Summary: When we read the Bible we need to understand what God is trying to tell us.
A Messiah of the Word
Text: Matt. 12:1-14
1. Illustration: A wife woke up one morning and said, “Honey, I just had a dream that you bought me a new gold necklace. What do you think it means?”“I don’t know, but Valentine’s Day is coming soon. Tuesday, you’ll know,” He replied. A few nights later, she again woke up after having a dream, “This time, I dreamed you gave me a pearl necklace. What do you think it means?” “You’ll know Tuesday,” He replied. The night before Valentine’s Day, she again woke up telling him about her dream, “This time I dreamed that you brought me a diamond necklace. What do you think it means?” “Honey, be patient. "You’ll know tonight." he said. That evening, the husband came home with a package and gave it to his wife. Delighted, she opened it--to find a book entitled, "The meaning of dreams."
2. There is something vastly more important than understanding our dreams; understanding God's Word!
3. When it comes to Scripture, Jesus wants us to focus on:
a. The Spirit of the Word
b. The Meaning of the Word
c. The Purpose of the Word
4. Read Matt. 12:1-14
Proposition: When we read the Bible we need to understand what God is trying to tell us.
Transition: The first thing we must do is...
I. Focus on the Spirit of the Word (1-2).
A. Your Disciples Are Breaking the Law
1. Our text today tells us that the spirit of the word is more important than the letter of the word. What is God trying to say to us?
2. Matthew tells us, "At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them."
a. "At about that time" links this text with the previous one where Jesus talked about the Pharisees yoke being too heavy and his being light and easy to bear.
b. The text that we are examining today shows just how right Jesus was about the Pharisees and their legalistic nit picking.
c. It was the Sabbath and they were hungry so they started to pick off some of the heads of grain and eat them.
d. It was a perfectly logical and legal thing to do, or so one might think.
e. The grainfields (probably either wheat or barley) must have been close to town since they are not criticized for exceeding a Sabbath day's journey, and since the Pharisees were close enough to see them do it (France, 457).
3. Matthew then tells us, "But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested..."
a. As these Pharisees well knew, a challenge to the behavior of the disciples was a challenge to the teacher who was responsible to train them in proper behavior.
b. When you get right down to it, the issue they had was not so much with what they were doing, but rather that these were Jesus disciples.
c. The Pharisees were like vultures waiting for a chance to pounce.
d. They were just waiting for Jesus to make a mistake.
4. They said, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”
a. They considered the breaking off of the heads of wheat to be harvesting, the rubbing off of the chaff as threshing and preparing a meal (Horton, 229).
b. These Pharisees provide a good example if one wants to keep the letter of the law; what they miss is the law's intention.
c. Moses explicitly forbade work on the Sabbath, and gleaning from another's field could certainly be regarded as work, as a form of "reaping" (Keener, 224).
d. Now if they are pulling a grain wagon behind them and they spend all day bringing in grain that's one thing, but all they are doing is getting a snack.
e. Whereas the law forbade preparing food on the Sabbath it certainly did not forbid eating it, and Jewish tradition prohibited fasting on the Sabbath.
f. Here Jesus is not a lawbreaker. Rather, that his opponents wish to kill him by the end of the narrative indicates their own unfaithfulness to the law (Keener, 224).
g. What they are missing is that the law intended to cause us to set aside one day a week and dedicate it to God. In other words, they are missing the point.
B. Spirit Not Letter
1. Illustration: One of my all-time favorite TV shows is All In the Family. I really love the way that Edith would go into these elaborate stories to try and explain a situation to Archie, and Archie would always say, "Get to the point Edith, get to the point!"
2. The Word was intended to instruct us, not restrict us.