Jesus is Greater
I AM STRUCK by a phrase that is repeated three times in Matthew 12. Speaking of himself, Jesus says, “There is one here who is even greater . . .” Greater than what? Greater than who?
Greater than the Temple: After accusing Jesus of breaking the traditions of the Sabbath by allowing his disciples to pick the heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath, Jesus reminded them that even the priests “did work” on the Sabbath. He was quick to remind them that their traditions prevented them from showing mercy to the one in need. So, Jesus said, “There is one here who is even greater than the Temple!” (Matthew 12:6)
The Temple was a place where God met with the people of Israel. It was a place where the sacrifice for sin was made so that the people of Israel could be forgiven. It was a place where the mercy of God was on display. Therefore, Jesus said in verse 7, “But would you not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of the Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifice.”
Are you marked with a spirit of mercy?
Greater than Jonah: As you know, Jesus was in constant conflict with the religious leaders of his day. In Matthew 12:38, they ask Jesus for a sign to prove he has the authority from God to do what he does. He had already done countless miracles that many had witnessed, and yet the religious leaders refused to believe that Jesus was their Messiah. And so Jesus offers this sign to them, “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”
If you remember the story of Jonah, he came to a Gentile city preaching the need to repent of their sins or they will face the judgment of God. And what happened? They repented of their sin and God spared them. But Jesus says to these religious leaders, “Now someone greater than Jonah is here – but you refuse to repent.” The implication is – how much more will their judgment be because in Jesus they had greater revelation than the people of Nineveh.
Do you humbly repent of your sin and turn in faith to Jesus?
Greater than Solomon: In the same context, Jesus reminds us of how the queen of Sheba sought out Solomon because of his wisdom. She traveled a long distance just to learn from him and to see his wisdom on display. But Jesus says, “Now someone greater than Solomon is here – but you refuse to listen.”
The book of Proverbs contains much of the wisdom of Solomon. And yet, Jesus, the Son of God, is wisdom itself. May our ears and our hearts be found listening to Jesus. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Do you listen to Jesus and follow him?
Jesus is greater!
- Jesus is greater than the Temple – so be merciful to the one in need.
- Jesus is greater than Jonah – so daily repent of your sin and daily rely on Jesus.
- Jesus is greater than Solomon – so listen to Jesus and follow him.