Thursday, January 16, 2020

Matthew 12

Key Verse: Matthew 12:7
Big Idea: Jesus looks for an obedience that goes beyond the superficial.

When Jesus and His disciples were walking on the Sabbath day, the disciples reached out and picked some grain to eat. Although this was permitted under the Sabbath law (Deuteronomy 23:25), the oral law of Jesus’ day (an elaborate set of traditions that expanded on the Old Testament) forbade it. The Pharisees came to Jesus and challenged him about this, and His response is very interesting.

Rather than challenging the validity of the oral law directly, Jesus makes three comparisons. (1) King David broke the letter of the law by taking the shewbread from the Temple when he was on the run from King Saul, (2) the priests violated the Sabbath because their temple duties outweighed the prohibition of work on Saturday and (3) he explained that if they understood that God wanted mercy more than sacrifice, they would have not have condemned the disciples.

Implicit in these comparisons is Jesus’ superiority to (1) the temple, (2) the Sabbath and (3) King David. While people could experience God’s presence serving in the Temple, Jesus’ disciples were serving God come down in human flesh – the perfect temple, not build by human hands. Although the Sabbath  gave people a kind of rest from work, Jesus was the one who promised total, perfect rest from work – by being justified by faith in Christ alone, not in what we do. King David was a good ruler who united the people, but Jesus is the eternal King who reigns over all the earth.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were obsessed with obedience to the shadows and symbols, while missing the main thing. They were careful in their obedience to the specific instructions of the Bible while missing the nature of the very heart of God. God wants to transform us at the most fundamental level with His love, and seeking to satisfy Him with ritualistic observance misses the point entirely. He wants mercy, not sacrifice.

Discussion idea: Why was it easier for the Pharisees to keep hundreds of elaborate rules than to embrace the simplicity of a transformed heart?

Prayer focus: Pray for an awareness of the beauty of worshiping God in the person of Jesus, rather than at any physical building.

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