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Journey Through Matthew: Working for the Weekend

Journey Through Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Legalism is but a means of justification for a continue life of sin. We rationalize our actions by our rules and avoid developing a true and meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. Only relationship will save us. No amout of church "rules" and "regulations" can cover it.

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Introduction

Good morning and welcome back!
It is good to see everyone this morning.
If you would like, start turning in your Bibles to .
This morning we are going to continue on our Journey Through Matthew and we will be looking at the subject of “Working for the Weekend.”
Which if you are old, like me you may remember that as a tile of a 1981 pop song.
And even though what we are to find Jesus doing here has absolutely nothing to do with that song, we are going to be talking about the Sabbath a bit.
Because, whether we like to admit it or not, we work and work all week long with pretty much one goal in mind.
That coveted weekend.
That time of rest.
That time when we get to “do our own thing.”
And one of the key aspects of the Sabbath itself is this aspect of rest.
God himself knew that we needed rest.
Which is why God gave us the Sabbath to begin with.
All the way back to Exodus, we see God instructing the Israelites about the Sabbath . . .
Exodus 20:8–11 NIV - Anglicised
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Which is based on God’s work Himself . . .
Genesis 2:3 NIV - Anglicised
3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Genesis 2:
So, we really don’t dispute the Sabbath, it’s necessity, or its benefit to us.
But one of our problem in our world today is the erosion of the Sabbath.
Our society has an expectation that we should be “on” all the time.
And before we do get into it, I do want to clarify that this message is not going to be about how we should do nothing on Sunday, because it is the “Sabbath day.”
I do believe that we should reserve time to worship God and to gather together.
In fact the Bible tells us . . .
Hebrews 10:25 NIV - Anglicised
25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
So, it is very, very important but we also need to be careful about how high in regard we do hold meeting together.
Because really what we are going to be looking at this morning are some of Jesus’ retaliation against some of the legalism of his day.
And if we want to get really technical and legalistic about it, the Bible says the seventh day is the Sabbath and Sunday is actually the first day of the week according to our calendar.
But, in our society we have accepted Sunday as the Sabbath.
However, the reality of our society is, people have to work different schedules and have different things they have to do.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when we CHOOSE to do things on our given Sabbath that are not needed, but there are also times when it is unavoidable.
And I point that out because this is really what Jesus is going to be talking about.
And in our passage Jesus is actually not going to be talking about “Working for the Weekend,” but rather “Working on the Weekend.”
So, if you have found in your Bible, I’d invite you to stand with me as we read.
Matthew writes . . .

Scripture Focus

Matthew 12:1–14 NIV - Anglicised
1 At that time Jesus went through the cornfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some ears of corn and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” 3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” 9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
Matthew 12:1-1

Picking on Sunday

So, to bring us up to speed here, Jesus is finally done with this long discourse we have been talking about for the last few weeks and he and his disciples move on.
And as they were moving about . . .
Matthew 12:1 NIV - Anglicised
1 At that time Jesus went through the cornfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some ears of corn and eat them.
The horror of it all!
Jesus’ disciples were hungry and they picked a few ears of corn to eat, on the SABBATH!
Now, for us we really don’t see the big deal here.
They had been working and witnessing all week long and didn’t really have time to spend all day the day before the Sabbath preparing food for the Sabbath so they would not have to work.
And even if they did have the time, they were not settled anywhere, they were moving about.
So, their options were limited.
So, what were they supposed to do? Go hungry?
In their mind, they were just doing what came naturally.
You are hungry, you see some food, it’s free for the taking, you eat it.
Not that big a deal, so we think . . .
However . . .
Matthew 12:2 NIV - Anglicised
2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
Unlawful?
It’s unlawful to find food on the Sabbath?
Well, according to the Pharisees, yes it was illegal to pick from the field on the Sabbath.
And the Pharisees are actually falling back on Scripture that we have already read . . .
Exodus 20:8–11 NIV - Anglicised
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
And the Pharisees interpretation of the disciples picking the corn, constituted “work.”
Even though the disciples didn’t think it was work, the Pharisees did.
And the problem here was that the Pharisees over time had become so obsessed with trying to remove any ability for anyone to disobey the law, that they actually took the law and added so much to it that it didn’t matter what a person did they could find a way to accuse them of breaking the law.
God gave Moses 10 commandments and then later in Leviticus expanded it a bit to actually help the people with the application of the Law, but under the Pharisees they exploded into volumes of rules and regulations.
And this whole thing about picking on the Sabbath was actually wrapped up in one of the technicalities of the Pharisees rule system.
Their rules went like this:
Plucking from the stem is considered reaping.
Rubbing the heads of wheat between their palms is threshing.
And, blowing away the chaff is considered winnowing.
So, according to them the disciples were reaping, which is a no-no on the Sabbath.
They were so locked into their legalism that they could not see the practicality of what the disciples were doing here.
And if we are not very careful we have a tendency to do the same thing.
I’ve not heard it so much here, but I have heard people actually say that people who have to work on Sunday, should find a different job so they wouldn’t have to work and they could go to church.
Well, if we want to say that, then we should all go home because I shouldn’t be up here today.
Also, don’t go to Walmart, the Chicken House, or McDonalds because you would be causing others to work.
And even driving here, isn’t that work?
And don’t get me wrong, again I am not saying that we should not try to reserve Sunday as our Sabbath, if possible, because that is the day that our society has adopted as a Sabbath.
But I am saying we shouldn’t be condemning people who have no choice but to work on our Sabbath.
But I am also saying though that we should all be taking a day to rest and a day to worship and reflect on God as well.
Which our society has made very difficult, I know, but we should be trying our best.
And the real reason is not so we can fill up the churches but there is actually a very practical reason why God instituted the Sabbath.
God knows we need rest and God built that in.
But Jesus confronts them here over their legalistic attitude toward, even the Sabbath.
First he says . . .
Matthew 12:3–4 NIV - Anglicised
3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.
And what Jesus is referring to here is a time when David and his men were fleeing from Saul.
Matthew 12:
They had been running and found sanctuary in one of the old temples.
And David knew that the priests kept bread that was consecrated and was only to be eaten by priests.
But he did ate it anyway.
And he did it because he had to. Not because he just wanted to, but because he had to.
And guess what, the priests didn’t say a word about it.
Not because he just wanted to, but because he had to.
So yes, sometimes we may have to break one of the “church rules” in order to actually do what is right according to God’s Law of Love.
And the difference is choose to disobey one of the Jewish rules, just because and the
So, that is the first example and now Jesus gives them a second by addressing the pastoral situation . .
And then Jesus goes on and really addresses the pastoral situation . . .
Matthew 12:5 NIV - Anglicised
5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?
Priests had to do work on the Sabbath.
Pastors have to do work on the Sabbath.
It is just the nature of it.
And according to Jesus, it is not a violation for the priest or the pastor to have to do work on the Sabbath.
And where we run into issues is when we want to get all judgmental and legalistic about things, but we are inconsistent as well.
And it is not just the Sabbath either.
It could actually apply to anything.
For every rule that we can come up with there is always going to be an exception to that rule.
So, what Jesus is trying to get across to them, and to us is that we had better check our judgmental attitude and legalism at the door.
Instead of relying on what we think, we need to be relying on what the Holy Spirit is actually saying and doing.

Healing on Sunday

And here is the kicker . . .
Matthew 12:6–8 NIV - Anglicised
6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
matthew 12:
Basically Jesus is saying if you really were in touch with God and really understood God’s will you would be merciful and wouldn’t tie such a yoke around the necks of others.
Particularly these who are actually innocent.
And to top it all off, they were trying to tell Jesus, the one remember who the Father had given authority over everything about the Sabbath.
And Jesus’s response . . .
Matthew 12:8 NIV - Anglicised
8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
It would be like us telling Jesus he is healing someone the wrong way or that he should save us from our sins a certain way.
They were so wrapped up in their legalistic traditions that they could not even see or understand the truth right in front of their face.

Healing on Sunday

But, they still were not done with Jesus . . .
Matthew 12:9–10 NIV - Anglicised
9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
Matthew 12:
What would we say to that?
Is it right for us to go the emergency room on Sunday?
After all we can’t do any work, right?
That’s what Jesus is asking them here.
And, then he explains their inconsistency to them . . .
Matthew 12:11–12 NIV - Anglicised
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Matthew 12:
The difference here being that the sheep fell into the pit, not that you put the sheep in the pit so you could get it out on the Sabbath.
But of course we would help our animal, and of course we would help another person.
So, to their horror . . .
Matthew 12:13 NIV - Anglicised
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
And the Pharisees still didn’t get it . . .
Matthew 12:14 NIV - Anglicised
14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

Altar Call

Altar Call

And the reason that they could not see the truth and instead of worshipping God they went out to try and kill Jesus was because they had no love or compassion for others.
Sin had hardened their heart to the point that they couldn’t see or understand the Great Commandment to love God with all we are and love others as ourselves.
To them it was all about the rules.
What about us this morning?
Where do we stand?
Are we judgmental of others who don’t do things the way we do?
They don’t follow the “rules?”
If we are, then we have an issue we need to work out with the Lord.
We don’t need to ask God to change that other person but rather we need to be seeking God to change our heart.
Or maybe you are here and the Holy Spirit has spoken to you about something else.
Shouldn’t you be obedient to the Spirit this morning?
The altar is open, what will you do with it today?
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