In this chapter we really begin to see a different side of Jesus. So far in Matthew, we have seen Jesus heritage and his ministry. We have seen where He came from, His lineage and his birth, including how the prophecies were coming true. We have also looked at His temptation and His ministry. His message for his disciples and how He responds to the peoples needs. His working of miracles and His compassion are key principles so far, but now we begin to really see a different side of Jesus in this chapter.
It starts out with Jesus and His disciples walking through some fields one Sabbath. The disciples began to pick and eat the grain as they walked. The Pharisees ever watching and lofty eye searching for something, began criticizing the disciples for this. Jesus began to shine the light on the situation reminding the Pharisees that the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath. In response, Jesus comes into their synagogue and heals a man.
The Pharisees are furious, and seek to destroy Him. They call Him the devil, and criticize all that He does. Yet the people keep coming and Jesus continues to heal and minister. Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and their actions. He defines a tree by its fruit and a man by his actions. Thus He condemns the Pharisees and flips the Israelite society on its head. He shows that it is not about having lofty words and the proper lineage, it’s about obedience to the one to who obedience is due. It’s about pursuing God and the truth, not about following a bunch of rules for the sake of the rules… that’s not to say that the rules are to be rejected. Jesus, the Christ, did not reject the rules. In fact He lived in them and embodied them… but rather pursuing the Father, the creator of the world and the rules.
Jesus goes even further by redefining the very nature of family. He states that those who do his will are His brothers and mother, not those who He is born to / with.
We see in this chapter Jesus going from ministering to the people, to rejecting and correcting the sin and corruption of the leadership. We see an outright attack against the Pharisees: “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. ” We see a changing of the guard.