March 27

Text: Matthew 12:1-2

At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grainfields, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.  But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Behold, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath." (NASB)

Jesus likely was walking from one village to another.  The paths between villages often followed the borders of fields.  He never went anywhere without a group following him.  He was then so popular that he also was followed by people who did not like him.  On this Sabbath that group included some Pharisees who wished to criticize and try to distract others.  They also would report to the sect of the Pharisees. “You would never believe what he dared do (or say) today!  He said (or did, or both) . . .”

It is bad enough to be followed by critics!  It is even worse for critics who are prejudiced against you to interpret all you do and say!  How wearisome it is to be misrepresented!

Note these things.  (1) The number one criticism (not the only criticism) the Pharisees had against Jesus involved what they considered to be Jesus’ violation of the Sabbath.  (2) By the accepted regulations of their day, the Pharisees were correct—Jesus did do things no one devoted to Judaism did on Sabbaths.  (3) Jesus challenged their thoughts and applications, not just their regulations.  No one—not even we—like that!  Everyone despises being challenged in an accepted conclusion!  The common reaction: “How dare that person . . .”   Typically, we emotionally react instead of evaluating with understanding.

God’s Law said that the Sabbath’s holiness was declared by refusing to work (Exodus 20:8-10).  Judaism long accepted that scripture was living.  Therefore scripture could be applied to changing conditions as time passed.  These applications were binding because scripture was binding.  To question or reject an application was to reject scripture.  One could obey the Sabbath law only if work was defined.

Basically, Jesus said that every application must reflect God’s intent instead of a religious/social concern.

Suggestion for reflection: Do your assumptions/applications reflect God’s values or your concerns?  (Read Leviticus 23:1-8.)

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