BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 12, Day 4: Matthew 12:1-21

Summary of passage:  On the Sabbath, Jesus and his disciples were walking through grainfields and his disciples began to eat some of the grain.  The Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the law for “doing work” on the Sabbath.  Jesus chastised the Pharisees again, saying if you truly understood the Bible, then you would know of David who broke bread in the temple and how priests do it all the time and are not condemned and how you are to show mercy instead of condemnation.  Besides, Jesus says, one greater than the temple is here now, the Son of Man.

Jesus proceeded to the synagogue where the Pharisees malevolently asked Jesus if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath.  Jesus says it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, saying how they would rescue an animal on the Sabbath if it needed to be.  Jesus healed the man but the Pharisees still plotted against him.

Jesus continues to heal, warning them not to tell who he was.  This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 42:1-4 where Isaiah calls Jesus a servant who will proclaim justice and bring victory to the nations.


9a)  No because the law reads you are not to do any work on the Sabbath but you still must eat and technically the disciples were merely gathering in food for immediate consumption.  No where does the law read, “You must starve on the Sabbath because it’s work to chew your food.”  No!  It was not work to eat.

b)  Jesus uses the example of David and his men who had no food to eat and thus ate consecrated bread given to him by the priest.  Consecrated bread was bread reserved for the priests only to eat.  Yet the priests themselves are allowed to desecrate the day and are forgiven because the priests perform work on the Sabbath related to celebrating the Sabbath such as sacrifices, etc.  Jesus is suggesting here that the law is more important than survival.  Point of fact, the picking of grain on the Sabbath was forbidden by the Pharisees NOT by the law.

Secondly, Jesus basically says God is in their midst and he can do whatever he wants for he is Lord of the Sabbath.  He accuses the Pharisees of caring more about the law than people instead of being merciful when faced with sacrifice.

NOTE:  Jesus never violated God’s law of rest on the Sabbath.  Jesus violated man’s addition to the law.  At this time, the Pharisees had regulated practically everything on the Sabbath and had extensive lists of what a Jew could or couldn’t do.  Here, Jesus is pointing out the absurdity of some of these additions to God’s law.

c)  Jesus says it is more important to do good than to uphold laws for the Sabbath.  Taking care of sheep or people when they are in need is more important than what day of the week it is.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus does not care what others think of him or even of the danger to his own life.  He does good to the people, following God’s will and way for humankind.  Jesus is a servant whom God delights in and who will bring justice and hope to all peacefully.

It encourages me to serve more; to bring hope to others.  To follow God’s way despite what society thinks.  To go outside the norm and do what’s right in my heart.  To please God, not others.  To question rules and regulations if they are at the cost of sympathy for others.

Conclusions:  This shows the importance again of compassion on our fellow man versus following the laws of society to a T.  You can extend this idea to even following protocol or society norms and standards.  Young people would say doing what is “not cool”.  Bucking the trend.  Not following the crowd.  Pick your adage, it’s all the same idea.  Following our hearts is more important than what others may think of us.

I am surprised that BSF did not have us look up Deuteronomy 23:25 where the law does allow those who are traveling or otherwise hungry to pick grain to eat.  If you remember the story of Ruth, she gleaned the grain purposely left behind for widows and orphans and those otherwise unable to survive without the “leftovers.”  It was Jewish culture to provide for those hungry.

I found it fascinating how the disciples themselves were hungry.  How Jesus just didn’t perform a miracle when he needed one.  How following Jesus is never easy, even when you are walking beside him!

End Note:  Funny how the Pharisees seem to be stalking Jesus on the Sabbath!  Surely that is a violation of some law!

Note as we go along how we see the level of hostility towards Jesus and/or his disciples by the Pharisees and their supporters increase.

Note how Jesus himself went to synagogue.  He is showing us by example how important it is to attend public worship or church on Sundays.

The Pharisees are looking to trap Jesus with the withered hand man.  They know he will heal the man.  They have faith in Jesus’ compassion to do so.  Faith many of us might lack.  Ironic, right?

The Pharisees are so furious with Jesus (Luke 6:11) that they begin to plot to murder him.  Here is a man so unlike them, bucking the trends and threatening their way of life, that they are plotting to kill him (a sin itself in violation of God’s laws).  Yet, as we’ve seen, the laws apparently don’t apply to them.  Sound familiar in today’s land?

The Isaiah passage speaks to Jesus’ gentleness and his healings speak to Jesus’ overwhelming compassion on those of faith.  Imagine a huge crowd, all around Jesus, and all needing help.  Jesus is never overwhelmed or resentful or angry.  He is compassionate–something we all need to be in the face of need.


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