Date written: February 24th, 2007
Scripture ref: Matthew 12:1-8
TITLE: Lord of the Sabbath
PROPOSITION: In this lesson we will study Matthew 12:1-8 specifically that in this passage, we have an 1) Insufficiency, 2) Indictment, 3) Implication, 4) Identity.
OBJECTIVE: To be familiar with Matthew 12:1-8 and the teaching of Jesus in this passage regarding His identity.
1. Read: Matthew 12:1-8
2. About the Text:
1) We find in this text a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees.
2) They were frequently seeking to confound Jesus and his disciples of breaking the Sabbath.
3) They sought to do so, so that they could put Jesus to death for so was the penalty for doing work on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14-15).
4) Here they accuse Jesus' disciples of violating the Sabbath rules regarding work and specifically, harvest.
5) Let's study this passage together.
3. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.
DISCUSSION: In this passage we have . . .
I. An Insufficiency
1. Put simply, the disciples were hungry.
1) Many of Jesus disciples were poor and had little money.
2) It was permitted in the law that they could eat from the corners of the fields.
3) Leviticus 19:9-10 states, "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather the fallen fruit of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am Jehovah your God."
2. But it was the Sabbath day.
1) Moses forbade working on the Sabbath upon penalty of death.
2) Exodus 31:14-15 states, "Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that profaneth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to Jehovah; whosoever doeth any work on the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death."
3) It was clearly contrary to the law of Moses to work on the Sabbath.
4) Eating was certainly not forbidden on the Sabbath.
5) So was what they were doing considered "work?"
a. They were plucking the grain.
b. And they were eating it.
c. Was it work?
6) The law didn't specifically address their situation.
3. We learn that God has a great desire to care for the poor. Deuteronomy 15:11 "For the poor will never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt surely open thy hand unto thy brother, to thy needy, and to thy poor, in thy land."
1. The Pharisees saw what the disciples were doing and condemned it.
2. They accused directly.
3. They said, "Your disciples do that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath."
4. It was definitely unlawful to harvest on the Sabbath.
1) When the children of Israel were fed with manna, they received no blessing on the Sabbath.
2) They were expected to harvest for two days on the 6th day.
3) Exodus 16:29 says, "See, for that Jehovah hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."
5. This was, however, a special situation where God was directly giving bread to people who were living in tents.
1) This didn't cover the situation where the poor had no homes.
2) This didn't cover the situation where the poor were wandering through a field, homeless, on the Sabbath.
3) This didn't cover the situation where the poor were caught traveling on the road on the Sabbath.
4) This didn't cover the situation where the poor had nothing to eat.
6. How did the Pharisees know that God would disapprove of this situation?
7. They assumed they knew God, but they didn't know him.
1) The lesson to us is that we need to know who God is to apply His word appropriately to our lives.
2) John 1:18 tells us that Jesus came to reveal to us who God is.
1. In defense of the disciples, Jesus sets forth three implications.
2. First, the Pharisees did not condemn David when he ate the showbread.
1) The showbread of the temple was for the priests alone.
2) Exodus 24:9 "And it shall be for Aaron and his sons; and they shall eat it in a holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of Jehovah made by fire by a perpetual statute."
3) David unlawfully ate this showbread (1 Samuel 21:3-6).
4) Yet, the Pharisees held David to be their hero.
5) The implication was they were inconsistent and partial in their application of the Mosaic law.
3. Second, the priests themselves worked on the Sabbath and were not condemned.
1) There were special sacrifices that had to be made on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9-10).
2) Obviously the prohibition to work on the Sabbath did not apply to the priests and their service to God.
3) If the priests were allowed to work on the Sabbath to perform the service of God, then could not Jesus and his disciples eat a small meal in God's service as well?
4) The implication was that not all work was forbidden on the Sabbath.
4. Third, Jesus tells them that they didn't know the meaning of Hosea 6:6.
1) Hosea 6:6 states, "For I desire goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings."
2) The Pharisees were all wrapped up in the letter of the law so that they could not see the mercy of God through the law.
3) They had forgotten that God takes care of the poor and that God is merciful to those who are in need.
4) In another place, Matthew 23:23, Jesus said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone."
5) The implication was that the Pharisees didn't have mercy in their lives.
5. We learn that even when we are guilty of sin, God can be merciful to us and not exact the full punishment required. David wrote, " He hath not dealt with us after our sins, Nor rewarded us after our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is his lovingkindness toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, So Jehovah pitieth them that fear him" (Psalm 103:10-13).
1. Finally, Jesus sets forth his identity and the bottom line.
2. Jesus was greater than the temple; Jesus was the Lord of the Sabbath.
3. By setting forth that Jesus was greater than the temple, He was claiming divinity.
1) The only one greater than the temple was the One who dwelled in it (Matthew 23:21).
2) And if there were anyone who knew the meaning of the laws of the Sabbath, it was the author.
3) Jesus knew what was and wasn't permitted on the Sabbath because He was the one who wrote the law!
4) We know that the disciples had not done anything wrong because Jesus said that they were guiltless (verse 7).
5) It was the Pharisees who didn't know the law as well as they thought.
4. In Mark 2:27 Jesus tells us the true purpose of the Sabbath. "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:"
1) The Pharisees had so distorted God's word that the Sabbath became a burden for man when it was supposed to be a relief.
2) Jesus knew the true purpose and so defended the disciples against a baseless accusation.
5. We learn that God cares for His people. 1 Peter 5:7 says, "casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you."
1. In this passage we find . . .
1) An insufficiency - God cares for the poor.
2) An indictment - Let us know God so as not to improperly indict.
3) An implication - God can be merciful even when one has sinned.
4) An identity - Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.