SUMMARY.--Jesus Accused of Sabbath Breaking.
The Son of Man Lord of the Sabbath.
Healing the Withered Hand.
The Pharisees Take Counsel to Destroy Jesus.
The Tenderness of Christ.
A Dumb and Blind Demoniac Healed.
Accused of Help from the Devil to Cast Out Demons.
A Divided Kingdom.
Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit.
Shall Give Account for Idle Words.
The Sign of Jonah.
The Queen of the South.
His Mother and Brethren.
Who Are My Mother and Brethren?
1. At that time. Compare
Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1.
About the time when grain begins to ripen in Judea, that is, not far
from the first of May.
Walked through the corn fields. Wheat or barley, for which the
general word, "corn," was used. When maize was discovered by the
Europeans in America they called it "Indian corn," because it was a
food grain like wheat, rye and barley. We now apply to it exclusively
the designation of "corn." The paths, the only roads, led and still
lead through the grain fields in Palestine.
Began to pluck. Permitted by Moses
2. But the Pharisees saw it. See note on
Some of the sect were in attendance on the watch for a ground of
Not lawful on the sabbath. They did not object to taking the
ears of corn, but to gathering, rubbing out the grains of wheat in the
hand, and eating them on the sabbath. To understand their position, it
must be noticed that after the Law had said that the Jews were "to do
no manner of work" on the Sabbath, the "Tradition of the Elders" had
laid down thirty-nine principal prohibitions, which were ascribed to
the authority of the Great Synagogue, and which were called
abhoth, "fathers," or chief rules. From these were deduced a
vast multitude of toldoth, "descendants," or derivative rules.
Now, "reaping" and "threshing" on the Sabbath day were forbidden by
abhoth; and by the toldoth it was asserted that plucking
corn-ears was a kind of reaping, and rubbing them a kind
of threshing. The vitality of these artificial notions among the
Jews is extraordinary. Abarbanel relates that when, in 1492, the Jews
were expelled from Spain, and were forbidden to enter the city of Fez
lest they should cause a famine, they lived on grass; yet even in this
state "religiously avoided the violation of their Sabbath by
plucking the grass with their hands." To avoid this they took the
much more laborious method of groveling on their knees, and cropping it
with their teeth. We give one more example of their Sabbath
requirements. "If on the Sabbath a Jew put out a lamp from fear of the
Gentiles, or robbers, or on account of an evil spirit, he was
guiltless; if to save oil, he was guilty."--Milman's Jews, Vol.
2, p. 480.
3. Have ye not read. The Lord answers them by citing the case of
David, who, under necessity, took, ate, and gave to his followers the
shew bread which it was lawful for priests only to eat. Necessity rose
higher than ceremonial. See
1 Sam. 21:1-6.
4. Entered into the house of God. The tabernacle at Nob
The temple had not been built.
The shew bread. Twelve loaves placed upon a table in the holy
place as a symbol of the communion of the twelve tribes with God, and a
type of the Bread of Life to be given to the whole world. They were
kept a week, renewed, and the old loaves eaten by the priests. If David
could take these under necessity, so could Christ's disciples pluck
corn under necessity.
5. The priests . . . profane the sabbath. The Sabbath was the
busiest day of the week for the priests in the temple service. In this
they rightly broke the ordinary Sabbath law, because the temple service
set aside the law. Compare
John 7:22, 23.
6. But I say unto you, that in this place is one greater than the
temple. The thought is: If priests in the service of the temple
can break the letter of the law and be blameless, how much more can the
disciples of him who is the Lord of the temple do so in his service and
by his authority?
7. But if ye had known what this meaneth. They ought to have known,
for they professed to be interpreters of the law.
I will have mercy, and not sacrifice. The argument is, that mercy
toward these hungering disciples was more acceptable to God than
sacrifices at the altar; though sacrifice was the crown of the Jewish
rites. The quotation is from
and is also quoted in
It shows that all our forms, rites and ceremonies are worthless before
God unless we have kind and merciful hearts.
8. For the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath day. Because the
Sabbath is made for humanity, the Lord of humanity is the Lord of the
Sabbath. Observe, is the Lord of the Sabbath. He does not, then,
abolish it, but has the right to make any change in it, in the interest
of mankind, that seems to him wise. Neither Moses, nor any other
mortal, ever claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. This is a declaration
9. He went into their synagogue. Evidently he, his disciples and
these Pharisees, were on the way to it when the conversation took
place. It was probably at Capernaum.
10. A man which had his hand withered. That is, dried up from a
deficient absorption of the nutriment.
says his "right hand." The disease here indicated results in a loss
both in size and in power of the arm; for it there is no remedy known
to man. Compare
Mark 3:1-6 and Luke 6:6-11.
And they asked him.Luke
says it was the scribes and Pharisees.
Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? In the opinion of the
Pharisees, to kindle or extinguish a fire on the Sabbath was a great
desecration of the day, nor was even sickness allowed to violate
rabbinical rules. It was forbidden to give an emetic on the Sabbath, to
set a broken bone, or put back a dislocated joint. Of course, they had
added all this to the law of Moses.
That they might accuse him. Not in the conversation merely, but
before the local judge, the officers of the synagogue, or the
11. And he said, What man . . . shall have one sheep? etc. Such
an act of mercy to a beast was allowed and usual then.
12. How much then is a man better than a sheep? If sheep can be
lifted out of its suffering on the Sabbath, why not much more a man?
Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath days. If the
Sabbath day would preclude one from doing good, then it would be an
13. Stretch forth thine hand. As the cure is wrought only by a
word, the Pharisees have no ground of accusation.
14. Then the Pharisees . . . held a council . . . destroy him.
Their real motive was hatred of the Lord, while their pretext was that
he had broken the Sabbath. While professing to be very religious, they
were really the servants of the evil one.
15. Jesus withdrew from thence. Left Capernaum for the time. He
avoided needless danger until his earthly ministry was accomplished,
and the bitter opposition of the Pharisees admonished him to
16. Charged not to make him known. Those healed. To noise about
his cures now would intensify the hate of his enemies.
17. That it might be fulfilled. Thus it was fulfilled.
Esaias the prophet.Isa. 42:1-4.
18. Behold my servant. Christ took the form of a servant.
I will put my spirit upon him. Compare
He shall shew justice to the Gentiles. Announce himself as judge
of the Gentiles. Compare
19. He shall not strive nor cry. He shall be modest, retiring,
and not a brazen, noisy declaimer.
20. A bruised reed shall he not break. The reed, a hollow
cylinder, if bruised has its strength destroyed. It thus becomes the
symbol of the bruised spirit. The tender Savior will not break, but
Smoking flax. The wick of the lamp that had ceased to burn
clearly. The violent would put it out and fling it away. The Lord does
not use such violence with those disciples who give forth some light,
even if it is imperfect.
Till he send forth judgment. Till he shall sit in power and
triumph on the throne of judgment.
21. In his name. In him as the Messiah.
Shall the Gentiles trust. He shall be the "Christ of the world,"
and not of the Jews alone. Compare
The prophets clearly and many times declare that the Messiah shall be,
not a Jewish, but a world's Savior. The Jews strangely overlooked
23. Is not this the Son of David? The promised Messiah King who
was to be the Son of David, according to the prophets
(Isa. 11:10; 2 Sam. 23:5).
24. The Pharisees hearing it. Compare
Mark says that some of these Pharisees were scribes who had come from
Jerusalem. The ecclesiastical authorities at Jerusalem were now keeping
their watch on Jesus.
He casteth not out devils but by Beelzebub. See note on
Beelzebub, the prince of devils, meant the same as Satan. The Pharisees
assert that the Lord's miraculous power is due to the aid of the
25. Knowing their thoughts. They had not made this charge to
Christ, but to the multitudes.
Every kingdom divided against itself. A general truth is stated.
Most states and kingdoms fall, not by the power of foreign enemies, but
by the weakness due to divisions.
26. If Satan casteth out Satan. If demons were cast out by the
aid of Satan, then Satan was fighting against his own servants. His
kingdom was divided against itself.
27. By whom do your sons cast them out? There were Jewish
exorcists who professed to cast out demons. Josephus tells of one named
Eleazar, whom he says did cast them out. Christ does not say whether
they did or not, but argues: "If I, by Satan, cast out demons, by whom
do your own exorcists, whom you assert have this power, cast them out"?
28. If I by the Spirit of God, etc. If it is the power of God
manifest in me, then it demonstrates that I am the expected Messiah
King, the Son of David, of whom the multitude spoke. See
29. How can . . . spoil his goods, etc.? No one can enter a
man's house and take his goods unless he has first conquered him. If I
am not the Messiah, stronger than Satan, how could I spoil him?
30. He that is not for me, etc. The two kingdoms of Satan and of
Christ are opposed. No neutrality is possible. He that is not for me is
31. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven.
Mark 3:28 and Luke 12:10.
Much discussion has arisen concerning the nature of sin against the
Holy Spirit, and nothing is plainer.
explains it. It was ascribing Christ's works to demoniac influence.
These works were wrought by the power of the Spirit.
32. Whoever speaketh against the Son of man. Personal injuries
will be forgiven on repentance. Christ prayed for his persecutors.
Every sin can be forgiven but that against the Holy Spirit.
Speak against the Holy Spirit. Perversely ascribe the work of
the Holy Spirit to Satan.
Neither in this world nor that to come. Judgment shall overtake
him both here and hereafter. The Jews divided the two worlds, or,
rather, ages of the world, by the coming of Christ. This would
then mean that there is forgiveness to such a sin under neither
dispensation. No passage in the Bible affirms more emphatically the
doctrine of eternal punishment. There is a sin that hath no
33. Either make the tree good, and the fruit good. The principle
is announced in
that the tree is known by its fruits. If his own life and works were
evil, then he might be evil and aided by Satan, but if good, then his
power was from God.
34, 35. Generation of vipers. Poisonous, evil and dangerous,
How can ye, etc.? Their hearts were thoroughly evil, hence they
could only speak and do evil, for "out of the good treasure of the
heart the mouth speaketh." On the other hand, the "good man out of the
good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things."
36. Every idle word. If we shall be called on to give account
for every idle, rash, inconsiderate word, how much more for such
blasphemy as the Pharisees had uttered? How careful, too, should we be
to see that our speech is pure!
37. By thy words shalt thou be justified, etc. Acquitted or
condemned in the day of judgment. To justify is the opposite of to
condemn. Those who confess Christ with the mouth
shall be saved; those who deny him will be lost. Words have a weighty
influence on our eternal destiny. 
38. Master, we would see a sign from thee. Compare
Matt. 16:1 and Luke 11:16, 29.
They had just seen a miracle, but demand another. Jesus never worked
miracles to gratify human curiosity, or to secure popular applause.
39. An evil and adulterous generation. We must keep in mind that
the Lord is speaking to his enemies. He compares them to a faithless
wife. They were faithless to God.
The sign of Jonah. See
40. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the
great fish. See
The great fish was probably not a whale, the Greek is
"sea monster," but a white shark, which abounds abounds in the
Mediterranean, and is said to swallow a horse whole. The miracle was
the preservation of the life of Jonah during his living burial. This
was a type of the burial and resurrection of Christ.
So shall the Son of man be three days and three nights. Jesus
that he will "be raised again the third day." Hence, in Jewish usage
the third day must mean the same as three days and three
nights. It was and is customary with the Orientals to make any part
of the day stand for the whole twenty-four hours. Compare
16:21, Mark 8:31, 2 Chron. 10:5 and 10:12, Esther 4:16, Gen. 7:4, 12, Exod. 24:18, 34:28.
A traveler in the East writes: "At length the tenth morning
arrived--the tenth morning because, though we performed
nominally ten days quarantine, yet it was, really, only eight days. We
landed at nine o'clock in the evening of the first day, and were
liberated at six o'clock in the morning of the tenth day, but it was
held to be ten days according to the custom of the East." Christ was
buried Friday evening, lay in the grave Saturday, and rose Sunday,
parts of three days, rose "on the third day," and was in the grave the
space of time meant in eastern usage by three days and three nights.
In the heart of the earth. In the sepulcher.
41. The men of Nineveh. The great capital of the Assyrian
Empire, situated on the Tigris river, in its day the greatest city in
the world, to which Jonah was sent to warn it of judgment for its sins.
It has been for many hundred years a ruin.
Shall stand up in judgment. They repented at the preaching of
Jonah, but "this generation" of Jews remained impenitent under the
preaching of "one greater than Jonah." The example of the Ninevites
condemns the Jews.
42. The queen of the south. Of Sheba
(1 Kings 10:1),
supposed to be Sabæa in Southern Arabia.
From the ends of the earth. A great distance. On the extreme
southern shores of Asia.
A greater than Solomon is here. A calm assertion of superhuman
majesty and wisdom.
43-45. When the unclean spirit, etc. The application of these
three verses is found in "even so it shall be unto this wicked
the Jews. With an occasional tendency to repentance, as under 
the preaching of John, they became worse and worse until they crucified
the Lord and were destroyed. A man with an unclean spirit, a demon, is
chosen to represent them. He goeth out (transient repentance), returns
with seven other evil spirits worse than himself (a relapse into sin),
and the last state is worse than the first, more wicked and more
wretched. So generally with those who dally with sin.
48, 49. Who is my mother, and my brethren? An allusion to his Divine
character, which lifted him above the ordinary ties of the flesh.
Behold my mother and my brethren. His real relatives are
those bound to him by spiritual ties.
50. The same is my brother. Not those with fleshly ties, but
those who do the will of his Father in heaven. Such become God's
spiritual children, and thus become spiritually related to the Son of
God. It will be observed that there is no hint of adoration of Mary,
his mother, here, or elsewhere in the Scriptures. That she was
immaculately born, as the "Queen of Heaven" and the "Mother of God," is
a Catholic fable.