Matthew 12:1-8 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?He 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. Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.
I wonder how these Pharisees always happened to catch Jesus doing things they could label as wrong. I can imagine them huddling together early each morning outside the synagogue, getting their assignments, then scattering throughout the city to catch Jesus doing something they could use against Him. From this story we can gather that they even followed Him around on the Sabbath. Hmmm. I wonder which Sabbath laws they were breaking.
I’m amazed when I realize that Jesus never ran from them. He never tried to conceal either His whereabouts or His activities. He even blatantly broke the Sabbath traditions several times though He knew the Pharisees were watching, ready to criticize Him.
Jesus saw past their religious traditions. He saw past their obsession with keeping every tiny rule that they had added to God’s perfect Law. He saw past their efforts to please God by their own religiosity rather than by placing their faith in God’s promise of Messiah. He saw past their actions deep into their hearts.
So Jesus reminded them: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27-28 NIV)
Jesus reminded the Pharisees that true religion is not the keeping of rules. And He reminded them that He, not their rules, was Lord over the Sabbath. But they were focused so intently on their Law that they couldn’t see the fulfillment of God’s Law standing right in front of them.
Jesus preferred people over piety, repentance over rules. Jesus met needs by crossing all kinds of boundaries-including the Jewish religious traditions. Jesus observed the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship and doing good, not as a day of pinched-up-purse-string regulations.
Sabbath. Loving the Lord. Loving each other. Resting. Ministering. Meeting needs. Expressing gratitude to God. Focusing on Him. Listening for His voice.
Dear Father, Help me to worship You alone, and not man-made laws.