Matthew 12* Jesus defends his disciples for plucking corn on the sabbathday. (1-8) Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on thesabbath. (9-13) The malice of the Pharisees. (14-21) Jesus healsa demoniac. (22-30) Blasphemy of the Pharisees. (31,32) Evilwords proceed from an evil heart. (33-37) The scribes andPharisees reproved for seeking a sign. (38-45) The disciples ofChrist are his nearest relations. (46-50)1-8 Being in the corn-fields, the disciples began to pluck theears of corn: the law of God allowed it, #De 23:25|. This wasslender provision for Christ and his disciples; but they werecontent with it. The Pharisees did not quarrel with them fortaking another man's corn, but for doing it on the sabbath day.Christ came to free his followers, not only from the corruptionsof the Pharisees, but from their unscriptural rules, andjustified what they did. The greatest shall not have their lustsindulged, but the meanest shall have their wants considered.Those labours are lawful on the sabbath day which are necessary,and sabbath rest is to froward, not to hinder sabbath worship.Needful provision for health and food is to be made; but whenservants are kept at home, and families become a scene of hurryand confusion on the Lord's day, to furnish a feast forvisitors, or for indulgence, the case is very different. Suchthings as these, and many others common among professors, are tobe blamed. The resting on the sabbath was ordained for man'sgood, #De 5:14|. No law must be understood so as to contradictits own end. And as Christ is the Lord of the sabbath, it is fitthe day and the work of it should be dedicated to him. 9-13 Christ shows that works of mercy are lawful and proper tobe done on the Lord's day. There are more ways of doing wellupon sabbath days, than by the duties of worship: attending thesick, relieving the poor, helping those who need speedy relief,teaching the young to care for their souls; these are doinggood: and these must be done from love and charity, withhumility and self-denial, and shall be accepted, #Ge 4:7|. This,like other cures which Christ wrought, had a spiritual meaning.By nature our hands are withered, and we are unable of ourselvesto do any thing that is good. Christ only, by the power of hisgrace, cures us; he heals the withered hand by putting life intothe dead soul, works in us both to will and to do: for, with thecommand, there is a promise of grace given by the word. 14-21 The Pharisees took counsel to find some accusation, thatJesus might be condemned to death. Aware of their design, as histime was not come, he retired from that place. Face does notmore exactly answer to face in water, than the character ofChrist drawn by the prophet, to his temper and conduct asdescribed by the evangelists. Let us with cheerful confidencecommit our souls to so kind and faithful a Friend. Far frombreaking, he will strengthen the bruised reed; far fromquenching the smoking flax, or wick nearly out, he will ratherblow it up into a flame. Let us lay aside contentious and angrydebates; let us receive one another as Christ receives us. Andwhile encouraged by the gracious kindness of our Lord, we shouldpray that his Spirit may rest upon us, and make us able to copyhis example. 22-30 A soul under Satan's power, and led captive by him, isblind in the things of God, and dumb at the throne of grace;sees nothing, and says nothing to the purpose. Satan blinds theeyes by unbelief, and seals up the lips from prayer. The morepeople magnified Christ, the more desirous the Pharisees were tovilify him. It was evident that if Satan aided Jesus in castingout devils, the kingdom of hell was divided against itself; howthen could it stand! And if they said that Jesus cast out devilsby the prince of the devils, they could not prove that theirchildren cast them out by any other power. There are two greatinterests in the world; and when unclean spirits are cast out bythe Holy Spirit, in the conversion of sinners to a life of faithand obedience, the kingdom of God is come unto us. All who donot aid or rejoice in such a change are against Christ. 31,32 Here is a gracious assurance of the pardon of all sinupon gospel terms. Christ herein has set an example to the sonsof men, to be ready to forgive words spoken against them. Buthumble and conscientious believers, at times are tempted tothink they have committed the unpardonable sin, while those whohave come the nearest to it, seldom have any fear about it. Wemay be sure that those who indeed repent and believe the gospel,have not committed this sin, or any other of the same kind; forrepentance and faith are the special gifts of God, which hewould not bestow on any man, if he were determined never topardon him; and those who fear they have committed this sin,give a good sign that they have not. The trembling, contritesinner, has the witness in himself that this is not his case. 33-37 Men's language discovers what country they are of,likewise what manner of spirit they are of. The heart is thefountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and acorrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams.Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will healthe waters, season the speech, and purify the corruptcommunication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart,and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions,dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out ofwhich the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, todishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch overourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christiancharacter. 38-45 Though Christ is always ready to hear and answer holydesires and prayers, yet those who ask amiss, ask and have not.Signs were granted to those who desired them to confirm theirfaith, as Abraham and Gideon; but denied to those who demandedthem to excuse their unbelief. The resurrection of Christ fromthe dead by his own power, called here the sign of the prophetJonah, was the great proof of Christ's being the Messiah. AsJonah was three days and three nights in the whale, and thencame out again alive, thus Christ would be so long in the grave,and then rise again. The Ninevites would shame the Jews for notrepenting; the queen of Sheba, for not believing in Christ. Andwe have no such cares to hinder us, we come not to Christ uponsuch uncertainties. This parable represents the case of theJewish church and nation. It is also applicable to all those whohear the word of God, and are in part reformed, but not trulyconverted. The unclean spirit leaves for a time, but when hereturns, he finds Christ is not there to shut him out; the heartis swept by outward reformation, but garnished by preparation tocomply with evil suggestions, and the man becomes a more decidedenemy of the truth. Every heart is the residence of uncleanspirits, except those which are temples of the Holy Ghost, byfaith in Christ. 46-50 Christ's preaching was plain, easy, and familiar, andsuited to his hearers. His mother and brethren stood without,desiring to speak with him, when they should have been standingwithin, desiring to hear him. Frequently, those who are nearestto the means of knowledge and grace are most negligent. We areapt to neglect that which we think we may have any day,forgetting that to-morrow is not ours. We often meet withhinderances in our work from friends about us, and are taken offby care for the things of this life, from the concerns of oursouls. Christ was so intent on his work, that no natural orother duty took him from it. Not that, under pretence ofreligion, we may be disrespectful to parents, or unkind torelations; but the lesser duty must stand by, while the greateris done. Let us cease from men, and cleave to Christ; let uslook upon every Christian, in whatever condition of life, as thebrother, sister, or mother of the Lord of glory; let us love,respect, and be kind to them, for his sake, and after hisexample.
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