Mitch, Curtis & Edward Sri. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
“The Lord of the Sabbath: One Greater than Jonah, Solomon, and the Temple (Matthew 12:1-50)” pp. 162-173.
In Matthew chapter 12 the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees escalates. Jesus asserts his identity more clearly as well as the nature of the Pharisees. Mitch says that “the sabbath rest was one of the main identity markers for the Jews in the first century, setting them apart from the Gentiles” (Mitch 2010, 163). Though eating from a field was permitted, harvesting on the Sabbath was not. In response, Jesus’ narrative about David makes a messianic claim and identifies the disciples as soldiers of the Messiah (Mitch 2010, 164). Jesus further calls himself the Lord of the sabbath (vv. 7-8), thus claiming deity (Mitch 2010, 164). The Pharisees’ reaction was consistent with their view that Jesus was committing blasphemy (Mitch 2010, 165).
Jesus next withdraws from that location (12:15-21), avoiding confrontation. He may be avoidng “premature arrest and execution” (Mitch 2010, 166). Here Matthew gives his longest fulfillment statement, from Isaiah 42. Jesus will show himself as the Messiah through humility (Mitch 2010, 167).
The conflict escalates in 12:22-27 when the Pharisees allege Jesus is working by demonic power (Mitch 2010, 168). Mitch takes Jesus’ refutation to indicate that he claims to be stronger than Satan, rescuing people from Satan’s power (Mitch 2010, 169). The blasphemy against the Spirit he says is that of claiming the gracious work of the Spirit to be that of the devil, and persisting in that view (Mitch 2010, 169). Jesus identifies the work of the Pharisees as the bad fruit of the devil (Mitch 2010, 169).
In verse 38 Mitch sees the request for a sign as a very adversarial move. The Pharisees had seen many signs but always wanted more (Mitch 2010, 171). Jesus refuses to give any sign but his coming death and resurrection, which he mentions in cryptic terms.