Matthew 12:14

ESV But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
NIV But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
NASB But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
CSB But the Pharisees went out and plotted against him, how they might kill him.
NLT Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.
KJV Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

What does Matthew 12:14 mean?

Yet another confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees ends with them walking out in frustration and defeat. Christ has revealed that their arrogant legalism, about whether it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath, misses the point of God's law. God desires mercy from them, not sacrifice (Matthew 12:7). Jesus' answer showed they were not concerned about the man they used for bait (Matthew 12:9–10). Their only goal was to find an accusation against Jesus.

The result of yet another thwarted trap did not change the minds of these hard-hearted men. Instead, it deepened their conspiracy against Him. They were desperate to destroy Him. The problem was that Israel's religious leaders had limited formal political power within the Roman empire. If they truly wanted Jesus dead, they would either need to have Him murdered, turn a mob against Him, or convince the Roman authorities that He was a revolutionary.

Why so much hatred? On a personal level, Jesus had called them out for failing to shepherd the people of God in a merciful way. He had embarrassed them in multiple exchanges. He openly challenged their authority. Officially, their complaint against Jesus was His claim to be the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God (John 19:7). Since they were sure this could not possibly true, it was a heresy that deserved death.

A more crucial question is why the Pharisees could not see Jesus for what He was. Instead of accepting that His miraculous power came from God, they decided that His power was from the devil (Matthew 12:24). Instead of seeing His works and teaching as a fulfillment of the Scriptures they knew so well (John 5:39–40), they saw Him as a threat to their power and status quo under the Roman rule.

In the previous chapter, Jesus thanked God the Father for hiding the truth from those who are wise and understanding, according to the world (Matthew 11:25). He likely had the Jewish religious leaders in mind.
What is the Gospel?
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