Part of a weekly series on Matthew. This week: Matthew 12:1-8.
They made the same mistake when they accused Jesus and his disciples of plucking grain and eating it on a Sabbath.
Jesus, like he did when tempted by Satan, went to Scripture to demonstrate their hypocrisy.
He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?
In essence, Sabbath laws do not restrict deeds of necessity, service to God, worship or acts of compassion.
What was prohibited was work for the sake of profit.
Therefore a priest could perform his duties. A child weak with hunger could glean for food. A man with a withered hand could expect restoration.
In fact, refusal to do good on the Sabbath is tantamount to doing evil. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).
Sabbath laws should give way to means of religion. And means of religion should always give way to circumstances of mercy.
And if the Sabbath must give way to means of religion, should not both give way to the One who created them?
This Is the Man Who Created the Sabbath
Jesus then drives a stake in the ground: “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
A straightforward claim that he was indeed God. Messiah.
No man ever claimed to be lord of the Sabbath.
Not Moses. Nor David.
Keep in mind: he didn’t come to abolish the Sabbath.
He came to preside over it. To redeem it from the oppression of the religious. To undo the straps of the yoke. And to breathe an air of love and liberty into it not known until then.
This is why he said:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
As Messiah, Jesus’ campaign of liberation included the Sabbath. In fact, his intention was to bring a taste of our future eternal bliss to us by restoring the Sabbath to its natural state.
A little bit of heaven on earth.
So, when we turn the Sabbath into a theater of hurry or confusion or indulgence, we abuse it. Jesus’ design was that it would become a theater of saints at the feet of their Lord. At rest. At peace. At worship.
Let’s make sure we keep it that way.
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