From Matthew 11-12
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
This is one of the passages where Jesus overrules part of the covenant law. Jesus changes the law, little by little to make it less necessary that Gentiles become Jews in order to worship and obey God.
12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 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? 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And 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 of the Sabbath.” (Mt 12:1–8)
In first-century Judaism rest meant, above all, observing the Sabbath—ceasing from all work on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. Sabbath observance was in fact one of the three most important and distinctive badges of Jewish life, along with circumcision and the dietary laws.
“If coming to Jesus provided rest for the whole of life, then it is not surprising that he should come into conflict with regulations that prevented various kinds of work on one specific day out of seven. At the very least, Jesus shows that he feels free to disregard the oral laws that had grown up around the Sabbath. But his words will suggest more than this (see comments under vv. 3–8), namely, that the Fourth Commandment itself is fulfilled in him and therefore need no longer be observed literally. The apostle Paul will make these conclusions more explicit in Col 2:16–17 and Rom 14:5–6.” (Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, pp. 195–196). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
I suggest this is part of what Paul meant when he says by ‘works of law’ no one will be justified in his sight (Rom 3.20). These laws no longer define what is righteous behaviour. Gentiles don’t have to observe them.
9 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. (Mt 12:9–14)
I think part of the problem Jesus was encountering was that in their attempt to observe and impose these laws on others they became a barrier to the good really needed in this world. Jesus heals the man despite the rule forbidding work on the sabbath.
Are there religious teachings today hindering or preventing us from doing good today?
Are we more obsessed with our own salvation that we neglect to see the needs of others? If you believe Jesus died for your sins, rose from the dead and is Christ and LORD. That’s good – your saved. Now get to work.
What we learn about Jesus is that he was not afraid to challenge the religion of the day in order to promote the well being of others.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.