Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

Mathew 12:8-14 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  9 Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 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 bring charges against Him. 11 But 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? 12 How much more valuable then is a person than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 12: 8-14 tells us of the Pharisees continued effort to condemn Jesus. Earlier, they pressed him about his apostles picking the heads of grain to eat as they walked on the Sabbath. Now they question him as he heals a man on the Sabbath. Let’s consider why Matthew choose to write about this account. Was he showing us that Jesus was above the law, or is something else going on here? Why did he call himself Lord of the Sabbath? Let’s see what the Bible says about his motive in all of this.

I think Matthew’s purpose is to show the difference between the legalism of the Pharisees who exploited the law, and those who have a heart of service to God. Jesus had just said his burden is light, but the Pharisees used the law to make very heavy burdens as a way to impose their will. Jesus called himself Lord of the Sabbath as he responded to their misuse of the law. So, what was his point?

Some have suggested Jesus used the phrase Lord of the Sabbath to show that he is above the law. These verses could be understood this way. But consider the context. The Pharisees legalistic system of interpretation created a burden for God’s people. Now we see the Pharisees using the the law as a weapon against Jesus. Matthew tells us their purpose was, “…that they might bring charges against Him.” I don’t think Jesus was just saying he is above the law, but that he knows the law and sees through their self-serving application of it. The law was certainly not created for the Pharisees to use as a tool of submission.  It seems the Pharisees portrayed healing a man as work because they wanted to persecute Jesus. It was a self-serving interpretation of the Law. But was Jesus “working” on the Sabbath? Let’s look at what Jesus did and his motive.

Jesus was motivated by compassion for a man who needed healing. He was not motivated by the desire to finish a job (work,) which was forbidden on the Sabbath. To illustrate this he pointed out that the Pharisees would have no problem with a man rescuing a sheep who fell into a ditch on the Sabbath. Isn’t the point that Jesus knew law and was calling out the Pharisees who misinterpreted it out of malice. Doesn’t this make Jesus Lord of the Sabbath?

What are your thoughts?

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