I just love how Jesus always follows up talking about something by proving it.
- V1-8 – What a great story for chapter 12 to start on. He just offered relief from the Pharisee’s crazy rules to the people and then the Pharisees come and try to stick Him with one of their crazy rules. He shows everyone exactly why and how He can make their burden light. The rules were meant to draw people to God, not distract them from Him.
- V1 – My Study Bible says “The Pharisees had established 39 categories of actions forbidden on the Sabbath, based on interpretations of God’s law and Jewish custom.” (Emphasis my own.) Ai yai yai! It’s like everyone wanted to come up with a new way of interpreting the law and in the process they made it virtually impossible to follow the law.
- V2 – They are under constant scrutiny. To picture the Pharisees in their fancy (at least in the movies) get-up, tattling to Jesus when He can clearly see what His disciples are doing is laughable. They are so desperate to prove Him wrong, they’re missing everything He’s doing right.
◊ Is there someone I am extra critical towards? I’m going to make it a point to verbally notice the next 5 positive things they do before I point out anything they’ve done wrong.
- V3-5 – Jesus is pointing out, using Scriptures, that the law is not the end-all. There are allowances within it and it’s made to serve people, not the other way around.
- V6 – “Something greater than the temple is here.” The rules are about so much more than the law. Everything was set in place to point people to Christ. God established these rules to preserve a nomadic people group, then a settled nation through hundreds of generations in a time when whole nations were being wiped off the map. The Pharisees turned the law from something that was meant to preserve and serve them into something they had to serve at the expense of their own relationship with God.
◊ Is there any law or rule or habit that I follow, not because it draws me closer to Christ, but because it’s what I’ve always done? Or because I think that by doing that thing God will love me more? (It’s not true. Nothing I can do will make God love me more.)
- V6 – Here’s a good note from my Study Bible: “The Pharisees were so concerned about religious rituals that they missed the whole purpose of the Temple – to bring people to God. And because Jesus Christ is even greater than the Temple, how much better can He bring people to God. God is far more important than the created instruments of worship. If we become more concerned with the means of worship than with the One we worship, we will miss God even as we think we are worshiping Him.”
- V7 – This is the second time He’s hit them with this verse. (9:13) The first time He told them to go learn what it means, the second time He says they still don’t know what it means. It feels like He should’ve ended that sentence with “You dingdongs!” They’ve become prime examples of the foolish man who hears the Word of God but doesn’t do it. (7:26)
◊ Am I hearing and doing?
- V7 – Holy Smokes! Look how many times this phrase is in the Bible up to this point! (Plus the twice He’s mentioned it so far in Matthew.) I’m gonna say this concept is important for us to understand!! 1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 40:6-8, Isaiah 1:11-17, Jeremiah 7:21-23, Hosea 6:6
◊ Are there ways in which I value my “sacrifices” (good deeds, self-control, works, etc) to God above obedience to Him and showing love to His people?
- V8 – Jesus deals the winning debate point: As Creator of the Sabbath, I have the authority to interpret the Sabbath law.
- V9-10 – They follow Him into church and keep pestering Him. These guys would drive me bananas.
- V11-12 – The Pharisees are concerned with how things are supposed to be done and Jesus is concerned with the welfare of people.
◊ Do I criticize others for reaching out to people with Jesus’ love in unconventional ways? Am I missing opportunities to serve because I feel like I have to do it a certain way and I’m not thinking outside of the box?
- V13 – His actions demonstrate His authority and love. It’s interesting that, even though He proved His point about healing on the Sabbath, He healed the man in a way that surely couldn’t be considered work for either of them.
- V14 – How can people who had dedicated so much of their lives to knowing God be so misguided?! They didn’t care a whit for the people whose lives were being changed.
◊ What’s more important to me, to understand the intricacies of God and His law or to help people know His love and be made whole by Him?
- V15 – His time wasn’t up yet so He distanced Himself from the people who wanted to kill Him. (See 10:23) We don’t have to be on a mission for martyrdom. We’re supposed to spread the Good News to as many as we can.
- V16 – Those whose lives were being changed understood He was really the Messiah, but He asked them to keep it on the DL for purposes of crowd control and timing.
- V17 – Matthew is super consistent to point out the prophecies Jesus is fulfilling
◊ Am I consistently pointing people to evidence of Christ’s work in my life and theirs every chance I get?
- V18 – I like that God the Father makes sure we all know He is proud of His Son.
- V19 – This time He didn’t come as a conquering warrior, but as an inviter
- V20 – Instead of quashing those who are just barely hanging in there, He came to lift them up and make them whole.
- V21 – He’s here to open the gates of heaven to everyone. He is our hope.
- V18-21 – This prophecy doesn’t sound like a very kingly king. It fits perfectly with the upside-down kingdom Jesus is establishing though.
◊ Am I allowing Christ to work in my life in His ways and in His timing or am I frustrated when He doesn’t meet my expectations?
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?