Jesus, The Lord of the Sabbath
September 11 – Jesus, The Lord of the Sabbath
Read Matthew 12:1-14
Growing up in a Christian household, I had at least some idea of what a Sabbath should look like. It meant getting dressed up, going to church, eating lunch at a restaurant, and going home to take a nap before going back to the church. The most emphasized part of the whole day always seemed to be the nap. Even now, my dad doesn’t ever do yard work on Sunday’s, or even wash the car, if he can help it. However right or wrong this idea of Sabbath is, it is the tradition in my parent’s house. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day had an idea of how the Sabbath should look as well. Their emphasis was on ceasing from work, at all costs. You could not walk too far, carry too much, cook, clean, mend clothes or even bathe. That legalistic mindset is what Jesus corrects in Matthew 12.
As Jesus and the disciples are walking through a grain field on the Sabbath, the Pharisees notice them picking and eating the grains as they passed. In their minds, this constituted work and was therefore unlawful. Later, Jesus heals a man’s hand, again to the ire of the Pharisees. In their own minds, Jesus and his disciples had violated a commandment that according to the law is punishable by death. But Jesus answers by pointing out that there are exceptions to the law that even the Pharisees respect, such as David and his men eating the temple bread (1 Samuel 21:1-6) and the priests doing their duties on the Sabbath (Leviticus 24:5-9). Jesus tells them to wake up and realize that the one who made the law was standing in front of them. God expects us to honor Him through His law, not dishonor Him because of it. The restrictions of the Sabbath had been “clarified” by the religious leaders of the time to the point that there was no room for God. Their own attempts to be holy had distorted the original intention of the law to the point that God no longer got the glory.
What do you think a Sabbath looks like?
Have you ever had to question your Sabbath practices?