Lord of the Sabbath

We’re going through the New Testament and looking for Trinitarian passages and hitting a few highlights. Right now, we’re in the gospel of Matthew and looking at Jesus as he was seen by those around him and how he saw himself. Tonight, our passage comes from Matthew 12.

 1At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” 3He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Mark 2 has a similar passage

 23One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 25He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

 27Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

And so does Luke 6:

1One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 3Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?4He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Matthew 12 is the most interesting one though.  Jesus explains how David and his men ate the bread that was according to the law, meant only for the priest. However, there was a greater good that was to be met by giving the bread to David. 

Jesus also says that the priests break the Sabbath on the Sabbath but are without blame. The reference from Hosea tells us that God is more interested in the condition of the heart than in the outward motions of the law.

Two points are also brought out in this exchange.

First, Jesus speaks of the temple and says that one greater than the temple is here. Don’t skip that over. The temple was where the presence of God dwelt with his people and Jesus is talking about that temple and says one greater than that is here.

This is the presence of God dwelling bodily.

He also says that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. We must keep this in mind. The Lord of the Sabbath is one who has power over the Sabbath, but who instituted the Sabbath? Why it was God of course, and here is Jesus claiming to be Lord of the Sabbath.

Dare we not miss the implication to be drawn from that.

Jesus has the authority over the Law of Moses. He can speak about it because he was the one who gave it. It is the supreme irony that the Moses are accusing the disciples of breaking the Law to the one who gave them the Law to begin with.

Tomorrow, we shall see more of Jesus’s interactions with the Pharisees.

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