Matt 12:2 thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day
James E. Talmage
"On a certain Sabbath, He and the disciples walked through a field of grain, and, being hungry, the disciples began to pluck some of the ripening ears; rubbing out the kernels between their hands, they ate. There was no element of theft in what they did, for the Mosaic law provided that in passing through another's vineyard or corn field one might pluck grapes or corn to relieve hunger; but it was forbidden to use a sickle in the field, or to carry away any of the grapes in a vessel. (Deut. 23:24,25) The permission extended only to the relief of present need. When the disciples of Jesus availed themselves of this lawful privilege, there were Pharisees on the watch, and these came at once to the Master, saying: 'Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.' The accusers doubtless had in mind the rabbinical dictum that rubbing out an ear of grain in the hands was a species of threshing; that blowing away the chaff was winnowing; and that it was unlawful to thresh or winnow on the Sabbath. Indeed, some learned rabbis had held it to be a sin to walk on grass during the Sabbath, inasmuch as the grass might be in seed, and the treading out of the seed would be as the threshing of grain." (Jesus the Christ, 198-99)
Bruce R. McConkie
"By this one Sabbath-performed act, our Lord's fellow travelers were guilty of two violations, not of biblical, but of Rabbinic law. They had both reaped and harvested. The plucking of the ears of corn constituted reaping, and the rubbing off of the husks fell under the sabbatical prohibition against sifting in a sieve, threshing, sifting out fruit, grinding, or fanning. Each of these sins merited punishment and required a sin offering on the great altar in the house of the Lord in Jerusalem." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 84.)
Matt 12:3-5 Have ye not read what David did?
After finding out that king Saul intended to kill him, David fled from Jerusalem. He arrived in a place called Nob where he met with a priest, Ahimelech (1 Sam 21:1-6). Hungry from his hurried journey, he petitioned the good priest for food, but Ahimelech had only the table of shewbread. Along with vessels of wine, the shewbread sat on a table in the tabernacle of Moses and represented "the bread of life." (See Old Testament Institute Manual, Gen - 2 Sam., 1981, p. 149) The old loaves were usually eaten by the priests. David was not a priest. He had no right by Jewish law to eat the holy bread. Yet Ahimelech understood that the life of David was more holy than the shewbread, for it was the tabernacle of Moses which made the bread holy not the bread itself (1 Sam 21:5). The modern day corollary would be for the teachers to give leftover sacrament bread to a famished traveler who was not worthy to take the sacrament. Hereby, we learn what is holy about the sacrament bread is not the bread itself but what it represents.
"'In truth, the reason why David was blameless in eating the shewbread was the same as that which made the Sabbath-labour of the priests lawful. The Sabbath-Law was not one merely of rest, but of rest for worship. The Service of the Lord was the object in view. The priests worked on the Sabbath, because this service was the object of the Sabbath; and David was allowed to eat of the shewbread, not because there was danger to life from starvation, but because he pleaded that he was on the service of the Lord and needed this provision. The disciples, when following the Lord, were similarly on the service of the Lord; ministering to Him was more than ministering in the Temple, for He was greater than the Temple. If the Pharisees had believed this, they would not have questioned their conduct, nor in so doing have themselves infringed that higher law which enjoined mercy, not sacrifice.' (Edersheim 2:58.)" (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 87.)
Matt 12:12 Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days
Christ's message regarding Sabbath worship was that the spirit of the law was to do good, regardless of the restrictions of the letter-the letter calls for sacrifice, but the spirit calls for mercy. Bruce R. McConkie noted, "There is a higher law. Mercy is greater than sacrifice. The 'letter,' as it were, of sacrificial performances, or of Sabbath observance, or of tithe paying, or of keeping the Word of Wisdom, or of any act or performance, 'killeth'; only the spirit giveth 'life.' Sabbath restrictions are not to be compared with Sabbath acts involving mercy and goodness and grace. The lesser law is superseded by the higher. 'The Sabbath was expressly designed for mercy, and therefore not only might all acts of mercy be blamelessly performed thereon, but such acts would be more pleasing to God than all the insensate and self-satisfied scrupulosities which had turned a rich blessing into a burden and a snare.' (Farrar, p. 337.)" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 87.)
Unfortunately, even today, we can become more like these Pharisees in our approach to the Sabbath. We often will make long lists of things we should not do on the Sabbath. Sometimes we want to be told everything we can or can't do, forgetting that 'he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant' (DC 58:26) Accordingly, in the writings of the General Authorities, long lists of "thou shalt nots" for the Sabbath are notably absent. The reason is that Sabbath worship is not about bad things we don't do but good things we need to do. Hence, the Savior's focus is to 'do well on the sabbath days.'
Spencer W. Kimball
"The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, sleeping, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day to which he is expected. To fail to do these proper things is a transgression on the omission side." (James E. Faust, Finding Light in a Dark World, 116.)
James E. Faust
"On February 1, 1980, when the First Presidency announced the consolidated Sunday meeting schedule, the following counsel was given:
'A greater responsibility will be placed upon the individual members and families for properly observing the Sabbath day. More time will be available for personal study of the scriptures and family-centered gospel study.
'Other appropriate Sabbath activities, such as strengthening family ties, visiting the sick and homebound, giving service to others, writing personal and family histories, genealogical work, and missionary work, should be carefully planned and carried out.
'It is expected that this new schedule of meetings and activities will result in greater spiritual growth for members of the Church.'" (Finding Light in a Dark World, 116.)
Matt 12:14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him
What made these Pharisees so mad? How had they gone from religious leaders to plotting murderers? Their anger stemmed primarily from jealousy and an unbearable humiliation. When they accused the disciples, Christ had put them in their place with his arguments. Adding to their humiliation with the scathing rejoinder, 'have ye not read in the law?' (v. 3, 5). The Pharisees prided themselves on the knowledge of the law. That an unlearned Nazarene would show them up in his knowledge of the law was infuriating. Next, they are told 'That in this place is one greater than the temple' and 'the son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.' Both claims were surely viewed as blasphemy. After being rebuffed so resoundingly, we can imagine their evil anger swelling within them.
Hence, they planned a second trap-hoping to accuse him for healing on the Sabbath. Christ's response (v. 11-12) proved again that He was out of their league. They could not compete with him. Every time they opened their mouths, Jesus would insert a Pharisaical foot. Eventually, the Pharisees would learn their lesson, 'And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions' (Matt 22:46). The last straw was for Christ to prove indeed that he was 'Lord even of the Sabbath day' and 'greater than the temple' by restoring the man's hand in a dramatic and irrefutable miracle. The Pharisees' humiliation ran deep; their jealousy festered; and murder entered into their wicked hearts.
Matt 12:16-20 charged them that they should not make him known
Christ's attempts to remain anonymous are curious. It seems he did not want to be renowned as a miracle worker. He was not looking for good press. His behavior, as in all things, seems so different from the ways of men. Matthew's explanation for Christ's intended anonymity is that it was in fulfillment of ancient scripture. He quotes, 'He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.' (v. 19)
Hence, Christ's ministry was the opposite of a political campaign. He was the king of the Jews but he wasn't running for the office. There were no megaphones, banners, or brass bands. His ministry was comprised of spiritual sermons not stump speeches. His disciples were humble followers, not political parties or special interest groups. There were no empty promises. When he kissed babies, it was not a "photo-op", but an expression of divine love. His manner was quiet and harmless as a dove; he wouldn't even break 'a bruised reed.'
Matt 12:25 Every kingdom...or house divided against itself shall not stand
"Jesus' pronouncement that 'a house divided against itself cannot stand' pointed out the inconsistency of ascribing good deeds to evil sources. Even Satan does not thus dissipate his powers. It is equally true that a man divided against himself cannot stand. The Jekyll-Hyde relationship nullifies a positive personality and ultimately effects its destruction. To avoid frittering away his energies, man must hold some positive convictions about himself...The true Christian will build upon the basis of divine lineage and thus in his serious moments recognize the human personality as the most important thing in the world. He is the literal child of God." ("A House divided", Gustive O. Larson, Improvement Era, 1942, Vol. Xlv. February, 1942. No. 2. .)
Hugh B. Brown
"Man tears his spiritual heritage to shreds in licentiousness and drink. He wallows in vice, wins by cruelty, violates love, is treacherous to trust. His sins clothe the world in lamentation. Yet within him is a trust that he cannot stifle. He is the only creature we know of whose nature is divided against himself. Man hates his sin even while he commits it. He repents, tries again, falls, rises, stumbles on-and in all his best hours man cries out for help." (Conference Report, October 1969, Third Day-Morning Meeting 106.)
Elder Abraham H. Cannon
"...the Savior Himself...said that a house divided against itself could not stand. He warned His disciples to seek for that spirit of oneness which was characteristic of Himself and His Father in heaven; for He said, 'If ye are not one, ye are not mine.' You, my brethren and sisters, are aware of the special features which characterized the saints in former days, and which are characteristic of Latter-day Saints as well...They were alike in their temporal affairs as well as in their spiritual concerns. They saw eye to eye. There were no bickerings among them. There was no strife nor contention. But there was a spirit filling each heart and resting down upon every individual that made him love his neighbor as himself, and love God, his Creator, with all his heart." (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols., vol. 3, Oct. 30, 1892)
Matt 12:27 by whom do your children cast them out?
This question put the Pharisees in a predicament. Like the question, 'The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?' (Lu 20:4), any answer would place the Pharisees in a bad light. Monte S. Nyman explains why:
"Their 'children' were other people who were performing similar miraculous healings of people possessed by evil spirits. These persons had power not possessed by the accusers, and they were therefore more powerful than the Pharisaic rulers. The logic was that if these healings were done by the power of Satan, then Satan had more power than the Pharisees and they would become subject to him. Again they were caught in their faulty reasoning.
"On the other hand, if Jesus had 'cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God' had come unto the Pharisees (Matt. 12:28), and they were rejecting or fighting against it. Jesus then declared by what power these others were performing miracles (a truth restored in the Joseph Smith Translation): 'They also cast out devils by the Spirit of God, for unto them is given power over devils, that they may cast them out.' (JST, Matt. 12:23; cf. Matt. 12:28.) These others, members of the Church of Jesus Christ who held priesthood power, were not using the power of Satan but were using the power of God delegated to them as members of the kingdom of God. The kingdom was restored and the Pharisees were fighting against it." (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels, 253.)
Matt 12:29 how can one enter into a strong man's house...except he first bind the strong man?
James E. Talmage
"Christ had attacked the stronghold of Satan, had driven his evil spirits from the human tabernacles of which they had unwarrantably taken possession; how could Christ have done this had He not first subdued the 'strong man,' the master of devils, Satan himself? And yet those ignorant scholars dared to say in the face of such self-evident refutation of their own premises, that the powers of Satan were subdued by Satanic agency. There could be no agreement, no truce nor armistice between the contending powers of Christ and Satan." (Jesus the Christ, 250)
Matt 12:30 He that is not with me is against me
Bruce R. McConkie
"'They who are not for me are against me, saith our God' (2 Ne. 10:16; Matt. 12:30).
"We are either for the Church or we are against it. We either take its part or we take the consequences. We cannot survive spiritually with one foot in the Church and the other in the world. We must make the choice. It is either the Church or the world. There is no middle ground. And the Lord loves a courageous man who fights openly and boldly in his army.
"To certain members of his ancient church, he said: 'I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.' (Rev. 3:15-16.) The summer patriot and the sunshine saint retreat when the battle wages fiercely around them. Theirs is not the conqueror's crown. They are overcome by the world." (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, 361.)
JST Matt 12:26 All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men who receive me and repent
Many faithful saints have committed very serious sins. Having knowingly sinned against the light, they falsely assume that they are beyond the reach of Christ's infinite atonement. This scripture tells us that all sins can be forgiven but one, the sin against the Holy Ghost. This means that adultery, abortion, homosexuality, suicide, and even murder can be forgiven if the individual is repentant.
"The Atonement of the Savior covers every repentable sin known to man. This is both logical and reassuring. Certainly in the premortal council the Lord must have known of the depths to which mankind would sink...The Prophet Joseph confirms both the Lord's omniscient foresight and universal redemption: 'The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation...He knew of the fall of Adam, the iniquities of the antediluvians, of the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family...He knows the situation of both the living and the dead, and has made ample provision for their redemption.'" (Tad R. Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 101-102)
However, the scriptures explain that receiving forgiveness for the sin of murder is not easy (Alma 39:6). "The murderer, by terminating an individual's earthly experience, sins grievously against the person he has killed. Those who murder steal the precious gift of mortal experience from another and set themselves in open opposition to God, the giver of life. Further, murderers place themselves in a position where it is impossible to ask forgiveness of the one sinned against or to make restitution-at least in this life. So grievous is the act that the Prophet Joseph Smith said murderers 'cannot be forgiven, until they have paid the last farthing.'" (Arthur R. Bassett, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," Ensign, Aug. 1994, 27)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Murderers are forgiven eventually but only in the sense that all sins are forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost; they are not forgiven in the sense that celestial salvation is made available to them. (Matt. 12:31-32; Teachings, p. 356-357.) After they have paid the full penalty for their crime, they shall go on to a telestial inheritance. (Rev. 22:15.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 520)
"What hath Jesus said?- All sins & all blasphemies, every transgression except one there is a provision either in this world or in the world of spirit. Hence God hath made a provision that every spirit can be ferreted out in that world that has not sinned the unpardonable sin neither in this world or in the world of spirits. Every man who has a friend in the eternal world who hath not committed the unpardonable sin you can save him." (Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook , 359-361.)
Matt 12:31 blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men
"'All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,' Jesus warned, 'but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men, . . . neither in this world, neither in the world to come.' (Matt. 12:31-32.) These are they who 'know [God's] power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy [God's] power-they are they who are the sons of perdition, . . . vessels of wrath,' enemies to the cause of truth, 'having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.' (D&C 76:31-35.) Joseph Smith declared:
"All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy.'
"The sin against the Holy Ghost is unpardonable because it is not covered by the atoning blood of Christ and because no amount of personal suffering on the part of the sinner can atone for the pernicious deed." (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 8: Alma 30 to Moroni, 49-50)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"All who partake of this, the greatest of sins, sell themselves as did Cain to Lucifer. They learn to hate the truth with an eternal hatred, and they learn to love wickedness. They reach a condition where they will not and cannot repent. The spirit of murder fills their hearts and they would, if they had the power, crucify our Lord again, which they virtually do by fighting his work and seeking to destroy it and his prophets." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 49)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"The testimony of the Holy Ghost is the strongest testimony that can be given. It is better than a personal visit. It is for this reason that the Savior said that all manner of sin and blasphemy against the Holy Ghost could not be forgiven." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3: 153.)
Matt 12:32 whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him
As important as the doctrine regarding blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is the doctrine of Christ's mercy. We often imagine that Christ's suffering ended on the cross-that the last indignity was to be reviled and mocked by his own people, but His pain continues with each individual denial of Christ. Amazingly, his mercy is as infinite as his atonement. Though he has suffered and should be permitted to suffer more, the mocking continues by those who take his name in vain, reject the good news of his message, deny his saving powers, or more commonly ignore him altogether. There seems to be many who, in the words of Nephi, would trample under their feet...the very God of Israel (1 Ne 19:7). Yet, none of these sins is unforgivable. Those whose footprints still mark his holy back may repent and find themselves encircled eternally in his loving arms (2 Ne 1:15).
Neal A. Maxwell
"Losing ourselves includes a willingness to witness for Jesus, as this insightful translation of Joseph Smith's makes clear:
Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, and repenteth, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him who blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him.' (JST, Luke 12:9-12.)
"Jesus thus gave reassurance to His anxious disciples who apparently had not publicly confessed His name sufficiently. Yet there was hope, if they repented." (A Wonderful Flood of Light, 104.)
Matt 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?
David O. McKay
"Thoughts are the seeds of acts, and precede them. Mere compliance with the word of the Lord, without a corresponding inward desire, will avail but little. Indeed, such outward actions and pretending phrases may disclose hypocrisy, a sin that Jesus most vehemently condemned.
"'O generation of vipers,' he exclaimed, 'how can ye, being evil, speak good things?' (Matt. 12:34. ) The Savior's constant desire and effort were to implant in the mind right thoughts, pure motives, noble ideals, knowing full well that right words and actions would eventually follow. He taught what modern physiology and psychology confirm, that hate, jealousy, and other evil passions destroy a man's physical vigor and efficiency. 'They pervert his mental perceptions and render him incapable of resisting the temptation to commit acts of violence. They undermine his moral health. By insidious stages they transform the man who cherishes them into a criminal.'" (Conference Report, October 1951, First Day-Morning Meeting, 6-7.)
Matt 12:36 every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment
Spencer W. Kimball
"When I was about fourteen years of age I read the Bible through. It was a long, arduous task for me but I finished it with a degree of pride. When I read that all men would be judged according to their works, that seemed plausible and I thought I must mind my actions and my works. Then I read what the Savior said to the people of Palestine.
'Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.' (Matt. 12:36-37.)
"This seemed to me far-fetched, for when I 'cussed' the cows which struck me in the eyes with their cocklebur-matted tails or kicked over the milk bucket, I looked around and there was not a single soul in the corral to hear me; and though the cow could hear, perhaps she could not interpret. And when I quarreled with my brothers out in the field, I was sure there were no other ears within many blocks. How then could one be judged by his words?
"That was bad enough but there was worse to follow, for I later read in the Book of Mormon the words of a prophet saying that even our thoughts will condemn us.
'Our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us . . . and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God.' (Alma 12:14.)" (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 103.)
David O. McKay
"'Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.' (Matt. 12:36.)
"As a boy I questioned that truth when I first heard it expressed by my father. I remember saying to myself, 'Not even the Lord knows what I am thinking now.' I was very much surprised, therefore, when, later as a student in the university, I read the following in William James' psychology about the effect of thought and action on human character. I quote it for the young people particularly:
"Spinning Our Own Fates: We are spinning our own fates good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar. The drunken Rip Van Winkle, in Jefferson's play, excuses himself for every fresh dereliction by saying, 'I won't count this time.' Well! he may not count it, and a kind Heaven may not count it; but it is being counted none the less. Down among his nerve-cells and fibres the molecules are counting it, registering and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes. Nothing we ever do is, in strict scientific literalness, wiped out. Of course this has its good side as well as its bad one. As we become permanent drunkards by so many separate drinks, so we become saints in the moral, and authorities and experts in the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate acts and hours of work." (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, 378.)
Dallin H. Oaks
"Profanity is profoundly offensive to those who worship the God whose name is desecrated. We all remember how a prophet reacted from a hospital bed when an operating room attendant stumbled and cursed in his presence. Even half-conscious, Elder [Spencer W.] Kimball 'recoiled and implored: 'Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile.' (Improvement Era, May 1953, p. 320.)
"The words we speak are important. The Savior taught that men will be held to account for 'every idle word' in the day of judgment. 'For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.' (Matt. 12:36-37.) He also said, 'That which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.' (Matt. 15:11.)
"Truly, as the Apostle James taught, 'The tongue is a fire, ... an unruly evil' that can defile the whole body. (James 3:6, 8.)
"Profanity also takes its toll on the one who uses it. As we read in Proverbs, 'A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.' (Prov. 15:4.) The Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Ghost, testifies of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. (See 2 Ne. 31:18.) When those names are dishonored, that Spirit, which 'doth not dwell in unholy temples' (Hel. 4:24), is offended and withdraws. For this reason, those who profane the name of God inevitably relinquish the companionship of his Spirit." ("Reverent and Clean," Ensign, May 1986, 49)
Matt 12:39 An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign
"How does a disposition to seek after signs relate to seeking after carnal pleasures? Simply stated, those who have given themselves up to their lusts, who desire that which will satiate the flesh, and who have exhausted their passions in their search for the sensual also seek physical manifestations of spiritual sensations. They demand proof! Unable to recognize and acknowledge eternal certainties, they insist that the truths associated with the area with which they are least familiar-the spiritual-be manifest and translated into that realm they have come to know more surely than any other-the fanciful and the physical. The adulterous are those who worship at the altar of appetite, whose thresholds for gratification are ever rising and who thereby demand something extraordinary to establish the truthfulness of a claim. Ironically, this claim may be verified only by the quiet and unobtrusive whisperings of the Spirit. Spiritual blindness and the spirit of adultery are thus common companions. Of this fascinating but pathetic phenomenon, Elder Neal A. Maxwell has written:
'First of all, the people of the world cannot presume to command God to provide them with signs. A person can neither be a disciple and command the Master nor can he require `perpetual renewal of absolute proof.` Some behave, however, as if they would set forth the conditions under which they will believe-complete with specifications; they then invite God to bid on their specifications! . . . Sign seekers, like adulterers, often do have a clear preference for repeated sensation. Those who do not understand why adultery is intrinsically wrong will also fail to understand why faith is a justified requirement laid upon us by God. We are to walk by faith and to overcome by faith (see "D&C 76:53D&C 76:53). . . . By contrast, the faithful, who are intellectually honest but are confronted with new and present challenges, sing of the Lord, `We've proved Him in days that are past.` . . . Those who are adulterous have also a strong preference for `now` rather than for eternity. Impatience and incontinence, quite naturally, team up.
'Such erring individuals or generations also have a strong preference for meeting the needs of `me` over attending to others, a lifestyle which speeds selfishness on its endless, empty journey.
'By making demands of God, the proud would attach conditions to their discipleship. But discipleship requires of us unconditional surrender to the Lord. Hence the proud neither understand nor really love God. Therefore they violate the first commandment by seeing God as a sign provider upon request; as a function, not a tutoring father.'" (Robert L. Millet, The Power of the Word: Saving Doctrines from the Book of Mormon, 51-52.)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Some sins cannot be separated; they are inseparably welded together. There never was a sign seeker who was not an adulterer, just as there never was an adulterer who was not also a liar. Once Lucifer gets a firm hold over one human weakness, he also applies his power to kindred weaknesses.
'"When I was preaching in Philadelphia,' the Prophet said, 'a Quaker called out for a sign. I told him to be still. After the sermon, he again asked for a sign. I told the congregation the man was an adulterer; that a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and that the Lord had said to me in a revelation, that any man who wanted a sign was an adulterous person. 'It is true,' cried one, 'for I caught him in the very act,' which the man afterwards confessed when he was baptized.' (Teachings, p. 278.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1: 278)
"The principle is as correct as the one that Jesus put forth in saying that he who seeketh a sign is an adulterous person; and that principle is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man." (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3: 385.)
Matt 12:40 Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly
Bible scholars have been critical of the story of Jonah, claiming that the story was too incredible to be true. Christ's reference to the incident gives credence to the story as it appears in our Old Testament. The following story is also interesting:
"In 1891, a whaling crew operating off the Falkland Islands was beset with difficulties. A whale, which emerged when a harpoon sunk into its flesh, turned on the small boat and capsized it. Three of the men who were overboard were unable to make it back to the mother vessel.
"Later that evening, the dying whale surfaced and was rigged to the side of the whaling ship. When the crew began the task of butchering it, one of the three missing men, James Bartley, was found inside the whale's stomach. He had survived in his mammalian undersea prison for 15 hours! The acidity of the whale's stomach had permanently bleached his skin and removed his hair, and he was almost blind. Unable to continue his chosen trade, Bartley turned to shoe making and remained a cobbler the rest of his life." (Lynn Rosenvall, "Joseph Smith's Influence on Mormon City Planning," Ensign, June 1974, 26)
Matt 12:40 so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth
Frequently, the Pharisees and even the disciples did not understand the meaning of Christ's words. But when Christ made reference to his death and resurrection, the Pharisees understood. After his Crucifixion, the chief priests and Pharisees came to Pilate requesting that his sepulcher be guarded, saying, 'Sir, we remember that the deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.' (Matt 27:62-64)
Matt 12:44 he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh ...seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in
This scripture describes what can happen to an individual who was once possessed with an evil spirit (but it can also refer to someone who was influenced by an evil spirit). Clearly, the evil spirit can return to possess (or tempt) the individual again. The individual must protect himself against another intruder by inviting the Spirit of God and putting on the armor of God. In this manner, when the evil spirit returns, he will find the house fenced, locked, and armed.
"The very body of a truly repentant soul is transformed into a spiritual temple wherein dwells the influence of the Holy Spirit. But that Spirit cannot dwell in an unclean house. (1 Cor. 3:16-17; Alma 7:21.) Therefore, should that temple become defiled by unrepented sins, the Spirit is forced to forsake it. It is a temple no longer; it is destroyed. (D&C 93:35.) If the offenses are grievous enough, the body that once housed the Spirit of God becomes the habitation of devils. (JST, Matt. 12:37-39.) To prevent such a tragedy, Ephesians ends with Paul's resounding call to 'put on the whole armour of God.' (Eph. 6:11.) The spiritual war that began in the premortal world continues to rage on earth. The enemy...and his cohorts are very real and very deadly. They must be faced and vanquished. Being spiritual enemies, they must be fought with spiritual weapons." (Robert L. Millet, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, 121.)
But when an evil spirit has once found a home, occasionally the owner becomes even more wicked after the evil spirit has left. The individual rejects all righteousness and holiness. Therefore when the evil spirit returns, he finds it empty of the Spirit of God, swept of all righteousness, and garnished as an invitation to evil. The Joseph Smith Translation teaches us that this is what happens to those who have committed the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (JST Matt 12:37-38).
"There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart, which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned. When once that light which was in them is taken from them, they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth. And they, Judas like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors. What nearer friend on earth, or in heaven, had Judas than the Savior? And his first object was to destroy Him." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 67.)
"We have met on the road a great many apostates. I do not want to say much about them. If they can be happy, all right. But they do not exhibit it. When a man deserts from the gospel, from the ordinances, from the priesthood and its authority, from the revelations of the Spirit of God, from the spirit of prophecy, from that sweet, calm influence that broods over the upright man in all his acts, he loses the blessing of God and falls back into error; and, as the scripture says, the last state of that man is worse than the first. (Compare Matthew 12:45.)" (The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, 334 - 335.)
Matt 12:45 even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation
This is a somber warning to the generation of Jews to whom Jesus taught. The implication is that they will be punished for rejecting Jesus, for 'a greater than Jonas is here' and 'behold, a greater than Solomon is here' (v. 41-42). In the analogy, those who were wicked in the days of Jonah or Solomon are likened to those who were possessed with evil, but the generation of Jews who crucified Christ are likened to those whose houses are possessed with 8 evil spirits. Hence, their last deed (killing Jesus) is worse than the first (wickedness in the days of Jonah or Solomon).
Matt 12:46-50 whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother
James E. Talmage
"The incident reminds one of the answer He made to His mother, when she and Joseph had found Him in the temple after their long and anxious search: 'How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?' In that business He was engaged when His mother and brethren desired to speak with Him as He sat amidst the crowd. The superior claims of His Father's work caused Him to let all minor matters wait. We are not justified in construing these remarks as evidence of disrespect, far less of filial and family disloyalty. Devotion, similar in kind at least, was expected by Him of the apostles, who were called to devote without reserve their time and talents to the ministry. The purpose on which the relatives of Jesus had come to see Him is not made known; we may infer, therefore, that it was of no great importance beyond the family circle." (Jesus the Christ: 254.)
Elder M. F. Cowley
"'Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.' Maybe you forsook your father and mother; maybe they turned their backs upon you. What if they did? You have come to this land and found fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, just as the Son of God said to His disciples. One came unto him and said, 'Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee;' and He asked, 'Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?' Answering the question himself, He pointed to His disciples and said, 'Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.' And have you not found it thus? What else can we say? Why this: that the man who forsakes his father and mother for the Gospel's sake has accepted something in the Gospel that will bring his father and mother, his sister and brother to him, and they will fulfill the words of the Prophet Obadiah that 'saviors shall come up on mount Zion.'" (Conference Report, October 1903, Open Air Meeting 97.)
"The Saviour's reply to the questions, 'Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?' is fraught with a principle that is very little noticed by many. I frequently hear the brethren, and you may hear both them and the sisters, in the prayer-meetings, where they have a privilege of speaking, say, 'I have not a father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first nor second cousin, nor any relative whatever in this Church.' Do you not hear such expressions made by the Saints?...I know a great man here who have no relatives in this Church...Sometimes wives leave their husbands, to come here; mothers also leave their children, and children their parents. Ask them,
'Where is your husband?'
'In England,' or in some other country.
'Have you any children?'
'Where are they?'
'They would not come with me.'
'Have you any brothers and sisters, or parents?'
'Yes, my father and mother are living.'
'Did they believe the Gospel?'
'Did your brothers and sisters believe it?'
'No, I am a lone person.'
"Such persons are apt to feel a spirit of despondency, to mourn and complain, 'O that I had a Father's house to go to; or if I had one person whom I could visit and call sister, how happy I should be; but I am a stranger here, I have no relatives in this kingdom.' Is that feeling correct or incorrect? I say that it is incorrect; such conclusions are not true. That man or woman that is a child of God, that honours his or her calling in the kingdom of God on the earth, is just as much your brother or sister as any person you have been accustomed to claim that relationship with. If you see a woman who lives her religion, who is owned of God, you see a person that is flesh of your flesh, blood of your blood, and bone of your bone, although she may have been born upon the opposite side of the earth from where you was born. Those who actually live the religion we profess, are as much your brothers and sisters as are those born of the same earthly parents. Jesus understood this, as we may learn from his expression, 'For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.'
"Let your hearts be at rest, for you have brothers and sisters here to visit; they are your connections, your relatives, your brethren and sisters." (Journal of Discourses, 4: 279 - 280.)