Complete the analysis of Matthew 11 and 12 by naming the four types of persecution Jesus had to face, give an example of each from the Bible text, and take part in a discussion of the importance of Jesus’ teaching for meeting persecution which comes to believers today.
Discuss the relationship between the ministry of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus, based upon the short parable found in Matthew 11:16-20.
Name the three areas of conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees, give an example of each, and take part in a discussion of Jesus teaching about these.
Take part in a discussion of the parable of the unclean spirits in Matthew 12:43-45 and the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the Believer’s life.
Tell where the teaching about the “unpardonable sin” is found and explain what it means to “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit.
Read Matthew 11:1-6.
Where was John the Baptist at this time?
Which of the Herods had put John in prison?
Which two provinces were under this Herod’s jurisdiction? and
So then, where was John arrested by Herod?
Just a year later, this political opposition from Herod brought about the death of John the Baptist at the beginning of the Year of Herods of . Nevertheless, Jesus Christ calmly refused to use the same method to overthrow it and save His companion John the Baptist from death.
While the months passed in jail, John the Baptist began to doubt. Why didn’t Jesus free him? What had happened to the fiery kingdom of heaven John and all the Jews were waiting to come? Finally, John’s faith began to grow weak. What was the main question which came to John’s mind? Had he perhaps been wrong and Jesus was not the Messiah?
Remember that even among Jesus’ own followers there were those who thought that the Kingdom of heaven would come through violent overthrow of the Roman government.
One of the disciples who may have thought that violence was necessary was Simon the for he had once been a Jewish revolutionary. Judging from their attitude in Luke 9:54, and were probably of this opinion too. In John 6:15, we can read of one occasion when others tried to make Jesus by force. So it really isn’t so strange that John the Baptist was tempted in this same way. Jesus was talking about these people when He said in Matthew 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been advancing and men take it by force.
The words “suffers violence” in Matthew 11:12 are used in a different way. Explain the meaning of these words:
Jesus understood John’s temptation and his questioning. He, too, had experienced a similar temptation in the wilderness of Judea.
In which of Jesus temptations (Desert, Temple, High mountain) was He tempted to use violence as a means of setting up the Kingdom of heaven? .
Jesus could understand John’s questions because He had been tempted in ALL THINGS just like His fellow countrymen. So Jesus sent John a message which was intended to strengthen his faith in the coming of the Messiah’s kingdom.
What two things did Jesus use to answer the questions of John’s disciples? and .
The real strength of Jesus’ answer to John the Baptist is in the fact that He quotes Two Messianic prophecies from the book of Isaiah. John would know these prophecies well. Which of these prophecies, Isaiah 35:5-6 or Isaiah 61:1, talks about:
The preaching of the Kingdom
The miracles of the Kingdom
What was Jesus trying to do with this answer to John’s questions. Encourage him by reminding him of the messianic prophecies which He was fulfilling.
After John’s disciples left, Jesus turned to the crowd which was following Him and spoke to then about John’s ministry. He compared the luxury of political Kingdoms to the character of the messianic kingdom.
Read Matthew 11:10. Who was the messenger of the king, the Messiah?
How many times do the words “kings” and “kingdoms” appear in Matthew 11:8-12?
According to Jesus, what is the difference between political kings and the messenger of the kingdom?
Exercise: Underline the words “kings” and “kingdoms” in red in Matthew 11:8-12.
Remember that John the Baptist did not hear the Sermon on the Mount, nor did he see any of the miracles that Jesus did in Galilee because all of this took place during the Year of when John was already in . It is for this reason that Jesus said in Matthew 11:11 that the least in the kingdom of heaven was than John. Although we read about John the Baptist in the New Testament. Rather, John was the last prophet of the Testament.
Read Matthew 11:14. Which Old Testament prophet was John like?
Matthew 11:16-19 contain a small parable. In this parable; Jesus is portrayed as a group of children played at being at parties and dances; while John is portrayed as a group of children played at being at funerals and wakes.
Read Matthew 11:17, 18. Jesus and John were both not accepted by the people.
What was the great difference between the lifestyles of John the Baptist and Jesus?
John was like the Old Testament prophet Elijah.
What did Jesus mean when He said that the least in the Kingdom would be greater than John the Baptist?
Let’s think for just a minute about this matter of political opposition. It can appear in many forms in different countries even your own! In some countries, it may be fairly mild, but in others it will be very hard. Every believer should be prepared to meet political opposition. It can break out in almost any country at any time.
Is there political opposition to the message of the kingdom in your area? How can you face it according to the example and teaching of Jesus?
We should all:
Pray more consistently for fellow Christians who are being persecuted in other countries so their faith will not fail.
Have compassion for those who are facing opposition and have doubts, and a weak faith because of it.
Stand firm in the face of opposition to our faith with patience and steadfastness, and
Prepare ourselves well in body and spirit for the real possibility of hard persecution in the future.
Read Matthew 11:20-24.
It was not just the political authorities that rejected the message of the kingdom of heaven. The common people put it aside too.
We know that Andrew and Peter lived in Capernaum. In what city were Andrew, Peter, and Philip born, according to John 1:44?
Every believer who testifies of His faith will have to under go a certain amount of social opposition in His community. So you have any examples you could share? How did you react to this kind of persecution?
Read Matthew 12:46-50. Who was waiting outside to talk with Jesus? His and His .
Remember that Jesus had already warned His disciples of this possibility in Matthew 10. What are the verses?
Matthew’s account does not tell us what they wanted to talk about Mark gives more complete details about this visit in Mark 13:31-35. Read this and then read verse 21 of the same chapter. Why does Jesus’ family come to talk with Him?
According to John 7:5, what was the attitude of Jesus’ brothers?
Mark 3:21 leads us to believe that even Jesus’ mother and brothers were frightened by the hostility of the political and religious leaders toward Jesus. His message was so radical that they too were opposed to His teaching. According to Matthew 10:36, what is the most difficult kind of persecution to bear?
Although it was probably very painful to think that His own family did not believe Him, Jesus used this incident to teach a very wonderful truth. His kingdom does not count on Physical relatives, but instead upon Spiritual relationships. According to Jesus’ teaching in this passage, who are those who enjoy a family relationship with Him?
Once this truth about the kingdom is really understood, it makes it clear that it is not necessary to trust another Go-between when we approach Christ.
After His resurrection Christ’s mother and His brothers also believed on Him. Read Acts 1:12-14. Which of Christ’s physical relatives were present among the 120 on the Day of Pentecost?
They entered the kingdom the same way as the rest of God’s children, by in Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal Savior.
What is the passage in Matthew 12 which tells us that the kingdom of heaven depends upon spiritual relationships, not physical ones?
Meditate on the following Bible Passages:
Matthew 3:9, Matthew 8:11-12, Matthew 10:21, Matthew 10:34-38, Matthew 12:48-50, John 3:1-3.
What do these verses teach us about salvation and about physical and spiritual relationships? How do we know that we are not saved through physical relationships?
What do these Bible references teach us about the uselessness of trying to depend upon a go-between when we approach Jesus Christ as believers?
Read Matthew 12:1-21
The Sabbath Day was a very special day to the Jewish people. The Law of Moses had said: “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holly, as the Lord your God has commanded you.” Turn to Deuteronomy, chapter 5 and read verses 12 to 15.
What were God’s people supposed to do on the Sabbath? Keep it
What were they NOT supposed to do?
Read verse 15. What was the reason why God told His people to keep the Sabbath
So then, the Sabbath day was to be a day of complete Rest, a Holy day in which God’s people were to worship and remember God’s deliverance from the slavery in the land of Egypt. By the time of Jesus, however, the Pharisees had added a great many more restrictions than are found in the Old Testament. There were many and varied interpretations of what it meant to work and what it meant to rest on the Sabbath Day. It was not the idea of the Sabbath Day which caused the sharp conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. Rather, it was the many human traditions the Pharisees had piled on top of the Law of Moses. For this reason, and in spite of the fact that it caused His enemies to hate Him, Jesus deliberately refused to keep the Pharisee’s human tradition. On what two occasions did the Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the Law of the Sabbath?
The human traditions of the Pharisees had so hidden the purpose of keeping the Sabbath that a common act of kindness, done on the Sabbath Day, became a terrible crime. In the first incident when Christ’s disciples picked the heads of grain on the Sabbath, Jesus destroyed their tradition and their arguments with two examples taken from the Old Testament itself. Jesus mentioned two different times when the Old Testament went against the traditions of the Pharisees. What were these examples?
In Matthew 12:3-4.
In Matthew 12:5.
When the Pharisees objected to Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath, He took an example from their own everyday lives to point out the wrong understanding of the Pharisees and their traditions. Read Matthew 12:11. What example does Christ use?
Jesus answers the Pharisees in Matthew 12:7 saying to them: “But if you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire not , you would not have condemned the innocent.”
Remember that Jesus quoted this same Old Testament verse in Matthew 9:13 when the Pharisees criticized Him for being in the house of a – , whose name was . It is the same truth that He taught in the Sermon on the Mount in the Statutes of Authority. When He spoke about the Law of Moses, the Apostle Paul said the kills, but the gives life. The rigid “sacrifice” of the Pharisees belong to the “letter” that while the mercy which pleases the Lord belong to the Spirit which gives
Look how far the fanatical legalisms of the Pharisees took them! Read Matthew 12:14. What did the Pharisees plan to do to Jesus because of His teaching on the meaning of the Sabbath?
Matthew 12:14-16 are important verses because they mark the beginning of the Pharisees plans to kill Jesus. A plan which was realized when Jesus was put to death on the . Because the time for His death had not yet come, and because Jesus never used His power as God to free Himself from the threats of His enemies, He was left with no other choice than to hide. In Matthew 12:16, Jesus is careful to warn the people not to make Him
In Matthew 12:17-21, Jesus quotes a messianic prophecy which teaches that the Messiah would be Non-Violent.
Which verse states that the Messiah would not fight?
What are the words which are used in this verse? “He will not or .”
What prophet in the Old Testament is Jesus quoting?
What is the Old Testament reference?
Isaiah’s prophecy says much more than this. Isaiah’s talks about the Messiah’s compassion, humility, and gentleness. Read how Today’s English Version translates this passage: “He will not off a bent reed, nor will He put out a . He will persist until He causes justice to triumph…”
How many times are we like the Pharisees! We defend our ideas or the traditions of our denomination and break all of the rest of God’s commandments by looking down upon those who don’t agree with us. We too must learn to keep the spirit of Jesus’ teaching and love those who disagree with us.
Read Matthew 12:22-37
These second charge that the Pharisees made against Jesus was even more serious than the first.
Read Matthew 12:24. What was the accusation?
What did Jesus do to bring about the Pharisees accusation?
Jesus answered this serious charge with a beautiful talk about the Kingdom.
According to Jesus (in Matthew 12:28), the deliverance of the demon-possessed man is evidence of a great truth. What is this truth? That the has come.
On the other hand, it is ridiculous to think that demons would be cast out by the power of Satan. A kingdom (Satan’s) cannot be divided against itself. What would happen to a kingdom such as this?
Exercise: Using your red pen or pencil, underline the word “kingdom” in Matthew 12:25, 26, and 28?
Just the opposite of what the Pharisees said was actually taking place. The deliverance of the demon-possessed man was evidence that the “strong man” (i.e., Satan) had been bound. What is the only power which can bind Satan? Read Matthew 12:28-29. The power of the of God.
I want to pay special attention to the little parable Jesus tells in Matthew 12:43-44. This is the best commentary available on How Impossible it is to try to reform oneself without asking the Holy Spirit to BIND and overcome the strong man, Satan.
Read Matthew 12:43-45
What happens to a person who tries to clean up his own life without letting the Holy Spirit come in?
What is the only way to make sure that Satan cannot come back to take over a life? Read Matthew 12:28.
When an unclean spirit comes back to a child of God in whom dwells the fullness of the Holy Spirit, he will discover that this life as been swept clean and that it is occupied.
The believer’s life is not empty because, according to Romans 8:9, the of is living within.
Is it possible then for an evil spirit to return to a believer to take possession of his life?
In what kind of life is it possible for an unclean spirit to take possession?
In whose life is it NOT possible for an unclean spirit to take possession?
What is the Bible reference for this parable? Matthew
Let’s always give thanks to God that it is impossible for an evil spirit to possess a life which is filled with the . We ought always to ask God to fill our lives with the so that we will leave no room in our life for unclean things of any kind.
This was the weakness of the Pharisees, and a great many people in our day too! The Pharisees cast out immorality and such things as adultery, robbery and murder, but they did not receive the Holy Spirit with His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, etc. They left their houses empty! Satan returned in the disguise of religion seven times worse than before. With him came the sins of pride, hatred, legalism, spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.
What symbol does Jesus use in Matthew 12:34 to describe the Pharisees?
What other servant of God had once used this same symbol to describe them?
What is the Bible reference for this? Matthew
Read Matthew 3:7-11. Three of the following themes are found in the preaching of both John the Baptist and Jesus.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The Pharisees are like vipers.
The trees and their fruit.
Read Matthew 12:31
What sin is the only one God will not forgive?
Who was Jesus saying was coming very close to committing this unpardonable sin?
To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit means that the working of the Holy Spirit is said to be of instead of God.
Most Bible scholars agree that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a deliberative, conscious denial of what the Holy Spirit does in human lives. The person who has done this, refuses to distinguish between good and bad. Once he has confused this in his mind, calling good – bad and calling the bad – good (Isaiah 5:20) he is no longer in a position to repent. Or what should he repent? The good or the bad? For this reason he is unable to receive the forgiveness of his sins, he is unable to receive the forgiveness of his sins, he has committed a sin for which there can be no forgiveness!
It iis worth noting that anyone who fears that he or she has committed the unpardonable sin, has not! He shows by this very fear that he still understands the difference between good and evil and that he has a sense of good and bad. The one who commits this sin no longer feels any guilt or remorse or spiritual worry.
Read Matthew 12:38-42
The third accusation of the Pharisees and their friends, the was that Jesus was not give them . For that reason, they tried to tempt Him to give one.
This is much like one of the temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness of Judea. In which of the three temptations did Jesus face this temptation (Desert, Temple, or High Mountain)?
Christ countered the Pharisees with the illustration of Jonah, an Old Testament prophet. Remember, Jonah was swallowed by a large fish. He stayed in the fish’s stomach for three days until God caused the fish to vomit him up safely on the shore. In what book of the Old Testament is this story found?
Read Matthew 12:40. Jesus used the example of Jonah as a symbol of:
As He had done in the sermon at Nazareth, Jesus referred to two examples of faith among the Gentiles? Read Matthew 12:41-42. Who were these Gentiles?
The men of
The Queen of
Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. You will recall that the Assyrians had taken the lands belonging to Zebulun and Naphtali during the time of Isaiah. That was why the land which belonged to these two tribes of Israel were called Galilee of the . The capital of Assyria was a wicked city. However, the city of repented after hearing the message of the prophet, .
The Queen of the South lived at the time of David’s son, . She ruled over an African country near Egypt. During the reign of David’s son, she made the long journey to Jerusalem to hear first hand the wisdom God had given to .
In spite of the opposition, He faced and the uproar it always created, Jesus continued to make fantastic statements of His own superiority. Look up each of the following Bible references. In each of them Jesus says He is superior to:
No one in their right mind would make such statements as these! However, it is quite obvious that Jesus was perfectly sane. The only other alternative then, is that these fantastic claims were true! They prove once again that Jesus is not only man, but also
What kinds of persecution or opposition have you had to face in your Christian life? Have you been able to stand the testing? Would you like to know what Jesus said about standing persecution?
Well, Jesus does give us some instructions about facing opposition. They are not found in Matthew 12. But are found in chapter 11, Verses 25-30. We will look at them now, they are a great way to finish our study.
Read Matthew 11:25-30. Do you recall the circumstances in which Jesus said these words of hope?
The circumstances really couldn’t have been much worse. Jesus was threatened by Herod the , rejected by His own people in the village of Nazareth as well as the main cities of , , and , and the religious leaders, the were plotting ways in which they might Him. Even His own and were coming to take Him away.
The circumstances could not be worse! Nevertheless, Jesus did not complain about those who rejected His kingdom. Rather in Matthew 11:25, we discover Jesus praying and giving to God.
Jesus praised God because even those things which had been hidden from the wise and well-educated men of the past were now being revealed to . Or, in other words, God has now revealed these things to the unlearned and simple of heart. These are the ones Jesus says will enter into His kingdom. Matthew 11:29 is important here. There Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount? According to His words in Matthew 5:11-12, when are we to rejoice and be glad?
Read Acts 16:25
Years later, when the Apostle Paul and Silas were persecuted and even after being beaten and thrown in jail in Philippi; they followed the example of Jesus. What did they do?
The most effective way to overcome the effects of persecution and the discouragement which often comes after opposition is to do what Jesus, Paul, and Silas did. They gave to God.
You must practice using praise as a remedy for persecution and discouragement in your life, brother. Each time you feel the Hurt of opposition and rejection, look for the many reasons you have to give praise to God. Like Jesus, Paul and Silas you can chase away your discouragement. Why not take a few minutes and write down some of the things you have to praise God for right now!
The second step which can be taken is presented to us under the symbol of the yoke. For those who are weary and tired, the persecuted and the discouraged, Jesus offers rest of heart. This does not come by lazy living, but by means of His “yoke” which is a symbol of: dedicated service.
This seems like a contradiction doesn’t it? The read secret lies in the little word “My” yoke. His yoke is covered with gentleness and love and never hurts. It is for this reason that Jesus says in Matthew 11:30: “For my yoke is and my load is .”
According to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28, how can we find rest of heart when we are discouraged and tired?
Exercise: Matthew 11:28 is one of the most beautiful promises in the Bible for those who are weary and burdened down with sorrow or care. Write the Letter “P” in the margin beside the verse.
Draw a blue box around Matthew 11:25-30 so you will be able to locate it when you wish to help others overcome persecution and discouragement.
What have you learned from Jesus’ words about being able to stand under persecution and discouragement in your own life?
What have you learned which will help you to minister to the needs of some one else who is suffering opposition and discouragement? (Remember the example of how Jesus dealt with John the Baptist).
BIO:William Leroy Pettingill
American pastor, educator, and lecturer. Born August 27,
1886, William Pettingill received only a fourth-grade educa-
tion because of precarious family finances. Saved at 13, se-
rious Bible study began a decade later after his first en-
counter with C.I. Scofield. From that point, Pettingill moved
from Y.M.C.A. work into the pastorate and teaching. Many of
his 21 books are revised sermon studies.
In 1913 Scofield and Pettingill cofounded the Phila-
delphia College of the Bible, with Pettingill serving as
dean. In addition to stimulating students with his vivid
visualizations of the Word and his hearty laugh, Pettingill
wrote widely, served on the council of the Central American
Mission, and was a staunch supporter of the fundamentalist
From 1929 to 1950 Dr. Pettingill traveled across
North and Central America, and to Europe, sharing his gift of
stirring people to action from the Word. “Keep looking up”
was his motto, but it became the challenge of many.
Dr. Pettingill exchanged his faith for sight Septem-
ber 15, 1950.