Sunday, June 25, 2023

A Study of Matthew Chapter 12:1-8

by Stan Feldsine (

Matthew 12:1-08 - Lord of the Sabbath

So far in our storyline, we have learned that John the Baptist and Jesus had come to proclaim the Messianic Kingdom, exhorting the Jewish people to repent and get ready for the establishment of the character and standards of the Kingdom. Healings and miracles validated His authority and divinity but He was reviled because of His rejection of the Oral Law and His claims of divinity. The conflict between the Pharisees and Jesus comes to a climax in Chapter 12 of Matthew over the issue of the Sabbath. (Exo 20:9-11). In typical Pharisaical fashion the idea of a day of rest and reflection turned into a restrictive system of rules and regulations in the Oral Law to the point of absurdity.

It is reported by Josephus the Historian that 1,000 Jews died in the Macabeean revolt because the the attack happened on a Sabbath day and the Jews would not close gates to the outside or fight back because of the belief that these things were considered work and against the Sabbath law. In this case, the Pharisees were accusing the disciples of breaking the Oral Law regarding "work" on the Sabbath (picking heads of grain). Jesus pushed back on the Pharisaical tradition by pointing out that David had been involved in a similar situation to that of the disciples. Like David's men, the disciples were also hungry, and while Oral Law restricted them from picking grain on the Sabbath, the spirit of the law allowed for it.

In David's case, the consecrated bread was intended for the priests, not the army. However the army itself was consecrated, being on a mission from the King. The priest saw no issue with the consecrated army eating the consecrated bread. In a similar fashion, Jesus' disciples were serving the Kingdom, and thus "consecrated". If David, who was not yet king had the right to feed his army the consecrated bread then Jesus had the right to allow His disciples to gather and eat the grain. The lesson here is that the law regarding the Sabbath was not to be followed legalistically in a rigid fashion, but it was for the benefit of man.

Jesus again uses Hos 6:6 to rebuke the Pharisees about their lack of understanding of the Mosaic law. When Jesus told the Pharisees to "go and learn", he referred them to (Hos 6:6). In Hosea's day, as in Jesus's day, the apostate religious leaders had gone far away from the heart of scripture which taught them about having a merciful attitude towards others, I.E. the Mosaic Law. Instead, they dug themselves into ritual and external practice of the law, rather than experiencing a "circumcision of heart", I.E. the Oral Law.

Jesus again refers to Himself as "Son of Man", which describes Jesus in Messianic terms. The "Son of Man" is Jesus, the coming King (Dan 7:13-14, Mat 24:27-31).

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