The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath...
This summer, we'll seek to understand Jesus' life and teachings by reading through the gospel of Matthew, complementing the teaching team's focus in their “Jesus Said” series. One of the most profound truths of Christianity is that Jesus was and is God. In order to know God, we can look at Jesus, for, as Paul wrote in Colossians, Jesus is "the image of the invisible God."
Read Matthew 12:1-14
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."
He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven't you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
The legalistic Pharisees were out to trap Jesus however they could, and any perceived infraction of their own Sabbath rules was a favorite area of criticism. Refusing to be intimidated by their self-serving accusations, Jesus turned the issue around to the real purpose of the Sabbath and pulled back the curtain to reveal the hypocrisy of their arguments.
Father, help me not to allow a legalistic attitude to get in the way of reaching out in compassion to others or to twist the truth to advance my own selfish agenda. Amen.