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12 The Sabbath came, and Jesus walked through a field. His disciples, who were hungry, began to pick some of the grain and eat it.

The Sabbath is a day of rest when one creates nothing, breaks nothing, gives nothing, makes no contracts, cuts no flowers, and boils no water; it is a day set aside by the Lord to remember the creative work of God, to experience the peace of the Lord, and to rest in the provision of God.

When the Pharisees saw this, they reacted.

Pharisees: Look! Your disciples are breaking the law of the Sabbath!

Jesus: Haven’t you read what David did? When he and his friends were hungry, they went into God’s house and they ate the holy bread, even though neither David nor his friends, but only priests, were allowed that bread. Indeed, have you not read that on the Sabbath priests themselves do work in the temple, breaking the Sabbath law yet remaining blameless? Listen, One who is greater than the temple is here.

Do you not understand what the prophet Hosea recorded, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”[a]? If you understood that snippet of Scripture, you would not condemn these innocent men for ostensibly breaking the law of the Sabbath. For the Son of Man has not only the authority to heal and cast out demons, He also has authority over the Sabbath.

Jesus left the field and went to the synagogue, 10 and there He met a man with a shriveled hand. The Pharisees wanted to set up Jesus.

Pharisees: Well, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath too?

Jesus: 11 Look, imagine that one of you has a sheep that falls into a ditch on the Sabbath—what would you do?

Jesus—who can see the Pharisees are testing Him and basically have missed the point—is growing a little testy. The Pharisees say nothing.

(to the Pharisees) You would dive in and rescue your sheep. 12 Now what is more valuable, a person or a sheep? So what do you think—should I heal this man on the Sabbath? Isn’t it lawful to do good deeds on the Sabbath? 13 (to the man with the shriveled hand) Stretch out your hand.

As the man did so, his hand was completely healed, as good as new.

14 The Pharisees went and mapped out plans to destroy Jesus.

15 Jesus knew that the Pharisees were plotting to kill Him and left the area. Many people followed Him, and He healed them all, 16 always insisting that they tell no one about Him. 17 He did this in keeping with the prophecy Isaiah made so long ago:

18 This is My servant, whom I have well chosen;
    this is the One I love, the One in whom I delight.
I will place My Spirit upon Him;
    He will proclaim justice to all the world.
19 He will not fight or shout
    or talk loudly in the streets.
20 He will not crush a reed under His heel
    or blow out a smoldering candle
    until He has led justice and righteousness to final victory.
21 All the world will find its hope in His name.[b]

22 Some of the faithful brought Jesus a man who was possessed by a demon, who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him. The man could see and talk, and demons no longer crawled around in him.

People (astonished): 23 Could this be the Son of David?

Pharisees: 24 It is only through Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this Jesus can cast out demons.

25 Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking.

Jesus: That would be like a father splitting his own household down the middle or a king cutting his kingdom in half—the household and the kingdom would fall apart. 26 So, too, if Satan imbued people with the power to drive out demons, Satan’s kingdom would collapse. 27 And you should think about this too: you have friends who drive out demons. If I am working as a tool of Beelzebul, whom are your people working for? 28 When I come to you and drive out demons by the Spirit of your Father in heaven—for the glory of your Father in heaven—you should recognize and rejoice that the kingdom of God has come to you.

29 Imagine you wanted to break into the house of your neighbor, a strong brawny man, and steal his furniture. First, you’d have to tie up your neighbor, yes? Once he was bound and tied, you could take whatever you wanted. 30 Similarly—he who is not with Me is against Me, and he who is not doing the Father’s work of gathering up the flock may as well be scattering the flock.

31-32 It is one thing for you to speak ill of the Son of Man. People will be forgiven for every sin they commit and blasphemy they utter. But those who call the work of God the work of Satan utterly remove themselves from God, and those who blaspheme God’s Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come.

33 Good trees produce good fruits; bad trees produce bad fruits. You can always tell a tree by its fruits. 34 You children of snakes, you who are evil—how could you possibly say anything good? For the mouth simply shapes the heart’s impulses into words. 35 And so the good man (who is filled with goodness) speaks good words, while the evil man (who is filled with evil) speaks evil words. 36 I tell you this: on the day of judgment, people will be called to account for every careless word they have ever said. 37 The righteous will be acquitted by their own words, and you evildoers will be condemned by your own words.

Scribes and Pharisees: 38 Teacher, we want to see some miraculous sign from You.

Jesus: 39 You wicked and promiscuous generation—you are looking for signs, are you? The only sign you will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish, as the Son of Man will spend three days and three nights in the belly of the earth. 41 One day, the people of Nineveh will rise up in judgment and will condemn your present generation—for the Ninevites turned from sin to God when they heard Jonah preach, and now One far greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will also stand in judgment and condemn this generation—for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. And today One greater and wiser than Solomon is among you.

43 Let Me tell you what will happen to this wicked generation: When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it rattles around through deserts and other dry places looking for a place to rest—but it does not find anywhere to rest. 44 So the spirit says, “I will return to the house I left.” And it returns to find that house unoccupied, tidy, swept, and sparkling clean. 45 Well, then not only does one spirit set up shop in that sparkling house, but it brings seven even more wicked spirits along. And the poor man—the house—is worse off than he was before. This evil generation will suffer a similar fate.

46 While Jesus was speaking to the crowd, His mother and brothers came up and wanted to speak to Him.

Someone in the Crowd: 47 Your mother and brothers are waiting outside to speak to You.

Jesus: 48 Who is My mother? And who are My brothers? 49 (pointing to His disciples) These are My mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My mother and brother and sister.

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath(A)(B)

12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain(C) and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”(D)

He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?(E) He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.(F) Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath(G) and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.(H) If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a](I) you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man(J) is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus,(K) they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”(L)

11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?(M) 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!(N) Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.(O)

God’s Chosen Servant

15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill.(P) 16 He warned them not to tell others about him.(Q) 17 This was to fulfill(R) what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
    the one I love, in whom I delight;(S)
I will put my Spirit on him,(T)
    and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not quarrel or cry out;
    no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20 A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
21     In his name the nations will put their hope.”[b](U)

Jesus and Beelzebul(V)

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.(W) 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”(X)

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul,(Y) the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”(Z)

25 Jesus knew their thoughts(AA) and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan(AB) drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul,(AC) by whom do your people(AD) drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God(AE) has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.(AF) 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.(AG) 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age(AH) or in the age to come.(AI)

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.(AJ) 34 You brood of vipers,(AK) how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks(AL) what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”(AM)

The Sign of Jonah(AN)(AO)

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign(AP) from you.”(AQ)

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.(AR) 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish,(AS) so the Son of Man(AT) will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.(AU) 41 The men of Nineveh(AV) will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah,(AW) and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came(AX) from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.

43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.(AY) That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers(AZ)

46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother(BA) and brothers(BB) stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven(BC) is my brother and sister and mother.”


  1. Matthew 12:7 Hosea 6:6
  2. Matthew 12:21 Isaiah 42:1-4