The Sabbath Law

“What must I forsake?” a young man asked. “Colored clothes for one thing. Get rid of everything in your wardrobe that is not white. Stop sleeping on a soft pillow. Sell your musical instruments and don’t eat any more white bread. You cannot, if you are sincere abou … More

Legalism

Sabbath observance was a binding ceremonial obligation for Israel and most Jews had no idea of the original purpose of the Sabbath. Jesus and His disciples were going through the grain fields on the Sabbath, when His disciples began to pick the grain and eat it (v. 1). The pharisees immediately accused the disciples of working on the Sabbath and violating the law (v. 2). In responding to this false charge, Jesus instructed them as to three things the Sabbath was not designed to do:

1.The Sabbath does not restrict deeds of necessity (vv. 3-4).  David  was an example, when he and his companions who were weak and hungry ate of the show bread which was only to be eaten by the priests. (I Sam. 21:4-6).

2.The Sabbath does not restrict service to God (vv. 5-6). Even the most legalistic Pharisee considered the priests innocent who worked twice as hard on the Sabbath ministering in the Temple (Num. 28:6-10).

3.The Sabbath does not restrict acts of mercy (vv. 7-8). God wants mercy, not religious sacrifice. He wants love, not legalism. Only because of God’s mercy can any of us be saved.

The Pharisees questioned Jesus if it was right for Him to heal a man with a crippled hand on the Sabbath and He answered them by asking, if they had a sheep fall in a ditch on the Sabbath, would they lift it out (vv. 9-11)? Then Jesus told them that people are worth more than sheep and He healed the man with the crippled hand (vv. 12-13). The Pharisees left planning to kill Jesus (v. 14).

Application

What are some ways that you can see “Phariseeism” in Churches today? Have I been guilty in my own life of being legalistic like the Pharisees? What can I do to get the “Phariseeism” out of me?  

Matthew 12:1-14 (English Standard Version)

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath." He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 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. And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"--so that they might accuse him. He said to them, "Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »