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Matthew 12:1-8

The Gospel Of Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Matthew 11:28–30 (NASB95)
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
We Studied Those Words of Jesus Last Week
Jesus was Offering the Jewish People of His Day Something Better Than What They Currently Had
They Were Exhausted and Burdened Under the Yoke of the Strict Traditions of Their Religious Authorities
But Jesus, as a Gentle and Humble Teacher and Master…
Offered Them a Good and Light Yoke to Carry
The Opportunity to Walk with God and Not Become Exhausted and Burdened
The Opportunity to Experience the Rest that a Relationship with God Provides
The Word “Rest” to the Jewish People was Always Connected to the Sabbath Day
The Sabbath Day is the 7th Day of the Week, When God Rested From His Work
In the Old Law, He Commanded His People to Imitate Him and Rest On the 7th Day
It was a Holy Day of Worship, Rest, Trusting in God to Provide
Today, We Take it for Granted that We Typically Get at Least One Day Off of Work
Most of Us Would Be Upset if Our Employer Decided to Take Away Our Weekends
But in the Ancient World, it was the Opposite
Most People Worked Everyday
Not Just Because that was What was Expected…
But Because, for Many People, that was the Only Way to Keep Food on the Table
But God Commanded His People to Be Holy/Different
Instead of Working Everyday, He Wanted His People to Take a Day Off
For Us that is an Easy Command to Keep
But for Them, this Took a Lot of Faith
“But God, if I Don’t Work, How Will I Feed My Family?”
God’s Answer was Always, “Trust Me, and I’ll Take Care of You”
The Sabbath was Always Meant to Be a Blessing, Not a Burden
This Idea Sums Up How Our Relationship with God was Always Meant to Be
“Stop Striving to Save Yourself, and Just Let Me Save You”
"Stop Burdening Yourself, and Just Let Me Give You Rest”
I Love the Gospel of Matthew
He Has Brilliantly Structured the Book so that it Flows So Well From Thought to Thought
Last Week We Saw the Burdensome Religion of the Pharisees…
And the Restful Relationship of Jesus
And Matthew Immediately Transitions to Jesus Dealing with the Burdensome Traditions of the Pharisees…
Concerning the Day of Rest

Matthew 12:1-8

Matthew 12:1 (NASB95)
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.
This Verse is Just Setting the Scene for What’s About to Happen
The Important Details are:
It’s the Sabbath Day
The Disciples Were Hungry
They Picked the Heads of Grain to Eat
Matthew 12:2 (NASB95)
But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.”
First, What Were the Disciples Doing that was Unlawful?
Was it Picking Grain in Someone Else’s Field?
No, This was Allowed According to the Law in Deuteronomy 23:25,
The Problem Wasn’t with What They Were Doing…
But When They Were Doing it
Let’s Talk About the Jewish View of the Sabbath for a Minute
Sabbath Keeping was One of the Most Important Markers of a Faithful Jew
It Pointed Back to God’s Creation of the World
It was a Sign of a Special Covenant Relationship with God
It Set Them Apart From All the Other Nations
It Foreshadowed the Eternal Rest They Awaited in Paradise with God
Under the Old Law, if Someone Rebelled Against Keeping the Sabbath…
They Were to Be Put to Death
So, it Wasn’t Just a Happy Suggestion By God, it was a Command
And When You Have Strong Commands Like That From God…
It’s Natural to Want to Take Extra Precautions So as Not to Break that Command
We Tend to Build Fences Around Sin, So that We Don’t Come Anywhere Close to Committing it
This is Wise When Done Individually
But Things Get Out of Hand When it Moves Beyond the Individual to the Collective
What I Mean is:
It’s Perfectly Fine for Me to Set Up Boundaries for Myself, to Keep Myself From Sin
But When I Start Setting Up Boundaries for You, I’ve Gone Too Far
When it Came to Sabbath Regulations, God Wasn’t Very Specific
God Didn’t Go Much Further Beyond, “Don’t Do Any Work On the Sabbath”
So Naturally, the Jews Would Ask, “What Exactly Constitutes Work?”
So They Began Coming Up with Their Own Answers to that Question
In the Mishnah (Collection of Jewish Oral Teachings)…
We Find 39 Areas of Work that They Explicitly Forbid On the Sabbath:
Binding Sheaves
Selecting the Good From the Bad Crops
Shearing Wool
Washing Wool
Beating Wool
Dying Wool
Spinning Wool
Weaving Wool
Making 2 Loops
Weaving 2 Threads
Separating 2 Threads
Sowing 2 Stitches
Tearing in Order to Sow 2 Stitches
Trapping a Deer
Slaughtering a Deer
Flaying a Deer
Salting a Deer
Curing its Hide
Scraping it
Cutting it Up
Writing 2 Letters
Erasing 2 Letters in Order to Write 2 Letters
Building Anything
Tearing Anything Down
Putting Out a Fire
Starting a Fire
Hitting with a Hammer
Transporting an Object From One Place to Another
And These Were Not Even All of the Sabbath-Keeping Traditions that They Bound On the People
These Kinds of Traditions Had No Basis in Scripture
The Mishnah Itself Even Stated That:
The laws of the Sabbath, festal offerings, and sacrilege— lo, they are like mountains hanging by a string, for they have little Scripture for many laws.
Though Their Sabbath Laws Were Mostly Man-Made Instead of God-Given…
They Considered Their Traditions as Binding as Law
They Took Them So Seriously That We Read in 1 Maccabees:
That Many Jews Were Slaughtered Because They Refused to Defend Themselves On the Sabbath Day
The Jews Took the Sabbath Day and Their Traditions Concerning it Very Seriously
So Getting Back to Our Text
What Was it Exactly that the Disciples Did that the Pharisees Accused Them of Breaking the Sabbath?
They Picked the Grain…
And (Luke Tells Us) Rubbed Them in Their Hands to Separate the Kernels From the Hulls
To the Pharisees, this Constituted Reaping and Threshing On the Sabbath
They Said this was “Not Lawful”
But Jesus is About to Remind Them of Something that was Truly “Not Lawful”
Matthew 12:3–4 (NASB95)
But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 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?
Jesus Begins By Saying, “Have You Not Read…?”
This is the 1st of Many Times He Will Ask the Religious Leaders of His Day this Question
Over and Over Jesus Points Out Their Neglect to Follow What the Scriptures Actually Say…
Because They are Too Concerned with Their Own Traditions
Jesus Reminds Them of the Time David Ate the Show Bread in the Tabernacle
According to the Law, Only the Priests Were Allowed to Eat this Bread
So David Did Something that was Against the Law of God
Now, There are 2 Ways that People Typically Interpret What Jesus is Saying
Jesus is Pointing Out the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees
“David Broke an Actual Law According to Scripture, But You Let Him Off Easy”
“But My Disciples Only Break Your Traditions and You Judge Them as Guilty”
I Don’t Really Like this Interpretation
Jesus is Pointing Out the Spirit of the Law
“It Wasn’t Lawful for David and His Men to Eat the Show Bread”
“But They Were Hungry and in Need of Food”
“And What’s More Important to God:”
“Keeping Proper Ritual/Law or Showing Compassion to the Needy?”
I Believe this is Jesus’ Point
Some Laws are Weightier Than Others
If Keeping the Law Causes You to Turn a Blind Eye to the Needy…
Then You’ve Missed the Whole Point of the Law
You’ve Kept the Letter of the Law, But You’ve Missed the Spirit of it
Instead of Judging Jesus’ Disciples, They Should Have Shown Compassion for the Hungry
Matthew 12:5 (NASB95)
“Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?
He Starts with that Same Question Again, “Have You Not Read?”
But This Time He Directs Them to the Law/Torah/Pentateuch
Under the Old Law, the Priests Were Required to Work On the Sabbath
Even Though They Didn’t Keep the Sabbath Regulations…
They Weren’t Guilty of Breaking the Sabbath
Under the Old Law, the Temple and the Work of the Temple Were Extremely Important
So Important that Even the Sabbath Laws Were Secondary to Them
The Work of the Temple Redeemed and Reconciled the People to God
Not Even the Sabbath Should Stop that From Taking Place
Knowing that Gives Jesus’ Words So Much Power
Matthew 12:6 (NASB95)
“But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.
The Temple was the Meeting Place of God and Man
But it was Only a Foreshadow of Jesus…
The True Meeting Place of God and Man
If Keeping the Sabbath is Less Important than the Duties of the Temple…
Then What About Something Greater Than the Temple?
Through Jesus and His Kingdom Work…
People are Truly Being Redeemed and Reconciled to God
Sin, Evil, Disease, Death and the Curse are Being Defeated
If the Old Temple Work was Important Enough to Break the Sabbath…
Then You Better Believe Jesus and the Work of His Kingdom are Important Enough
Matthew 12:7 (NASB95)
“But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.
This is Jesus’ 2nd Time Quoting this Passage From Hosea 6:6
This Verse Doesn’t Teach that God is Against His People Making Sacrificial Offerings
It Teaches that Sacrificial Offerings aren’t at the Top of His Priority List
He Desires for Us to Show Mercy/Compassion to Others…
More Than He Wants Us to Offer Sacrifices to Him
Showing Love, Grace, Compassion, and Kindness to Others…
Is More Important Than Getting the Rituals Right
And Besides That, The Sabbath Itself was Meant to Be a Mercy From God…
So that His People Could Experience Rest and Rejuvenation
But the Religious Leaders Had Turned it Into Another Duty From God
The Pharisees had Turned the Day of Rest into the Day of Exhausting and Burdensome Requirements
In Their Attempts to Keep the Letter of the Law…
They’d Completely Ignored and Forgotten the Spirit of it
We Should Strive to Keep Both the Letter and Spirit
But if Circumstances Pit the 2 Against Each Other…
It’s Better to Break the Letter in Order to Keep the Spirit
In Mark’s Account of this Passage, Jesus Said:
Mark 2:27 (NASB95)
Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was Given to Serve Us…
Not So We Would Serve it
Matthew 12:7 (NASB95)
“But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.
If the Pharisees Had Their Priorities in Line with God’s Priorities…
They Would Not Have Condemned the Innocent Disciples
They Were Doing Absolutely Nothing Wrong According to God
The Pharisees Simply Have the Wrong View of the Sabbath
Matthew 12:8 (NASB95)
“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
The Pharisees and Other Religious Leaders are Not Lord of the Sabbath
And the Sabbath is Not Lord Over God’s People
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath
Jesus has the Authority to Rightly Interpret the Sabbath
And Only He Has the Power and Authority to Offer Sabbath Rest to Those Who Submit to Him


Some of Y’all Aren’t Going to Like the Application I’m Going to Make Here…
But I Believe it is Absolutely True and Important to Understand
One of the Main Reasons the Pharisees Hated Jesus…
Was Due to the Fact that He Cared More About the Spirit of the Law Than the Letter
He Cared More About What the Law Meant, Than What it Said
We are to Be a Compassionate People
The Law was Supposed to Make God’s People More Compassionate
But Instead, People Became More Arrogant and Judgmental Toward Each Other
People Sought the Letter of the Law Without Consideration for the Spirit of the Law
While Abiding By the Letter of the Law, We Better Make Sure We are Also Abiding By the Spirit
But So Often We Get Distracted By the Trees and Miss the Forest
We Focus So Much On What the Law Says, that We Miss the True Meaning Behind it
I’ll Give Some Examples:
We Miss the Spirit of Christianity When:
We are More Concerned With How We Worship Than Who We Worship
Both Matter, But One is More Important than the Other
We are More Concerned With What We Must Do to Be Saved Than Who Saves Us
Both Matter, But One is More Important
We are More Concerned With if We Assemble Together than Why We Assemble Together
Both Matter, But One is More Important
We are More Concerned with the Person Who Raises Their Hands in Worship to God…
Than the Person Who Always Sits with Their Arms Crossed and a Frown On Their Face
We are More Concerned with the Person Whose Foot Came Up Out of the Water When Baptized…
Than the Person Who was Fully Immersed But Doesn’t Love Jesus
We are More Concerned When a Person Claps and Shouts Hallelujah in Celebration of a Baptism…
Than When People Don’t So Much as Even Speak to Their New Sibling in Christ
We are More Concerned When a Person Believes a Minor Error…
Than When a Person is Living in Error
Keeping the Letter of the Law is Important
But if We Do So at the Expense of Keeping the Spirit of the Law…
We’ve Missed the Forest for the Trees
We’ve Kept the Letter But Completely Missed the Spirit
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