Lord of the Sabbath: Matthew 12:3-8
“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.”Matthew‬ ‭12‬:‭3‬-‭8
As the accusations from the Pharisees fly, Jesus points out two examples from the Old Testament to establish His case and defend His innocence. First, he sighted David in 1 Samual 21:6 eating the consecrated bread. The future King of Israel in the linage of the Messiah was fleeing the jealous wrath of King Saul. A miracle of Divine provision and protection was unfolding. It involved extraordinary measures. Had David died the linage of the Messiah would have been cut off!
Second Jesus pointed to the fact that the priests break the Sabbath when performing their temple duties. Though not mentioned, He could have also pointed to Joshua marching around the city of Jericho seven times on the seventh day and then taking the city. (Joshua 6:15-16) He did it in keeping with Gods special command.
So what’s the point? There are holy exceptions recorded in the Bible to a strict interpretation of the Law. In each case God granted special exemption. The point Jesus was making was that God is greater than the Law He gave. He has authority over the Law. He has the authority to grant exceptions and there are records of Him doing that in the Old Testament, though they were rare occasions.
When you think about it, a miracle is God superseding the natural laws of physics. Because His is God, He has the authority to overcome the Laws that He Himself created. In Matthew 8-9 Jesus accumulated numerous stories of His authority over natural Laws. These stories pointed to His true identity.
So also, Jesus used this occasion in Matthew 12:8 to make a bold claim; “8) For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” In this context, He claimed to be greater than both the Temple and the Sabbath. Tragically, the Pharisees totally missed the significance of this whole dialogue.
Had the Pharisees connected the dots correctly, they would have discovered a profound claim to Deity. Instead, they ran down the path of condemning the innocent. Their box was to small. Their thinking was to narrow. They arrived at conclusions without weighing all of the evidence. They totally missed the significance of Who was standing in front of them.
Let me make a point, our traditions and theological bias often puts us in their sandals. We can become so critical or judgmental that we miss the beauty of what God is doing. Instead of listening to the message, we are offended because the speaker has long hair, is dressed in blue jeans and has a tattoo. Because we are so distracted by the outward, we miss the glorious story of the transforming power of the gospel! We are blind to the miracle.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global