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Master of the Sabbath

(Chapter 12, verses 1-8)

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       (1) About that time Jesus walked through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples, hungry by now, began to yank off heads of grain to eat. (2) When the Pharisees saw it they accosted Jesus, complaining: "Look at that! By working to pick food today your disciples are actually breaking Sabbath law!" (3) He responded: "Haven't you read what David did when he and his men got hungry? (4) They went into God's House and ate the sacred bread, something that only the priests were to eat. Remember that? (5) Haven't you men read in the Law that the priests ‘profaned' the Sabbath, but remained innocent of breaking any Sabbath law? (6) But I'm here to tell you that something greater and more important than the temple itself is here; (7) and if you really understood what Scripture means when it says, "I'll take mercy any day over sacrifice," you men would not have condemned my innocent disciples. (8) For your information, the Son of man is really the Master of the Sabbath."

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Jesus Cures Man on Sabbath

(Chapter 12, verses 9-13)

       (9) After leaving there Jesus went into their synagogue. (10) Look over there! There's a man whose hand is severely de­formed! His critics slyly ask him, "Is it lawful to perform the miraculous ‘work' of curing on the Sabbath?" This was a trick question to get Jesus to incriminate himself. [Because, even though it was a good thing, it was still ‘work'!] (11) He responded with a question, asking: "Which of you men, on a Sabbath day, would not ‘work' by grabbing hold of one of his sheep to lift it out of a pit that it had fallen into? (12) Well, a man is worth much more than a sheep! So, yes, it is lawful to do a good ‘work' on the Sabbath." (13) He then instructed the man: "Extend your hand in front of me." When the man stretched it out it was completely healed and looked just as good as his other one.

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The Nations Predicted to Hope in Jesus

(Chapter 12, verses 14-21)

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       (14) The Pharisees hated what Jesus did so much so they wanted him dead. So, that's what they planned. (15) When Jesus realized this, he vacated the premises. A lot of people followed him, and he cured them all, (16) but insisted that they not tell the world about him. (17) This was in fulfillment of the specifications set out by the prophet Isaiah, who quoted God when he wrote: (18) "Just look at my specially selected servant, my beloved whom I've embraced! I'll pour my spirit upon him and he'll clearly show the nations the meaning of justice. (19) He won't draw unnecessary attention to himself by yelling and shouting in the streets. (20) He won't put his foot on the back of the neck of the oppressed; neither will he snuff out that one's weakening desire to live. No, the justice he dishes out will be victorious, (21) and it'll fire up hope in his name in people around the world."

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Jesus Expels Demons and

Outlines Unforgivable Sin

(Chapter 12, verses 22-32)

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       (22) Next, they brought him a demonized man who was blind and couldn't talk. Jesus cured the man so that he now could see and speak. (23) Well, the massive crowd was just overwhelmed, and finally asked: "Could this possibly be the Son of David after all?" (24) When the Pharisees heard this, they actually accused Jesus, saying: "This man can exorcize demons because he and Satan or best friends! They have a con game going on!" (25) Knowing their thinking, Jesus said to them: "A government would self-destruct if it had a protracted civil war. And no family would remain close if everyone hated each other and constantly bickered. (26) It's the same way with Satan, the king of the demons. If he exorcises himself, or if demons exorcise other demons, how could Satan's kingdom-or, his family of demons-stand? (27) Furthermore, if I dismiss demons because of my supposed association with Satan, how do your sons discharge them? By your logic, they must be best friends with the Devil too! By casting out demons themselves, they're exposing your faulty reasoning. (28) On the other hand, if it is, in fact, by means of God's spirit that I oust devils, the debate or battle between you and me is over. God's kingdom won, and you didn't even notice. (29) I mean, how can anybody break into a bodybuilder's house and steal his valuables unless the burglar first somehow neutralizes the householder? The burglar would have to find a way to bound and gag the bodybuilder first, then he can steal household items. (30) This is the bottom line: If a man doesn't side with me as a friend, this is an indication that he considers me his enemy. If he doesn't stand by me in one purpose, he distances himself by going in the opposite direction.

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       (31) "Because of this I'll tell you all right now: Every type of sin and sacrilege will be forgiven men, but sacrilege against the manifestations of God's spirit is unforgivable. (32) Let me give you an example: If anyone says one bad thing about the Son of man, he'll be forgiven. But, if anyone denies and decries the unmistakable evidence of the outworking of the holy spirit, it will not be forgiven him in this world, nor in the new one to come.

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 Men Judged by Their Words

(Chapter 12, verses 33-37)

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       (33) "People, do one thing or the other, and be consis­tent. Either make the tree fine, and, along with that, its fruit fine, or make the tree rotten and its fruit rotten. Either way, people will know what kind of tree you are by the fruit you produce. (34) Truth be told, you're snakes, and your daddies were snakes! How can you possibly speak good, non-poisonous words, when you are wicked? You can read a man's heart by the words that come out of his mouth. (35) The good man sends out good vibes from good things he considers important, whereas the wicked man sends out bad vibes from wicked things important to him. (36) I'm here to tell you that all the harmful things men say they'll answer for on Judgment Day. (37) For it is by the very words that come out of your mouth that will either gain you favor in God's eyes, or will doom you to damnation."

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Jonah, Solomon, and

a Wicked Generation

(Chapter 12, verses 38-42)

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       (38) Some of the scribes and Pharisees put forth an answer in the form of a request, and stated: "Teacher, we would very much like you to show us a sign." (39) He gave them the following reply: "A wicked generation of spiritual infidels continually looks for ‘a sign,' but the only one it'll get is the sign of the prophet Jonah. (40) Remember how Jonah was in the stomach of a giant fish for three days and three nights? Well, the Son of man will be in the bosom of the earth for three days and three nights. There's your ‘sign.' (41) The men of ancient Nineveh didn't need ‘a sign.' They simply heard Jonah's message from God, and recognized it for what it was. They'll be resurrected on Judgment Day and will rightfully criticize your spiritually adulterous generation that's seeking ‘a sign.' Unlike you, those men repented, and yet, I'm far more of a prophet than Jonah ever was, and you still won't favorably respond to my God-given message! (42) The Southern queen will be back in the resurrection also, and she, too, will censure your genera­tion. Why? Because she came from the other side of the world to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and here I am, someone greater and wiser than Solomon, and you won't give me the time of day!

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Seven Wicked Spirits,

and a Wicked Generation

(Chapter 12, verses 43-45)

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       (43) "Here's what happens when a filthy spirit, a demon, leaves a man: The entity searches the desert or some other sparsely populated area for a place to rest, but cannot find one. (44) It then says, "I'll return to the house I left." When it arrives it finds that no one is home; but the house is clean and beautifully furnished. (45) Upon seeing this it locates seven different demons more wicked than itself. They all enter and haunt the house. The final circumstances for the house­holder are obviously much worse than they were at first. Well, it's the same with this wicked generation. The final circum­stances for it will be much worse than they were before."

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Jesus' Disciples:

His True Family

(Chapter 12, verses 46-50)

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       (46) As he was enlightening the crowds with his moving speeches, look over there! His mother and brothers are working their way through the crowd. They arrive just outside the house where he's speaking, seeking a private audience with him. (47) So, someone shouted: "Excuse me, Teacher! Your family, your Mom and brothers, are outside. They want to talk to you." (48) Jesus responded to the caller's cry with a couple of puzzling ques­tions: "Who really is my mother? Who really are my brothers?" (49) Gesturing toward his disciples, he answered his own rhetorical questions: "Behold! These are my mother and my brothers! (50) For anyone doing my heavenly Father's will is just like a brother, sister, and mother to me."

To Matthew Chapter 13