‘A Greater Than…’ Bible Study supplied by Stephen Clarke (link at foot)

“a greater than… is here”
[Matthew 12]

Bible Study ~ Greater Than: Jonah, Temple, SolomonIn the twelfth chapter of Matthew we have Jesus referring to Himself as “a  greater than.” On three occasions, each time in answer to the Pharisees’ and  scribes’ behaviour and questioning. We shall consider these three statements of  the Lord Jesus.

  • V.6 greater than the temple.
  • V.41 greater than Jonah.
  • V.42 greater than  Solomon.

1. Greater than the temple

At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples  were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the  Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not  lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what  David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered  into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him  to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have  ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple  profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place  is one greater than the temple. (Matthew 12:1-6 AV)

In this passage we see that:

  1. The Pharisees criticise the disciples for breaking the Sabbath law.
  2. Jesus reminded them that David their great king ate the shewbread unlawfully.
  3. The priests are constantly profaning (making common) the Sabbath yet are  blameless.
  4. That there was one greater than the temple here. That is Himself.

In considering the temple we see that:

  • The temple was the centre of Israel’s life.
  • The temple was where God met with His people.
  • The temple was where all the sacrifices took place.

In saying that He was greater than temple Jesus was pointing them to the great  truth That He was the fulfilment of which all that these things spoke.

  • We see: Jesus spoke of His body as being a temple. Jn.2: 13-22
  • Jesus spoke of a change in worship, no longer focussed on an earthly place,  but in spirit and truth.Jn.4: 19-24
  • Jesus is God manifested in human flesh- the glory of the Father dwells in Him,  now, not an earthly building. Jn.1: 14
  • Jesus is the only way by which we can come to the Father. Jn.14: 6
  • Jesus is now the centre of the Church.Col.1: 18;Rev.21: 21-23
  • Jesus is the complete fulfilment of the OT sacrificial system. Matt.5: 17;  Heb.9: 1-4

2. Greater than Jonah

Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we  would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and  adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to  it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three  nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three  nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with  this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of  Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:38-41 AV)

In this passage we note:

  1. The Pharisees were asking for a sign: that is, some token to distinguish  Jesus from the rest!
  2. Jesus said that it is an evil and adulterous generation that seeks after  signs.
  3. Jesus said that the only sign would be that of the prophet Jonah.
  4. Nineveh would rise in Judgement for they repented.

In considering this we must understand the following context of the twelfth  chapter:

  • Jesus had already healed many people in this chapter one of them was  possessed. Mtt.12:9-23.
  • The Pharisees were accusing Jesus of casting out devils by Beelzebub Mtt.12:24

To ask for a sign distinguish Jesus from the rest was, to say the least, a bit  of a cheek! What can we then learn from this answer of Jesus?

  • A sign seeking generation is called adulterous because its heart is lusting  after things it shouldn’t. The true heart’s desire should be God Himself.
  • The only sign that Jesus will give is that of resurrection. It is that alone  which proves and distinguishes Jesus from the rest! No resurrection no  salvation. Jn.2: 13-22. Rom.;1:3-4; I Cor.15:3-4;16-18
  • Nineveh repented, and so avoided judgement, at the preaching of Jonah. At the  preaching of Jesus repentance is not just from judgement but unto LIFE. Acts  11:18.
  • Nineveh, a Gentile nation, repented; the Pharisees part of the Jewish heritage  did not. No wonder Nineveh would rise up against them.

In short Jesus is greater than Jonah for He is actually raised from the dead,  not just so in a figure; His repentance is unto life and not just from  judgement.

3. Greater than Solomon

The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and  shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the  wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:42  AV)

We have here:

  1. The queen of the South, Sheba, came from afar.
  2. She came to hear of the famed Wisdom of Solomon.

In order to follow the train of thought here we must remember:

  • God gave Solomon the wisdom in the first place. II Chr.1:7-12.
  • Solomon was arrayed with great glory Mtt.5: 29

Relating this to The Lord Jesus we see:

  • The Pharisees condemnation is once more that a Gentile from afar believed, yet  they who were near did not.
  • Jesus is greater than Solomon because HE IS WISDOM itself, not merely the  greatest exponent of it. I Cor.1: 18-30; 3:15-17

In summing the whole then we see that the Pharisees, by concentrating on the law  added to it and became so obsessed with it that they lost sight of the truth.  Mtt12: 7-8; 15:6; 23:1-24. In so doing they were laying heavy burdens upon the  people (see Mtt.23).

In answer to all this Jesus said:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye  shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 AV)

Christ’s yoke is easy, the Pharisees were placing millstones on people’s neck!  Thus we have Jesus showing us that He is the fulfilment of all the OT.

  1. Priesthood: shown by the reference to the Temple.
  2. Prophets: shown by the reference to Jonah.
  3. Kingly hopes: shown by reference to Solomon.

In short Jesus is the Foundation and we should be centred on Him alone. Let us all keep our hearts and minds fixed on Him and let nothing at all deflect us from that.

‘A Greater Than…’ Bible Study was supplied by Stephen Clarke, website: www.scripturetruth.org

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