Text: Matthew 12:1- 21
Theme: Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath.
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath because he is God himself. He is greater than the temple and the day being observed as holy. God made the day for the benefit of Man not to man’s injury. However, the leaders of the synagogue turns it into a legalistic ritual. In verse 1 Jesus’ disciples were hungry on the Sabbath day. At this corn farm they could not resist the hunger so they plucked some ears of corn to eat. This shows that even Jesus and his disciples could hardly provide for their basic needs. Hence, the hunger on the Sabbath.
Jesus never violated the law of the Sabbath neither did he encourage his disciples to do so. He only broke men’s legalistic additions to that law. By pointing out what David did, Jesus reminded them that human need is more important than observing ceremonial rituals. Quoting from Hosea 6:6, Jesus shows that where two laws seem to be clashing, a higher law must uphold. So he said to them ‘if you know what this means…you will not have condemned the guiltless.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings Hosea 6:6
It is obvious that God prefers being compassionate and merciful than offering any amount of sacrifice or worship to him. The pharisees were not concerned about the hunger of Jesus’ disciples instead they were quick to count the laws they have violated. Sadly, this is the kind of behaviour we put on even as Christians today. We are careful to note what a brother or sister has done wrong more than we care about what they are passing through at the moment.
Jesus goes further to buttress his point as the Lord of the Sabbath by healing a man with the withered hand. Surprisingly the Jews could not see the display of compassion, wisdom and power rather they condemned him. More so, this chapter progressively shows the increasing opposition against Jesus. Hence, Jesus withdraws from public ministry for a time. Not out of fear but in humble submission to God’s perfect timing.
Moreover, verses 15 to 21 gives a clear description of Jesus as God’s chosen servant. Even now he sits in heaven interceding on our behalf.
Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles…a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory (Matthew 12:18 -20)
This is the description of our master. Becoming like him should be our goal. We must put on humility, compassion justice and mercy. God values these above all sacrifices and offerings.