Here we get a longer look at the tension between the local religious leaders and Jesus.
It starts when Jesus is accused of violating the Sabbath, which commanded rest (Matthew 12:2). Jesus points out that priests in the temple work on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:5). And something greater than the Sabbath and the Temple is now here.
To further emphasize this, Jesus goes to Sabbath services at a synagogue and heals a man’s withered hand (Matthew 12:10).
Next, the Pharisees claim Jesus’ power to heal comes from demons (Matthew 12:24). But Jesus isn’t using Satan’s power – he’s working by the Spirit of God.
The proof of the Holy Spirit’s work was obvious the fruit he was creating - healing and casting out demons. Good fruit points to a good tree (Matthew 12:33). Jesus is saying he is the good tree. The fruit of God’s Spirit proves that Jesus is God in the flesh. But the Pharisees were bad trees, who could not produce or see the good fruit (Matthew 12:34).
The religious leaders shoot back a demand for proof that Jesus is the Messiah (Matthew 12:38). Jesus replies that all they’ll get is “the sign of Jonah” (Matthew 12:39). Jesus predicts his resurrection by referencing the prophet Jonah’s three days in the belly of a fish. Rising from the grave will be the final proof that Jesus is who he says he is.
But they don’t believe. They stick to their form of wisdom, which they think came from King Solomon. But Jesus tells them something greater than Solomon is now here (Matthew 12:42).
Why is this Good News?
What the Pharisees accused Jesus of is actually true of us. All sinners are under the power of Satan (Ephesians 2:2). But when we put our faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit makes us good trees able to produce the good fruit of faith (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Turning a bad tree into a good tree is something the law could never do (Romans 12:3). The command to rest on the Sabbath could not create rest in our restless hearts.
We needed something greater than the law. And that’s what Jesus says he is (Matthew 12:41).
Jesus is greater than the Sabbath because his rest is perpetual, earned for us, and free to receive.
Jesus is greater than the Temple because he is God present not in a building but a body.
Jesus is greater than Jonah because he did not come from the belly of a fish to be God’s messenger to one city. He is God Himself who came from the belly of the grave to reach all the nations.
And Jesus is greater than Solomon, who built the temple because he isn’t just a wise king who built the house of God. He is the King of Kings and Wisdom embodied who is God in the flesh.
See For Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit would open your eyes to see the God who revealed himself through the Law, the Temple, and people like Jonah. And that you would see Jesus as the one who is greater than all of them because he is God’s final revelation of himself.