Matthew 12

The Pharisees watch what Jesus does on the day of rest

1 On a Jewish day of rest, Jesus was walking through some fields where wheat was growing. His disciples were hungry. So they began to pick some of the grains of wheat. They began to eat them. 2 While the disciples were picking the grains, some Pharisees saw them. They said to Jesus, ‘Look at what your disciples are doing! It is against God's Law to do that on our day of rest.’

3 Jesus replied, ‘You have certainly read about what David did one day. He and the men who were with him were hungry. 4 David went into the temple. He ate the special bread that was there. He also gave some of it to his men to eat as well. But it is against God's Law for anyone except the priests to eat that special bread.

12:4See 1 Samuel 21.

5 Also, you certainly know what God's Law says about the priests. They work in the temple, even on the day of rest. They have not obeyed the Law about the day of rest. But God's Law tells us that they have not done anything that is wrong. 6 But I tell you this. There is someone here now who has greater authority even than the temple. 7 You should understand what the Bible teaches. God says there, “I want people to be kind to each other. I do not just want them to offer sacrifices to me.” If you had understood this, then you would not have said to me, “Your disciples are doing something wrong.” 8 The Son of Man has authority over the Law about the day of rest.’

9 Then Jesus left that place. He went into the Jewish meeting place. 10 A man was there. His hand was very small and weak, so he could not use it. Some Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘Is it right to make someone well again on our day of rest?’ They wanted to find a reason to say that Jesus was doing wrong things.

11 Jesus said to them, ‘Maybe one of you has a sheep that falls into a deep hole on our day of rest. What will you do? You will take hold of it and you will lift it out of the hole. 12 You know that a man is much more valuable than a sheep. So it is right for us to do good things on our day of rest.’

13 Then Jesus said to the man with the weak hand, ‘Lift up your hand.’ So the man lifted up his hand and it became well again. It was now as strong as his other hand. 14 Then the Pharisees went out from the meeting place. They began to talk to each other about how they could kill Jesus.

God chose Jesus to do an important job

15 Jesus knew that the Pharisees wanted to kill him. So he went away from that place. A large crowd of people followed him. He made all the sick people become well again. 16 He said to these people, ‘You must not tell anyone about me.’ 17 This happened so that what the prophet Isaiah had spoken long ago became true. Isaiah wrote what God said:

18 ‘Here is my servant.

I have chosen him to serve me.

I love him and he makes me very happy.

I will give him the strength of my Spirit.

He will tell all the nations that I will judge them fairly.

19 He will not argue with people. He will not shout at them.

People will not hear his loud voice in the streets.

20 He will not hurt weak people.

He will be kind to people who are not strong.

He will do this until there is justice everywhere.

21 All the nations will trust him to save them.’

Jesus talks about Satan

22 After that, some people brought a man to Jesus. The man had a bad spirit in him. Because of this, he was blind and he could not speak. Jesus caused the man to become well again. The man could speak again and he could see. 23 When Jesus did this, all the people were very surprised. They asked each other, ‘Maybe this man is the Son of David that God will send to us. Could that be true?’

24 The Pharisees also heard about what had happened. They said, ‘This man can send bad spirits out of people only because Beelzebul gives him authority. That is Satan, the one who rules all the bad spirits.’

12:24Beelzebul is another name for Satan.

25 Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking. So he said to them, ‘If armies in a country fight each other, then they will destroy their own country. If people in one city or in one family fight each other, then they will destroy their own city or family. 26 So Satan would not try to destroy himself. If Satan fights against himself, that would be the end of his own kingdom. 27 Some of your disciples can also send bad spirits out of people. You would not say that it is Satan's power that helps them. So your own disciples show that you are wrong about this. 28 I do send bad spirits out of people. I use the authority of God's Holy Spirit to do this. This shows that God has come to rule among you.

29 Nobody can go easily into the house of a strong man to rob him. To do that, he must first tie up the strong man. Then he can take away all that man's valuable things.

12:29Satan is like a strong person. But Jesus a stronger person. He fights Satan and beats him. Jesus sends bad spirits out of people and they go away. This shows that he is stronger than Satan. So it was not possible that Satan was working with Jesus.

30 If someone does not agree to help me, he is working against me. You should work with me to bring people to me for help. If you do not do that, you are really making people run away from me. 31 God is able to forgive all the wrong things that people do, and the bad things that they say against other people. But God will never forgive people who say bad things against the Holy Spirit. 32 God will forgive people who say bad things against me, the Son of Man. But God will never forgive people who say bad things against the Holy Spirit.’ He will not forgive them now or ever.

12:32The Pharisees had said that Satan worked with Jesus. The Holy Spirit gave his authority and power to Jesus. It was wrong to think that Satan was helping Jesus.

Jesus talks about a tree and its fruit

33 Then Jesus said, ‘To have good fruit you must have a good tree. If you have a bad tree, then you will get bad fruit from it. You can know all about a tree by the kind of fruit that it makes. 34 You are like the children of dangerous snakes. You cannot say good things when your thoughts are bad. When you speak, your words show what is in your mind. 35 It is like things that you bring out of a room where you keep them. The good man says good things because he keeps good thoughts in his mind. The bad man says bad things because he keeps bad thoughts in his mind. 36 I tell you this: One day, God will judge everybody. On that day, he will ask you about every useless word that you have spoken. 37 God will think about the words that you have spoken. Then he will decide whether to let you go free or to punish you.’

The Pharisees want to see Jesus do something powerful

38 Then some teachers of God's Law and some Pharisees said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we want to see you do something powerful. This will show us that God has really sent you.’

39 Jesus replied, ‘The people who are alive today are very bad. They do not obey God, but they want God to show them something powerful. But God will not do this for them. They will only see the same powerful thing that God did for his prophet Jonah. 40 Jonah stayed inside a big fish for three days and three nights. In the same way, the Son of Man will remain in the ground for three days and three nights. 41 When God judges everyone, the people who lived in Nineveh will be there. They will stand up and they will speak against you. They will show that the people who are alive today are bad. When Jonah spoke to the people in Nineveh long ago, they stopped doing bad things. But look! There is someone here now who is greater than Jonah was.

12:40We can read this story in Jonah 1:17. God sent Jonah to a city called Nineveh. Jonah said to the people in that city, ‘You must stop doing bad things. You must show God that you are sorry. And you must start to obey him.’

42 Also, the Queen of Sheba travelled a long way to meet King Solomon. She wanted to hear his wise words. When God judges everyone, she will stand up. She will speak against you who are alive today. She will show that you are bad people. She listened to King Solomon. But look! There is someone here now who is greater than Solomon was. But you are not listening to me.’

12:42We can read this story in 1 Kings 10:1-10.

43 Jesus then said, ‘When a bad spirit leaves a person, it travels through dry places. It looks for a new place to live. But maybe it does not find anywhere. 44 So it says to itself, “I will return to the place where I lived before.” Then it goes back to that person. It finds that the place is empty. Everything there is now good and clean. 45 So the bad spirit goes out and it brings back seven other spirits. They are even worse than itself. They all go into the person and they live there. Now the person's life is even worse than it was before. The same thing will happen to you bad people who are alive today.’

12:45A bad spirit can live in a person. Sometimes the Jewish leaders told a bad spirit to leave a person. It often came out, but later it went back to live inside the person again. Because the person did not have the Holy Spirit inside him, there was a place for bad spirits to live.

Jesus speaks about his family

46 While Jesus was still speaking to the crowd of people, his mother and his brothers arrived. They stood outside the house. They wanted to speak to Jesus. 47 Someone told him, ‘Look! Your mother and brothers are standing outside. They want to speak to you.’

48 Jesus replied, ‘I will tell you who my mother and my brothers really are.’ 49 Then he pointed to his disciples. He said, ‘Look! Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 My brothers and sisters and my mother are those people who do what my Father in heaven wants.’

12:50People who believe in Jesus become part of the family of God.