Free Bible Commentary
“Matthew 12:1-14”Categories: 50 Days with Jesus
“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath. But He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’ Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’—so that they might accuse Him. And He said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand!’ He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.”
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In the verse preceding today's reading, Jesus said, "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:30). In chapter 12 we see the opposite to be true with the religious leaders of His day. The yoke and burden of the Pharisees was cumbersome and oppressive. The things that Jesus and His disciples did on the Sabbath Day did not defy the Law of Moses in any way, but violated the uninspired additions made by these self-righteous hypocrites. They added numerous regulations to the Law, and especially to the Sabbath Day commandment, in order to prevent anyone from even getting close to a violation. It was ultimately the showdown between the Pharisees and Jesus over the command to keep the Sabbath Day holy that led to their determination to destroy Him (verse 14). They simply couldn’t afford to have their influence threatened so greatly with this issue.
Jesus masterfully refuted the false position of the Pharisees in five ways:
1) They were inconsistent (verses 3-4). They had great reverence for King David who obviously did violate the Sabbath Day, but they were critical of Jesus and His disciples who did not.
2) They were illogical (verses 5-6). They recognized that the temple priests had every right to do what was forbidden for the ordinary person to do on the Sabbath. And yet Jesus was not only greater than the priests, He was greater than the temple itself.
3) They were ignorant (verses 7). They didn’t know the true meaning of the scripture that read, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). The God of all mercy did not forbid hungry people from eating on the Sabbath Day.
4) They were irreverent (verse 8). The Lord who instituted the Sabbath Day surely knew more about the regulations associated with it than the Pharisees did. Jesus would never violate a commandment that He himself made.
5) They were hypocrites (verses 9-13). The Pharisees criticized Jesus for coming to the aid of a human being on the Sabbath Day, when they themselves would admittedly help their own animal if it were in need on that day. People are more valuable than animals, no matter what our backward thinking world may say (verse 12).
Please read Matthew 13:1-33 for tomorrow – Jesus teaches with parables.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!