Lord of the Sabbath – Matthew 12

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” (Exodus 20:8 NIV) When God created the heavens and the earth, He did it in six days and then rested on the seventh, so He commanded the Jews to do so as well.  But the Jewish religious leaders had gone so far as to say how far a person could walk, how much they could carry, exactly what they could and could not do. It became overwhelming. But Jesus had a different way, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8 NIV)

The disciples got hungry as they were walking so they picked some heads of grain from the field through which they passed. The Pharisees were shocked; they considered this work, and forbidden on the Sabbath. So they confronted Jesus. I remember Sunday dinners growing up; we’d come home from church with the amazing aromas of roast beef ready to be eaten. I thought my mom must have slaved for hours to make those delicious meals. Then I got a family of my own and realized that those meals took the least preparation of almost anything because she put it all in the pan and into the oven and it did all the work. Planning ahead and shopping were almost the hardest part. She still did the “work” of feeding her family but honored God by making it easy. The disciples were not harvesting the entire field; they just picked a few heads of grain to munch on to tie them over until a meal was ready. That was not sin, and Jesus pointed that out to the Pharisees.

Then the Pharisees thought they’d catch Jesus. There was a man with a paralyzed hand in the synagogue. They questioned Jesus about healing on the Sabbath; they were looking to trap Him. So Jesus asked them a question, “If one of your sheep fell into a pit on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you pull it out?” Then he showed them that a man is worth far more than a sheep, and healed the man’s hand, saying, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath!” (Matthew 12:12 NIV)

We seem to get caught up in all of our rules and forget that Jesus gave us only three: Love the Lord your God; Love your neighbor as yourself; and Love one another as I have loved you. Love is His command to us. If we love God, we’ll honor Him with our actions, even on the Lord’s Day. If we love our neighbors, kindness will flow automatically. If we love each other within the Church, others will be drawn to believe in Christ. So let’s follow Christ’s example and love.

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