Passage: Matthew 12:1-14
Intro: It’s hard for us to imagine the kind of conflict that trailed Jesus wherever He went.
1. hard for us, as non-Jewish people, to really understand the incredible grip that the OT Law had on people, and the radical departure from that view that Jesus brought.
2. we got a hint of it as we went thru the Sermon on the Mount, with the “you have heard it said, but I say to you” formula that Jesus used.
3. in this passage, which begins a long section of powerful resistance that ends with Jesus’ crucifixion, we will see exactly how wide this canyon of understanding is.
4. and it is significant for us today because the foundation issue is the nature and character of God, and two radically different views as to what that character is.
5. do we see this divide, even among believers today? Yes
6. so we need to sit and listen to the words of Jesus, and be instructed on this critical issue.
I. The Laws Original Purpose was to Restore Relationship.
1. it gives us some idea of the fishbowl Jesus lived in when we read vv1-2
Il) walking along minding their own business. (But on the Sabbath in Israel, your business was everybody’s business, and still is)
2. walking a taking a handful of grain not a problem.
PP Deuteronomy 23:25
3. but the problem came with the man- made laws that had sprung up over time.
4. 39 outlawed activities on the Sabbath, and “reaping” was one of them.
5. Pharisees watching Jesus like hawks, and now blame him (your disciples) for this clear breach of their rules.
6. but notice Jesus does not get into an argument with them over these details.
7. because their rules have come from a misunderstanding of the whole purpose of the Law
8. Jesus uses this story from life of David as an example
9. David and friends running from Saul, hungry, entered the tabernacle and were given the bread only for priests.
10. and another example, priests who work on the Sabbath.
11. these examples point out a principle that the Pharisees had lost sight of.
12. that the Law had the purpose of restoring relationship between God and man that had been broken by sin.
Il) Psalm 23 shows the view David had, also Psalm 51
13. and that the Law was a gracious revelation from our loving God to show us our sin in contrast to His perfect holiness, and fulfill His desire to forgive and have relationship restored.
PP Galatians 3:24-25 written by a former Pharisee who finally got it right!!
14. the God of the Pharisees was not a loving Father, but a stern taskmaster of expected much and forgave little.
15. Jesus (and the Law) expected us to be sinful and came to provide forgiveness at restoration to relationship.
PP Micah 6:8 (in context) “to walk humbly with…” RELATIONSHIP!!
II. Jesus Fulfills the Original Purpose
1. Jesus makes two amazing statements in vv6-7
2. “greater than the Temple”=the fulfillment of what the Temple pointed to.
3. so then, “I am Lord of the Sabbath.”=I created, I know its purpose, and I am the fulfillment of it.
4. The Temple and the Law are preparatory and temporary, to be fulfilled by the greatest revelation God could ever make.
5. God Himself in the flesh, the Lord of the Sabbath, comes to fulfill permanently what the Law and the Temple could only do temporarily.
PP Hebrews 7:27
6. standing with His disciples, grain speckling their beards, Jesus pronounces them innocent and Himself the Judge.
7. “The Son of Man is greater than Temple or Law, the Son of Man understands what God wants because He is God, the Lord of the Sabbath.”
Il) why the Temple veil was torn in two when Jesus died.
8. And it is very instructive to us that the Lord of the Sabbath, the giver of the Law, came to restore relationship, to show grace instead of to condemn.
PP John 3:16-17
9. this is not new. It is the original purpose of the Law fulfilled.
10. and Jesus takes back the power by which men had reinvented the Law and in doing so had perverted its relationship- restoring purpose.
11. now this was very different than the mess the Jews had made of it, and so it was going to be tested.
III. The Perfect Test Case
1. scene shifts to “their synagogue”, but the issue is the same.
2. is God one who would let a man suffer because of the Law, or is He a loving restorer/healer by nature.
3. which was more important; the strict keeping of Sabbath Law made by men, or the expression of love and mercy?
4. the trap was set, the purpose of the Pharisees was clear; they were looking to make a legal accusation.
5. real question is this: who cared about the man and who cared about the man- made rules and strict merciless adherence to those rules that would refuse to rescue a creature in trouble if it meant breaking their rules.
6. in the end, God cared about the man, which is consistent with the purpose of the Law.
7. this man was exhibiting the results of a world in sin; disease, dysfunction, the edges of sin and death.
8. and in a very clear statement of principle and purpose, Jesus says in v12 that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
9. Marks account adds a wonderful application that completes the picture.
PP Mark 2:27
10. listen to what Jesus is saying here!!
11. God’s purpose has always been relationship!
12. the Law was meant to restore relationship, Jesus came to restore relationship.
13. it was never about keeping rules so we could present ourselves as worthy to God.
14. it was always about God’s love and purpose to restore His children to Himself.
Conc. This is why legalism is so dangerous.
1. it paints God with those Pharisaical colors that are demanding and even cruel… how Satan paints God.
2. and it somehow presents man as able to please God if only he does it perfectly.
3. God’s whole revelation of Himself through the Bible and thru Jesus is of an infinitely holy God who desires that His children be restored to Him and whose every action pursues that goal.
4. don’t buy into Satan’s view, the worlds view of God.
5. God loves you, has provided the way for you to be restored to Him which is consistent with His revealed character of love and mercy.
6. embrace Him!