The Sabbath was made for you
Matthew 12:1-21 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” 3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? 5 Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? 6 But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 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 accuse Him. 11 And 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 man 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.
15 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, 16 and warned them not to tell who He was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: 18 “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 “He will not quarrel, nor cry out; Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. 20 “A battered reed He will not break off, And a smoldering wick He will not put out, Until He leads justice to victory. 21 “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”
In today’s text Jesus is criticized, questioned and condemned for His activities on the Sabbath: “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.”… And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus response was: ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”… How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” In Mark 2:27 Jesus says: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Understanding that truth, that the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath, is critical to our understanding of how Jesus changed and changes the Sabbath. The Sabbath was established in a time when people literally had to work every day just to survive. God established the Sabbath as one day when people would rest from their work, not for the sake of pleasure or entertainment as many today do, but to rest and focus fully on God.
Jesus changes that. He says: “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus is of course also our Lord, He is the Lord of Lords. He is the Lord of all. In truth for us Jesus is more than Lord of the Sabbath, He is our Sabbath. In yesterday’s text, in Matthew 11:29 Jesus says: "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.” Jesus Himself gives us rest. Jesus, our Sabbath, God’s only begotten Son, came that we might be redeemed from sin and reconciled to God. You could say, the man Jesus was created for us, the Sabbath for man, that we could live with and for God. It is no longer a day set aside to God, but rather in Christ it is every day that is our Sabbath. Every day we rest in Him and live for God.
Jesus said: “So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” As we are yoked to Christ, our Sabbath, we do good, not of ourselves but through Him. Ephesians 2:8-10 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. We no longer need a day set apart for God because He abides with us and in us. The Holy Spirit is in us so we are always connected to God, whether at home or away, whether at work or at play, He is with us and we are with Him.
In today’s text, even when Jesus did good on the Sabbath some rejected and condemned Him: Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. We too will find that even as we work and walk, yoked to Christ, resting in Him, some will reject even the good we do. Some will prefer the laws and the regulations of man over the freedom of Christ. Others will prefer the lawlessness of the world to the righteousness and good works in and of Christ. In John 15:18-19 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” The world may reject, criticize and condemn us as we live for and with Christ. The world will try to convince us that it has the answers to our need for rest. It will try to lure us with pleasure, entertainment and slumber. Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27) The world cannot give us what we have in Christ. He is our peace, our rest, Jesus Himself is our Sabbath.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit in You I have peace and rest. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, when I am in You and Your will I have peace, comfort and rest. Thank You for my Sabbath rest in You. Amen.