Matthew 11–13: Compassion & Confrontation

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 5: Saturday

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:11–13 LSB

Today’s Bible reading is Matthew 11–13, the third section of this Gospel. Matthew 11:1 says, Now it happened that when Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples. You’ll find similar phrases in Matthew 7:28, 11:1, 13:53, 19:1 and 26:1, that mark the end of a teaching discourse by Jesus. R. E. Nixon writes that these are arranged topically:

“It is evident that there are five discourses in the Gospel ( [1] 5:1–7:27, ‘The Sermon on the Mount’; [2] 10:1–42, the mission charge to the Twelve; [3] 13:1–52, the parables of the kingdom; [4] 18:1–35, relationships in the kingdom; [5] 24:1–25:46, the second coming). Each of these is followed by a note stating that when Jesus had finished this teaching He went on to further action.

“The first discourse is basically ethical, the second missionary, the third kerygmatic [proclamation of the Gospel], the fourth ecclesiastical and the third eschatological.”1

As you read, if you note and mark repeated words or phrases in a book, it can help you dentify people, ideas, main themes, or divisions. Key words or phrases in Matthew include: king, kingdom; Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man; fulfill, fulfilled; marveled; and compassion.. There may be some that occur within specific sections, such as, “Truly I say to you,” and “But I say to you,” that occur within The Sermon on the Mount or parable(s), as in today’s reading. Watch for what these words and phrases teach and show you, such as Truly and But highlight comparisons and contrasts in The Sermon on the Mount..

In today’s reading you’ll see not only the word parable(s), but kingdom repeated as well. Look also for places because Jesus compares the judgment of those who were seeing His miracles with God’s judgment of cities and nations in the Old Testament. You may recognize some of those places because they’ve been in this week’s Old Testament readings.

Matthew will mention prophecies Jesus fulfilled in all three chapters. When Matthew quotes from the Old Testament, the words are written in small capital letters: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE.’ At Bible Gateway click on the gear icon to change the settings to include the cross-references and footnotes scattered within the verses.

Chapter 11 is about John, Jesus, and the generation to which they came. In chapter 12, Jesus confronts the Pharisees. Chapter 13 contains Jesus’ third teaching discourse in Matthew as Jesus tells parables about the kingdom.

In Matthew 11, Jesus’ answer to John was simply for John’s disciples to go tell him what they had seen.

Now when John in prison heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the One who is to come, or shall we look for someone else?”
And Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
Matthew 11:2–6 LSB

The miracles Jesus was doing are attesting miracles because they attested to the truth of who He is.

“Jesus proved his deity and his role as Messiah by means of the many miracles he performed during his earthly ministry (Matthew 11:4–5)…Jesus Christ’s miracles demonstrate his deity, his super­natural origin, his power as Creator, and his authority as the sovereign Lord of all creation.”2

Matthew 12 contains such incredible words of compassion of Jesus to those weary and beaten-down.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28–30 LSB

In the chapter 13, after describing Jesus works and teaching, Matthew writes Jesus has fulfilled these words of the prophet Isaiah:

Matthew 12:18–21 LSB

I chose the name for Kindling for Candles from Isaiah 42:1–4 and these verses in Matthew 12. Within these passages there is justice, confrontation of evil, compassion, comfort, and hope.

Matthew is quoting from the first of Isaiah’s Servant Songs of Messiah. Derek Kidner writes that the Songs “portray the Servant as ‘the man for others.'”3 Think about that for a moment. Jesus came to lay down His life, that those who believe in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life. He was truly ‘the man for others.’ Kidner points out something in Isaiah that is so tender and reassuring to me.

“The Servant’s gentleness, both as unassertiveness (v. 2) and as tenderness for the weak and inadequate (v. 3) is unmarred by any weakness of his own: the words fail and discouraged (v. 4) pointedly take up the Hebrew terms already used for dimly burning and bruised (v. 3).”4

Now think about that for a moment. Bruised in verse 3, and discouraged (NASB: crushed) in verse 4 are both from the same Hebrew word.5 Dimly burning in verse 3, and fail (NASB: disheartened) in verse 4 are both from another Hebrew word.6

When we are like a bruised reed, we have a Savior who is never discouraged, who will not break us. When we feel as if we are a dimly burning wick about to go out, we have a Savior who will not fail, who will not quench us.

R. T. France describes Jesus’ compassion:

“The weak and vulnerable (the smoldering wick is one in danger of going out altogether) are the special object of his mission, and he deals with them with all the gentleness offered to the over-burdened in 11:28–30. Far from letting them be broken and quenched, he will lead them to victory, for in him they will find justice, a word whose scope in the Old Testament is wider than the mere legal vindication, denoting rather the setting right of whatever is not as it should be, ‘the complete establishing of the will of God’.”7

We have each had times in our lives when we have felt battered or like a candle that is smoldering and about to go out. The words of Isaiah and Matthew have given me encouragement in my darkest days, and the themes of justice, evil, com­passion, comfort, and hope speak to me deeply.

Matthew opens chapter 12 with Jesus twice challenging the Pharisees. The contrast between the compassion Jesus had for the weary and heavy laden and His confrontation of those whose religion was only for show is marked and is constant. Watch for it. Think about it.

In Matthew 12 the Pharisees condemn the innocent, set Jesus up to be able to accuse Him, and plot to destroy Him. One thing I noticed is that for the second time, Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 to the Pharisees, “‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE.’,” He first did this in Matthew 9:13 and again in 12:7.

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells six parables of the kingdom of God. To His disciples, he also explains the purpose of His parables, and tell them what two of the parables mean.

The chapter closes with Jesus returning to his hometown of Nazareth.  where He is met with skepticism and offense. There is no earnest seeking through the Scriptures about what He is saying; there is no wonder and joy when miracles heal physical miseries.

And they were taking offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:57–58 LSB

Within these chapters there is a wide range of reaction people have to Jesus. From seeking Him out for miracles and teaching to being offended by Him to wanting to destroy Him.

What about you?

Go back to Matthew 11:28-30. Who is it that Jesus invites? Why does He invite them? What do they need to do? What will they find? Why?

Are you excluded from His invitation?

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Gear icon (Einstellungen Icon): Icons8. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Riet (Reeds), Johannes Hubertus Leonardus de Haas: Public Domain.
1R. E. Nixon, “Matthew,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 813.
2John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, gen. eds., “God the Son,” Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Biblical Truth (Crossway, Wheaton IL: 2017) 284, 386.
See also at Renewing Your Mind, an outreach of Ligonier Ministries, “Healing and Preaching,” A Broadcast with R.C. Sproul: “Jesus performed many miraculous healings out of compassion for the suffering. But Christ’s miracles were much more than acts of mercy. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his expositional series in the gospel of Luke, showing how Jesus’ miracles attest to the divine authority and truth of His teaching.”
3,4Derek Kidner, “Isaiah”, The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds. (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 612, 613.
5William White, “2212 (rāṣaṣ), “crush, oppress,” vol. II, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, eds. (The Moody Bible Institute, Chicago IL: 1980) 860.
6John N. Oswalt, “957 (kāhâ), be dim…fail,” vol. I, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, eds. (The Moody Bible Institute, Chicago IL: 1980) 430.
7R. T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew (Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI: 1985) 206–207.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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