God’s Saving Word: Wisdom
Matthew 12:1-21: The religious leaders question Jesus about the Sabbath, and Jesus challenges their narrow interpretation of Sabbath observance. Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, and the religious leaders begin to make plans to kill Jesus. The passage concludes with a quote from Isaiah 42:1-4.
The Question about the Sabbath
12 Not long afterward Jesus was walking through some wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began to pick heads of wheat and eat the grain. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Jesus, “Look, it is against our Law for your disciples to do this on the Sabbath!”
3 Jesus answered, “Have you never read what David did that time when he and his men were hungry? 4 He went into the house of God, and he and his men ate the bread offered to God, even though it was against the Law for them to eat it—only the priests were allowed to eat that bread. 5 Or have you not read in the Law of Moses that every Sabbath the priests in the Temple actually break the Sabbath law, yet they are not guilty? 6 I tell you that there is something here greater than the Temple. 7 The scripture says, ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ If you really knew what this means, you would not condemn people who are not guilty; 8 for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
The Man with a Paralyzed Hand
9 Jesus left that place and went to a synagogue, 10 where there was a man who had a paralyzed hand. Some people were there who wanted to accuse Jesus of doing wrong, so they asked him, “Is it against our Law to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 Jesus answered, “What if one of you has a sheep and it falls into a deep hole on the Sabbath? Will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 And a human being is worth much more than a sheep! So then, our Law does allow us to help someone on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out, and it became well again, just like the other one. 14 Then the Pharisees left and made plans to kill Jesus.
God’s Chosen Servant
15 When Jesus heard about the plot against him, he went away from that place; and large crowds followed him. He healed all the sick 16 and gave them orders not to tell others about him. 17 He did this so as to make come true what God had said through the prophet Isaiah:
18 “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,
the one I love, and with whom I am pleased.
I will send my Spirit upon him,
and he will announce my judgment to the nations.
19 He will not argue or shout,
or make loud speeches in the streets.
20 He will not break off a bent reed,
nor put out a flickering lamp.
He will persist until he causes justice to triumph,
21 and on him all peoples will put their hope.”
Today’s Key Verse: Matthew 12:7,8
[Jesus said:] “The scripture says, ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ If you really knew what this means, you would not condemn people who are not guilty; for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
In verse 7, Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6. In stating this, Jesus challenges the way in which the religious leaders interpret Sabbath observance. And Psalm 51:16‒17 states: “You do not want sacrifices … you are not pleased with burnt offerings. My sacrifice is a humble spirit, O God.” In what ways can you offer a “sacrifice” of “a humble spirit” and demonstrate “kindness?” What is your response to Jesus’s broader interpretation of Sabbath observance? Reread verses 18-21. What is your understanding of these verses in relation to Jesus?
Dearest Jesus, you are Lord of the Sabbath and God’s Servant. Teach me to have a humble spirit and to be open to your teachings that I may be a channel for extending God’s Kingdom. Amen.
Matthew12:22-37: The religious leaders continue to challenge Jesus’s authority.