SECTION 5: THE CLAIMS OF THE KING
THE LORD OF THE SABBATH
A BIBLICAL HISTORY LESSON
Scripture To Consider:
“At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck the heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!'”
“But Jesus said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? But I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’” Matthew 12.1-8
Something To Consider:
The opposition to Jesus became most bitter and intense when He defended His disciples for having broken a minute traditional rule as to the observance of the day of rest. His followers had been guilty of appeasing their hunger by picking ears of ripened grain, an act which the Pharisees interpreted as breaking the law of the Sabbath.
In His reply, Jesus declared that this law, which is sacred and divine, can be broken to perform a work of necessity, as was done in the case of David, who in a time of physical need broke a law relative to temple worship. Furthermore, as Jesus reminded His enemies, the priests in the temple continually break the law of the Sabbath rest and are guiltless. The defense seemed to be complete, but Jesus startled His hearers by His adding, “But I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple”.
What more blasphemous utterance could be imagined? The temple to the Jewish mind embodied all that was most sacred in the life of the nation; yet Jesus declared of Himself that He was and is greater than all worship and symbols and laws of the house of God. Jesus even went further still and declared that He was and is Lord of the Sabbath. No wonder that such claims goaded His enemies to madness. There seemed to be no alternative. Either Jesus was and is a blasphemer, or He is divine.
More Scripture To Consider:
“Now when Jesus had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Jesus, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’, that they might accuse Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
“Then Jesus said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus how they might destroy Him. But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there; and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.”
“And Jesus warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘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 will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking flax He will not quench, till He send forth justice to victory. And in His name Gentiles will trust.” Matthew 12.9-21
Something Else To Consider:
While Jesus had answered the Pharisees, He had not made Himself liable to arrest, so they further observed Him to see whether He Himself would break the Sabbath law. There was in the synagogue, where Jesus has gone to worship, a poor cripple man whom Jesus healed. As He did, He explained the other ground on which the Sabbath rest may be broken. It is on the ground of mercy!
Jesus did not suggest that the law of Sabbath rest has been abolished. His own example would take us on the Sabbath day of rest to the house of God. It would show us that this day is divinely appointed for worship and for rest, but that the two possible grounds for breaking this rest are the works of necessity and mercy. His gracious healing of the cripple man on the Sabbath was regarded as involving work and so was looked upon as sin by the Jewish so-called religious leaders.
Such was the interpretation of Jesus’ enemies. His followers regarded it as a merciful demonstration of deity. In the minds of His enemies a choice must be made concerning Jesus. Therefore, the Pharisees went out, and took counsel against Him, how they might destroy Jesus. Nearly two thousand years later, individuals are being forced to decide for themselves whether Jesus is worthy of being destroyed or worthy of being worshipped.
Jesus, however, meekly withdrew Himself from the hatred and opposition of these so-called religious leaders. Meanwhile, Matthew declared that this was in fulfillment of the prediction which described the Messiah as One who would be meek and gentile, who would not strive, nor cry aloud. He would not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax. A time would come however, when He would appear in triumph and in victory. Even though His own nation might reject Him, the day would come when in His name the Gentiles would hope and would find Him to be the King of life.
Something More To Consider:
The recipients of Jesus’ biblical history lesson responded in two totally different ways. The Pharisees, or religious leaders of that day, attempted to trap Jesus in His words and to accuse Him and His disciples of unlawful actions on the Sabbath. And after Jesus paid little mind to their foolish accusations, He said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand.” And in obedience to Jesus’ command this unnamed man was healed of his infirmity.
Whenever a biblical history lesson is presented for instructional purposes, the faith of some is increased, encouraged, and enlarged. And according to Romans 10.17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Biblical history lessons are intended to create faith in the heart and mind of the hearer to become a doer of the Word of God and not a hearer only. The Pharisees became and for the most part, remained hearers only!
A Few Final Words:
As hearers only, these pharisaic religious leaders, according to Matthew 12.14, “…went out and took counsel against Jesus, how they might destroy Him.” Hearers only of the Word of God are never satisfied to merely take counsel against Jesus and His followers, but because they refuse to become doers of God’s Word, they seek to destroy Jesus and those who seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
The opposite response to the hearing of biblical history lessons is found in verse 15 of our Scripture to consider. Matthew declared, “When Jesus knew it [their desire to destroy Him] He withdrew from there; and great multitudes followed Him; and Jesus healed them all.” Hearing biblical history lessons can create faith enough to follow Jesus even in the midst of oppositional planning of persecution and the evil threat of death and destruction.
There is a tremendous world-wide growing opposition to Jesus, His end time followers, and to the vast majority of biblical lessons that some hold so dear. This end time promised and predicted by Jesus and by other biblical scribes, has reached the shores of this one-time great nation of America. This evil opposition is destined to become so strong and so widespread, that Jesus announced in Luke’s gospel chapter 18, in verse 8, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
The honest answer to Jesus’ question lies within each individual in every generation since Jesus asked the question. At the return of Jesus to establish His kingdom, will He find faith in us as true end time believers, or in those of our family of whom we may leave behind if we depart this earth in death before His return?
Let our answer be now and forever, yes, and Amen! May our prayer become, “Father, make us to be among the faithful few willing to enter in through the narrow gate of faith created by biblical history lessons.” In Jesus name!
Our Father in heaven, thank You for the many biblical history lessons that reveal Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath, King of kings, Lord of lords, and our soon returning conquering Savior. May we never take these written and preserved biblical history lessons for granted. May they lead us to the truth concerning You, Your Word, Jesus, who is the Word of God, Your Holy Spirit, and our being set free by the truth of Your living Word of God, Jesus. In Him Always, Amen!