TEXT: Matthew 12:1-8:
1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Work done for God on the Sabbath is no real profanation of the Sabbath, though it may seem to be so to those whose religion lies wholly in external observances. If we work with Jesus, and for Jesus, we care not for the criticisms of formalists. As the substance is greater than the shadow, so is our Lord greater than the temple, or any or all ceremonial laws; and his sanction overrules all the interpretations of the law which asceticism or superstition may thrust upon us.”
In our last series of messages, we looked at Jesus’ invitation to throw off the heavy yoke of trying to live up to the law in our own power and the burden of sin and find rest and peace for our souls in Him. Now we move on into chapter 12 of the Gospel of Matthew, but this theme of finding rest, in regards to resting on the Sabbath day, continues in this sermon.
Our passage for this series of messages centers arounds one of God’s laws, which is that of keeping the Sabbath. Like all of God’s laws, the law to keep the Sabbath is for our good and should be obeyed. But like with all of God’s laws, there are legalistic religious people who try to twist God’s laws into something they are not. In this passage, we see what happens when the erroneous Pharisaical view of the Sabbath is confronted by the true meaning of the Sabbath, as dictated by Jesus, who is Lord of the Sabbath.
The first thing we see in this passage is the Pharisees’ accusations against Jesus’ disciples. Matthew 12:1-2 says, “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.” The Pharisees accused the disciples of breaking the Sabbath by picking some food from the fields to eat. The Pharisees had a Biblical basis for what they accused the disciples.The Bible says in Exodus 34:21, “Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.” So even if a farmer’s crops were ready to be harvested, it would have been against the law to go and reap the field. But the disciples were not doing any work. They were simply feeding themselves. They didn’t break God’s law, but the man-made law of the Pharisees.
Now let’s look at Jesus’ response. Jesus gives three examples to the Pharisees to defend his disciples’ actions, then He declares his authority as the Son of God over the Sabbath day. Let’s look at each of these examples in turn.
First, Jesus gave the example of David and his friends eating the consecrated bread of the temple. Matthew 12:3-4 reads, “But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?” Jesus rebuked the Pharisees by saying “Have ye not read.” As the Jewish religious leaders, they would know of this event, which is told in 1 Samuel 21:1-6. When David and his men were on the run from King Saul, they took sanctuary in the temple and David asked the priest for food. The priest only had the hallowed bread and gave it to David even though it was technically against the law. John MacArthur said, “Every week they baked 12 loaves of bread and each loaf was baked with six and a half pounds of flour. And they were put in two rows or two piles of six each, and they represented the 12 tribes of Israel, and they were placed on this table. Every Sabbath the loaves would be taken away and new loaves put down, and when the loaves were taken away, according to Leviticus 24:5-9, they were to be eaten by the priests, and they were to be eaten by no one else. The word showbread really literally means the bread of presence or the continual bread, and it was the representation of God’s perpetual relationship to His people, and it was to be eaten only by the priests. It was sacred, never to touch the lips of a common person, even a person like David, because he wasn’t a priest. But David ate the showbread. I mean, I can’t think of a parallel unless you went into the Catholic church and drank all the holy water because you were thirsty. I mean, they might get upset at you for that. But David ate the showbread and so did his men. How come God let him do this? Because God never invented any law that was intended to overrule human need. And ceremony takes a backseat to the meeting of need. God not only allows necessity to overrule ritual, but the ritual in David’s time and in our Lord’s time had lost its meaning anyway, because the people were so unholy. Listen, God will even violate one of His own ceremonies – we’re not talking about moral laws at this point. God will even violate a ceremonial law if He has to to meet a need, because God is all about loving men and meeting their needs. And you see, the Pharisees didn’t understand this. They didn’t understand what Mark adds, “The Sabbath was made for man” – so he could rest and have his needs met – “not man for the Sabbath.” David violated the ceremonial law to fulfill the heart of God, and the heart of God is to meet needs.” Every law that God has ordained is for man’s benefit. None of God’s laws will harm us. We in our sinfulness may find God’s laws oppressive because their holiness goes against our sinful nature. Religious legalists twist God’s laws to oppress man for their own benefit and to make themselves appear holy. If David could break a law that was actually ordained by God to feed himself, how much more could the disciples break a man-made religious tradition to feed themselves? Work out of necessity is allowed on the Sabbath.
An anonymous hymnwriter wrote:
Lord of the Sabbath and its light,
I hail Thy hallowed day of rest;
It is my weary soul’s delight,
The solace of my careworn breast,
O sacred day of peace and joy,
Thy hours are ever dear to me;
Ne’er may a sinful thought destroy
The holy calm I find in thee,
How sweetly now they glide along!
How hallowed is the calm they yield!
Transporting is their rapturous song,
And heav’nly visions seem revealed,
O Jesus, let me ever hail
Thy presence with the day of rest;
Then will Thy servant never fail,
To deem Thy Sabbath doubly blest
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 18:8: “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.