followed him, and he healed them all. But he sternly warned them not to make him known. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I take great delight. I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or extinguish a smoldering wick, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
Then they brought to him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. Jesus healed him so that he could speak and see. All the crowds were amazed and said, “Could this one be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard this they said, “He does not cast out demons except by the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons!” Now when Jesus realized what they were thinking, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, and no town or house divided against itself will stand. So 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? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you.
The Scriptures quoted are from the NET Bible® http://netbible.com copyright ©1996, 2019 used with permission from Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
COMMENT & QUESTIONS
As we progress through Matthew’s gospel, we notice that Jesus faces more and more opposition. This reading shows 3 consecutive times when Jesus was rejected. The first was the Sabbath Day. The second was healing a man on the sabbath. The third was a blind and mute man with a demon.
Jesus was doing kind things, but people hated Him for it. A common theme through this gospel is people being persecuted for righteousness sake (Matt 5:10-12). Has anyone ever persecuted you for doing the right thing?
Think of a time when your religious beliefs have been a contentious issue with friends or family members. Perhaps you have shown forgiveness or grace to someone while others have kept a grudge. These situations can cause tension.
This is the second time Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”. What do you think this verse means and why does Jesus keep quoting it?
The Jews were commanded to sacrifice to draw close to God (Leviticus Ch 1-7). However, they quickly began to prioritise sacrifices above the moral laws that God had commanded. God made it clear that the sacrifices by themselves were worthless (Psalm 50:7-12). In fact, sacrifices made without an accompanying goodness would be an offence to God (Psalms 50:16-19, Isaiah 1:13-17). Hosea 6:6 is not saying that sacrifices are unimportant, but that they must always be accompanied by godly behaviour. Jesus is quoting this multiple times because the religious leaders of His day need to hear this message.
Pray for those in the church who are being persecuted for righteousness sake.