gratitude & hoopla: Matthew 12: Intensification

gratitude & hoopla

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

11.8.06

Matthew 12: Intensification

In Matthew 12 Jesus repeats and broadens his claims about himself, and as a result the enmity of the Pharisees is stirred to action. Their conflict with Jesus is not merely a philosophical one. They begin to conspire to destroy him.

Note: Jesus' defense against their various accusations (that he has profaned the sabbath or that he is possessed by Beelzebul) is nothing if not deeply sensible. In other words, he is not merely denying their charges, but verbally demonstrating their hollowness. This must have been deeply frustrating to the Pharisees, for they are status-proud folks, and here the carpenter’s son from Galilee is showing them up publicly.

Jesus, for his part, continues to call himself the Son of Man. He boldly claims to be "the Lord of Sabbath," and later "one greater than Solomon." When the Pharisees, mightily bothered, accuse him of serving Beelzebul, he in response not only demonstrates the absurdity of their accusation, but suggests that they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. He calls them a "brood of vipers," and goes on to suggest that their response to him is crucial to their eternal destiny. Finally, he aligns himself so radically with heaven and with heavenly things as to seems even to deny his own family.

Chapter 12, then, is a chapter of intensification. Jesus' claims have become more radical, more devisive. Meanwhile, the enmity of the Pharisees has also intensified. Finally, it should be noted that, in line with this intensification, Jesus now speaks (no doubt in a veiled manner) of his death and resurrection (v.40):
For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Intensification, indeed.

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