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A Moment with the Bible

Matthew 12:1-8 #3

Notice Jesus words, “Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.”

Three times in this text Jesus indicted the Pharisees for a lack of careful observation of the scriptures and a negligence in applying the words they read. Twice He says, “Have you not read,” and the third time He says, “If you had known.”

The progression of Jesus’ arguments goes like this. David and his men ate the holy bread designated only for priests, but the Pharisees did not condemn David. The disciples simply ate grain and the Pharisees condemned them. David and his company of men had a pressing need, but Jesus and His company had a greater mission. Jesus’ argument concerning the priests and their work on the Sabbath is similar. The priests were laboring every Sabbath for the service of the temple in order to honor God. The Pharisees had not even considered the principle of priestly labor. But Jesus’ disciples were laboring on the Sabbath for the One who is greater than the temple. They labored for the One who was the architect of both the physical temple and the heavenly temple after which it was patterned. If the priests can labor for God on the Sabbath, sacrificing animals and cooking and eating their portion, then certainly the disciples can glean some grain in order to strengthen themselves in service to the One who is the Lord of the Sabbath.

The primary point of this text is that the Pharisees missed the true meaning of the Sabbath. It was intended as a gift to man with the intent that God would be honored. Our worship today is the same. God has given us a great gift in teaching us to pray, sing, give, share His word, and partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him. But these are not intended as the goal; these are a means to the goal of growing to be more like Him and honoring Him in our lives. God designed these particular parts of worship with a spiritual goal. If we miss that purpose, we have not truly worshiped.