Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 47
Matthew:12:1-14 Lord of the Sabbath
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:11:25-30 Rest for the Weary
What is God doing?
"I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple"
I think that we all have a good sense of what is going on here regarding the disciples picking corns of wheat to eat on Sabbath and the Pharisees reaction to it. What is interesting though is Jesus' summation of the argument.
In God's long history with Israel HE has placed several significant articles in front of them such as the temple, the ark, the law, many of the oral traditions, kings and prophets, great deliverances, impossible victories, pillars by night and clouds by day and miraculous provision sustaining, the very nation itself. HE has worked through each of these things at several initial and restorative points to move them towards their eventual acceptance of Christ. HE has worked through Israel by means of these towards the other nations to the same ends and continues to this day to do so. Jesus however is not just another of these significant articles, He is the the very thing all of these articles are pointing towards.
What is man doing?
"If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless".
It is obvious that the Pharisees are making more of these articles than they are making of Jesus. Therefore, the argument could easily be made that they are making more of these things than they are making of God. The articles in fact have replaced God. How can we say this? Because God has placed something more significant before them than all these articles combined.
Now does that mean that these articles have been done away with? Certainly not. Jesus would be the first (and has been) to admit to this. As with all things however, it is not the articles themselves that stand in the way, but the intentions men place behind those articles that get sticky and alters the form of worship all together. Certainly this about much more than simple Sabbath observances. God's stated intention is for mercy. If the rigid legality of Sabbath (which in most common cases is perfectly fine) impedes the ability to perform mercy obviously one's understanding and intention of obeying Sabbath has become corrupted.
What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
Not everything can be used as an excuse not to obey Sabbath; only true verifiable mercy. Football games cannot be declared to be mercy, not even the Super Bowl. Fifty percent off days at Lane Bryant cannot be considered mercy. The brief grazing of road weary and hungered disciples of Christ heading through the fields to the next town ahead, yes, mercy. The saving of a lost soul even if it means driving over there and helping him change worn brake pads during the conversation, yes, mercy. Going out to eat so you don't have to cook, no.
"Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him"
This is not a council gathered to hear the facts, to reassess the official stance given this profound teaching of their on Sabbath or to whom their worship is actually being performed. This is as stated a council beginning from the assumption of all being in favor of doing away with Jesus ending in how best they decide for that task to be accomplished. It is not a conference on how to argue with Jesus convincingly in ten quick steps, it is to put Jesus down once and for all so that He is of no effect. Something other than what they worship has been placed before them; this is how they mutually have chosen to deal with that.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
"Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days"
Notice the turn of the phrase lawful. According to the Pharisees it's apparently not. What about according to us saints? If not what is lawful on that day? Apparently it is lawful to convene a council to destroy a scripture savvy man whose is near impossible to argue key points of scripture with and his recently empowered demon casting out followers (sure that is legal on any day). On the scale of mercy which side is more just: corn of wheat/council to destroy?
So often we get so tied up in our observance of the articles of God that we neglect the one thing greater than these articles: the God to whom our observance is to praise and reflect. The article itself becomes the object/intent of our worship. How many temples have we built for God that end up hollow and that God is far from because of this? How many laws and legalities have we caged ourselves in and imposed on others that angels look upon and are sickened over? These things, all of them important/significant to the faith, but not the one genuine article themselves; so easily side tracked and sidelined.
Consider what Israel had already been told about itself:
Some people would see this as an end to sacrifice and new moons and Sabbaths and such. Rather we should see it as a call to true sincere heart felt living worship to God through the proper respect and intent for these many marvelous articles HE has given us. The rule above all rules (not in place of) is mercy: God's call to like similar.
Next: devotion:Matthew:12:15-21 God 's Chosen Servant