November 14, 2021 – Matthew 12

Lesson Date: November 14, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 12:1-40

AIM: To lead students to learn about the beginning of the Jewish religious leaders’ plot to kill Jesus, and to thank God for His sovereign control of the events of history.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 12 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Enlist two volunteers to find the following verses in their Bibles and be prepared to read them to the class: Exodus 20:8-10; Deuteronomy 23:25.  Write the words, “Plotting to Kill” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the words “Plotting to Kill” on the board.  Ask: “What kind of person would plot to kill another human being?”  Tell them from time to time we hear in the news about someone who carried out an elaborate plot to kill another person.

Sometimes these murder plans involve sexual predators, sometimes they spring from domestic violence, and sometimes they are motivated by money.  Such murder plots involve detailed planning, both in the killing and the cover-up.  In recent years the news media has reported bizarre accounts of mothers killing their children and of men murdering their wives while on a cruise or on their honeymoon trip.

When we hear of such terrible things, it makes us wonder what kind of person would plan a cold-blooded murder.  What kind of wicked, hateful, heartless, and evil person does it take to plot the murder of an innocent human being?

Tell the students today’s lesson is about a group of people who plotted to commit murder.  We will learn who these people were, who they wanted to kill, and what moved them to plan to murder.  This lesson is about the beginning of The Plot to Kill Jesus.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jesus rebuked the indifferent).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Matt. 11:28).
  2. The Pharisees Accused Jesus of Violating the Sabbath.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 12:1-2.
    • Ask: “The Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of wrongdoing. What was their charge?” (violating the Sabbath by picking and eating a few heads of grain; the Pharisees said it was unlawful to do this).
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Exodus 20:8-10.
    • Ask: “What did God set forth as guidelines for the Sabbath?” (they were to remember the Sabbath, keep it holy, and abstain from work).
    • Ask: “What types of work do you think God wanted them to refrain from on the Sabbath day?” (their regular labor that they did the other six days each week, such as planting, harvesting, sewing, building; in other words, their vocation).
    • Ask: “Is it work to step into the kitchen and get something to eat when you are hungry? Do you clock in and put in an 8-hour shift doing that?” (no).
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus’ disciples were walking through a grain field on the Sabbath.
      • All they did was pluck some heads of grain and eat them.
      • They didn’t plow, plant, harvest, thresh, or carry heavy sacks of grain.
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Deuteronomy 23:25.
    • Tell the class the Old Testament Law specifically allowed the plucking of a few heads of grain by hand from your neighbor’s field, but it forbid going in with a sickle to harvest sheaves of grain.
    • Ask: “Why, then, did the Pharisees complain about the behavior of Jesus’ disciples?” (the Pharisees were zealous to keep the commands of the Law, but in their zeal they created many additional restrictions that were not actually included in God’s Law).
    • Explain that the Pharisees considered what the disciples were doing to be “harvesting,” which they thought was a violation of the Sabbath.
    • Read Matthew 12:3-5.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus reminded the Pharisees of a time when King David and his hungry soldiers ate the shewbread from the Tabernacle (1 Sam. 21:1-6).
      • Shewbread was the bread that was set aside for worship ceremonies in the Tabernacle.
      • Jesus also said that while the Sabbath was to be a day of rest, the priests worked in the Temple on the Sabbath and no one accused them of wrongdoing.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 12:6-8.
    • Ask: “In verse 6 Jesus said someone standing there was greater than the Temple. Who was He speaking of?” (Himself).
    • Tell the students that Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6, which says God is more interested in mercy and the heart of the Law than the strict, legalistic rituals of sacrifice.
    • Ask: “What did He say about Himself in verse 8?” (He is Lord of the Sabbath; therefore, He is free to do as He pleases on the Sabbath).
    • Read Matthew 12:9-13.
    • Ask: “What did the Pharisees ask Jesus?” (“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”).
    • Ask: “How did Jesus answer them?” (He said if they had a sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath they would pull it out; He also said a man is worth much more than a sheep and that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus do next to prove He is Lord of the Sabbath?” (He healed the man on the Sabbath day).
    • Summarize: The Pharisees couldn’t keep Jesus in their “box” obeying their rules, so they wanted to get rid of Him.
  3. The Pharisees Plotted to Kill Jesus.
    • Read Matthew 12:14.
    • Tell the class this verse marks the beginning of the plot to kill Jesus.
    • Explain the following:
      • Just like murderers and terrorists who make elaborate plans to kill innocent persons, those First Century Pharisees began plotting, in a cold and calculating way, to kill Jesus Christ.
      • These Pharisees were leaders of Judaism. They were supposed to lead the people closer to God, but instead they plotted to kill the Son of God.
    • Ask: “Why do you think they wanted to kill Jesus?” (they couldn’t control Him; He had more influence with the people than they did; they feared losing their power).
    • Summarize: The Pharisees decided that Jesus must die, so they began plotting to kill Him.
  4. The Pharisees Accused Jesus of Being an Instrument of the Devil.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 12:22-24.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus do?” (delivered a blind and dumb man from demon possession). Ask: “What did the people ask?” (“Isn’t this the son of David – the Messiah?”).
    • Ask: “How did the Pharisees respond to their question?” (they said Jesus cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub: by Satan himself).
    • Read Matthew 12:25-32.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking.
      • He said their charge was ridiculous because a house divided against itself cannot stand.
      • Jesus went on to say that some of the Jews were casting out demons, and asked whose power they used.
      • Jesus explained that ascribing the works of God to Satan is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, a sin that will not be forgiven.
      • Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – determined unbelief – is a permanent condition of the heart, not an isolated action.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 12:33-37.
    • Tell the students the Pharisees were willing to accept Jesus’ good works, such as healing people and casting out demons, but they rejected Him.
    • Ask: “What did He say about that in verse 33?” (you can’t have it both ways: if Jesus is evil then His works are evil, but if His works are good then He must be good, too).
    • Ask: “According to verse 35, where did Jesus say evil words and actions (such as plotting a murder) come from?” (evil in the heart).
    • Summarize: Since the Pharisees couldn’t deny the reality of Jesus’ miracles, they accused Him of being an instrument the devil.
  5. The Scribes and Pharisees Demanded a Sign.
    • Read Matthew 12:38-40.
    • Ask: “What did some of the scribes and Pharisees want?” (Jesus to do a sign or miracle to prove who He was).
    • Explain the following:
      • These same Pharisees had just witnessed Jesus heal a leper (12:13) and cast a demon out of a man (12:22).
      • They probably saw Him do many other miracles.
      • They may have seen Jesus’ disciples doing miracles in the various cities (10:1).
      • In spite of all they had seen, they still asked for a sign.
    • Ask: “Do you think they sincerely wanted a sign that would prove Jesus’ identity?” (no, they wanted Him to do something for which they could accuse and arrest Him).
    • Ask: “What did He say to them?” (an evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign).
    • Ask: “What was the only sign He said they would receive?” (the sign of the prophet Jonah).
    • Tell the class Jesus said just as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish before being returned alive to dry land, He would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
    • Summarize: In spite of all they had seen, the evil scribes and Pharisees demanded a sign. Jesus said the ultimate sign that would prove His identity would be His resurrection.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “What kind of wicked, hateful, heartless, and evil person would plot the murder of an innocent human being?”

Tell the students in Jesus’ case, it was the most pious and religious of all the Jews.  Ask: “Why did they want to kill Jesus?” (because He did not go along with their strict man-made rules, He claimed to be the Lord of the Sabbath, and He even did miraculous works that proved His claim).  They could not allow such behavior to continue, so they decided Jesus had to die.  They began plotting his death, but it would take many months before they carried out their evil plan.

Tell the class it is a sad thing when we hear about the murder of an innocent person.  Even sadder would be the death of the sinless Son of God; BUT Jesus’ death was the most important part of God’s plan to redeem lost people.  Everything the wicked Pharisees did played right into the Lord’s plans. This reminds us that God is in sovereign control of the universe.

Tell the students that God was in control of everything that took place in Jesus’ life, and He is still in control of world events today.  Encourage everyone to thank God for His sovereign control of the events of history.  Tell them to remember this when events don’t go the way they hoped.  Urge them to read and study their Bibles every day so false religious leaders won’t be able to lead them astray with made-up rules and doctrines.  Lead a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Matthew 11:29.  Ask them to read the Bible every day, using the Daily Bible Reading Guide printed in their Sunday School Member Quarterly.

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