Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath
Matthew 12:1-8, (1) At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. (2) And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” (3) But He (Jesus) said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: (4) How he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? (5) Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? (6) Yet I say to you that in this place there is ONE greater than the temple. (7) But if you had known what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless. (8) “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
In this story the Pharisees were quick to point out to Jesus what they thought was a violation of God’s Law concerning the Sabbath. Jesus in return asked them a series of questions before finalizing His questioning with a concluding statement, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Or in other words, Jesus was saying to them, “I established the Sabbath for Man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (My paraphrase of Mark 2:27) Jesus was pointing out to the Pharisees that everything about God’s Law including the Sabbath Day was put in place for the benefit of Man. He did not establish man to be governed by laws, but man was to fulfill the Law of God by extending Mercy to his fellow-man. Even though the Pharisees had read the Law, they did not understand the purpose for the law. The Law was never established to control the life of man as the Pharisees believed and taught, but God gave the law to man to point him to his need of a Savior so they could live the life God originally planned for them to live.
I think it is interesting that Jesus said, David entered the house of God and ate what had been set aside for the priests. To the Pharisees this was a despicable act and broke the Law, but David didn’t do this act because he had disrespect for the Law or the priest, but rather because he realized the Sabbath Day was for man and he was a hungry man and food is for the body. Therefore, he did not feel he was profaning the Sabbath by eating what had been set aside for the priests. And Jesus continued this line of thought with the statement, the priests who profaned the Sabbath were blameless. The Pharisees in their lack of understanding did not comprehend that just because the disciples of Jesus were plucking heads of grain to feed their empty stomach, they were not performing work on the Sabbath which was prohibited, they were doing something that even the Pharisees did on this day; and that was to feed their hungry bodies. My, how those who profess to be experts at the Law do not understand even the simplest things of God. They had never learned that God desires mercy more than sacrifice even though it is written in their Law, this lack of understanding eventually led them to place the Law above the Law Giver. And when this happens we begin to look for faults in people rather than extending mercy to the law-breaker. To better understand this idea, let us examine our own household rules that are in place to point our children toward obedience, not punishment, to guide them into a richer understanding of life and its values. Jesus in this very simple illustration pointed out to the Pharisees that following a set of rules does not equate to Godliness, but mercy to our fellow-man is what He desires. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our faults, He see’s us as a complete person made in His image, and He works towards bringing His image of us into our focus, so, we, too, can see what He see’s in us. If we can understand this simple precept, we can understand why the Lord made the day for man, and not man for the day. Man is so much more important to God than the day, and rules, and faults. We are a child of the King Himself. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being; everything else in life is secondary to that one central truth. Praise God! DThrash