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Paul 'yogi' Nipperess BMin

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Matthew 12:1-14 briefly ...
by Paul 'yogi' Nipperess BMin   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Posted: Tuesday, December 02, 2008

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Doctrinal brief on the Sabbath references in Mt 12:1-14


Doctrinal brief on the Sabbath references in Mt 12:1-14


In Mt12:2, Jesus and His Disciples were accused of violating the Sabbath, by the Jewish Law enforcers, the Pharisees.

Growing rejection of Jesus amongst Pharisees, who earlier had been friendly to Jesus, becomes more evident now.

Hostility of the Pharisees grew from the time, when Jesus forgave sins, in Mt 9:1-8 and the tension was increased by Jesus’ association with publicans and sinners (Mt 9-13).

This is the first of three incidents relating to the Sabbath, in which Jesus is accused of breaking the Mosaic law, Mt 12:2

In this opening incident, Matthew tells how the disciples, walked through the fields on the Sabbath, plucking ears of grain and eating them, because they were hungry. Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1-5 also recount the same  story.

Pharisees were keen to escalate the tension and accuse Jesus and His disciples of  breaking the Jewish Law, on the Sabbath.

Although the Pharisees could not accuse the disciples of stealing, as plucking a few ears of grain was permitted by Deuteronomy 23:25, they tried to enforced the law, forbidding  any work on the Sabbath (Ex 20:10). Jewish tradition was       very specific and equated plucking ears with reaping grain.      Such work was forbidden on the Sabbath, but Jesus ignored their petty rules about the Sabbath.

Although Jesus Himself had not taken any grain, He defended the actions of His disciples. First, He called attention to David’s experience, 1 Samuel 21:1-6.

David was hungry while fleeing from Saul and a priest gave him old bread taken off the table, when it was replaced with fresh bread, even though, such bread was reserved for priests alone.

Technically, this was breaking the law, but David was not condemned, as he was satisfying a hunger and that was   more important, than observing the Law to the letter.

Jesus mounted a second argument, derived from the priests in the temple, breaking the law, by performing their work on maintaining the sacrifices. In Mt 12:7, Jesus said, “ I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, bringing attention to the priests’ innocence.

In Mt12:8, Jesus final argument centres around Himself, as one person, who is greater than the temple. If Jesus, as Lord of the Sabbath could not condemn them, why should the merciless Pharisees be so critical?

On the same day, Jesus went into the synagogue and was confronted by a man with a paralyzed hand. The Pharisees seized this opportunity to question Jesus, about healing the man on the Sabbath. They asked “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days?” (12:10).

To defend His right to heal on the Sabbath, Jesus used this illustration:

If a sheep would fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, would the owner not lift it out? Was a man not better than a sheep? Jesus concluded, “Therefore, it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days” (Mt 12:12). With this introduction, He asked the man to stretch out his hand and it was immediately healed. 

This action, further infuriated the Pharisees, who were unable to compete with this miracle by Jesus. In frustration, the Pharisees then worked on a plan to kill Jesus.

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