Devotionals Archive

Daybreak: Matthew 12:1-21

Mar 06, 2021

“Great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all.” (Matthew 12:15)

Some years back, one of my family members was seriously ill. Many Christians from all over the country joined with us in holding her up before the Lord in prayer. In addition, we did everything we could to make her comfortable, including frequently changing the dressings, feeding her appropriate foods, and assisting with numerous small tasks. These efforts could not bring healing to her, but we wanted to do all we were able to do.

Reading this passage in Matthew where people thronged Jesus with their sick and infirmed loved ones, I know my family and friends would have been in that group. I think of my cousin who had liver cancer, a brother with heart problems, an aunt with a polio-affected leg, and a dear friend with loss of sight. Without a doubt, all of them would have been brought to Jesus to be healed. We would have encouraged anyone we knew — whether their problems were major or seemingly insignificant — to follow Him. In fact, we would have done everything in our power to persuade them of their need to come along.

Although it was still the Sabbath, and Jesus had just been interrogated on the issue of “doing good” on the day of rest, He had compassion on the multitude that followed Him. He had walked quietly away from the Pharisees who were plotting His capture and then, surrounded by the multitude, “He healed them all.” What a glorious day that was, and how the crowd must have rejoiced! Imagine the sick, one after another, pushing in close to Jesus and then walking away completely whole! Their outlook on life was changed and their future held hope! Enthusiasm must have been unbridled!

The encouraging thing is that Jesus is the same today and we have the privilege to come to Him at any time — no travel required — to make our requests. He is ever ready to hear them. Just think of the difference in the lives of all who recall His words, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29), and accept His help. Ruined lives, sick bodies, broken relationships, and hopeless outlooks can be completely changed by coming to Jesus. And we need not leave any behind. 

Let us do everything possible to bring our loved ones to the One who can make a difference!


The Book of Matthew is the first Gospel, or “Good News” of the New Testament, also referred to as the Gospel of the King. Bible scholars believe Matthew the Apostle, also known as Levi the publican, wrote it somewhere around A.D. 60. In his account, Matthew presented Jesus to the Jews as their Messiah by quoting several prophecies and their fulfillments in Christ, thus providing a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. Some consider this book to be God’s official ultimatum to the Jewish nation — the last call of Jehovah introducing His Son, Jesus, to His people. If it was indeed written around A.D. 60, it was penned just ten years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and thus was indeed the “last call.”

In chapter 12, Jesus and His disciples gathered some grain to eat as they went through a field on the Sabbath. The word translated corn is a generic term meaning “the sown” or “grain.” In this case, the grain was likely wheat. In the United States, corn is generally understood to be maize, and other grains are referred to by their own names. 

While it was lawful for Jewish travelers to eat grain from the fields if they were hungry, their law forbade work on the Sabbath, and reaping was considered work. A few Pharisees were spying to see if they could catch Jesus breaking a law, and they seized upon this seeming infraction. Consider the inequity of their accusation — after all, Jesus was the Creator of the Sabbath, grain, and mankind! Miniscule points were addressed in the laws of the Jews, but greater precepts such as mercy and compassion were ignored, leaving them bound by hundreds of minute regulations of their own making. In Mark’s account of this incident, Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27), meaning that God created the Sabbath for man’s benefit.

In His discussion, Jesus cited prophet, priest, and king, in each instance claiming a greater authority. In fact He is our Prophet, High Priest, and King, but the Pharisees chose not to accept it. When they asked if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath, Jesus healed the man’s withered hand and parried their question with a question of His own. The disgusted Pharisees then began plotting to destroy Him. This was the first explicit mention of their murderous designs against the Lord. 

Verses 15 through 21 relate how, rather than disputing with them, Jesus quietly left the area followed by great multitudes, and He healed them all. In comparison to the stubborn and willful rejection of the Pharisees, the open hearts of the masses must have been welcome. Jesus carried out His work quietly, tenderly, and effectively, leading Matthew to quote Isaiah’s beautiful text (found in Isaiah 42:1-7). 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   The opposition to the King
      A.   The commencement of the King’s rejection
            2.   The actual opposition by the religious leaders
                  a.   Controversy over Sabbath labor (12:1-8)
                        (1)   Pharisaic condemnation of the disciples (12:1-2)
                        (2)   Christ’s vindication of the disciples (12:3-8)
                  b.   Controversy over Sabbath healing (12:9-21)
                        (1)   The Pharisaic opposition to Christ (12:9-15)
                        (2)   The resultant discourse by Christ (12:16-21)

A Closer Look

  1. What seemed to be the “final straw” that influenced the Pharisees to destroy Jesus?
  2. What did Jesus mean by saying, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice?”
  3. How can we emulate the righteousness, grace, and mercy modeled by Jesus?


Jesus never withdrew from those who had a need. What a comfort to know that He is still available to meet the needs of those who turn to Him in faith!

Reference Materials