Despite the many miraculous work that Jesus had performed in Galilee, most people were unrepentant. In this section, the Pharisees attempted to find grounds for accusing Jesus. The opposition grew to such intensity that they began plotting for Jesus’ death.
Did You Know...?
- Plucking heads of grain (12:1): According to the Pharisees, plucking wheat from its stem is reaping, rubbing the wheat heads between one’s palms is threshing, and blowing away the chaff is winnowing! [ref]
- Showbread/consecrated bread (12:4): lit. ‘bread of the face’, i.e. bread set before the face or presence of God (Ex. 25:30, 35:13, 39:36, etc.)… The showbread consisted of twelve baked cakes, made of fine flour, each containing two-tenths of an ephah…These were set in two rows, six to a row (ma’ªreḵeṯ, Lv. xxiv. 6). [ref]
- Priests profane the sabbath (12:5): By definition, priestly duties are considered “work.” In this sense, the priests profaned the Sabbath by doing work associated with the sacrifices on this day (cf. Numbers 28:9).
How did the examples of David eating the showbread and the priests in the temple answer the Pharisee’s accusation?Hide Answer
David was not condemned for eating the showbread because of his urgent need. The priests were not condemned because the service in the temple required that they do work on the Sabbath. In the same way, the disciples were innocent because their actions were out of their physical need. The disciples plucked the grains not for their own enjoyment but because of their hunger while following the Lord. So their actions were justifiable.
What did Jesus mean by, “the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath”?Hide Answer
He made the Sabbath and is therefore greater than the Sabbath. As the Lord of the Sabbath He is the one we should honor over and above the Sabbath itself.
Point out the mistake in using this passage to support the belief that the Lord did away with the Sabbath.Hide Answer
Nowhere in the passage does it say the Lord had abolished the Sabbath or that He changed it to Sunday. He did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill it (5:17). New Testament believers must still obey the Ten Commandments (19:17; Lk 23:55, 56;
1Cor 7:19; 1Jn 5:2, 3; Rev 14:12). The Lord defended the disciples on the basis of “I desire mercy.” The issue was not whether to keep the Sabbath but the true spirit of Sabbath-keeping.
How was the question in verse 10 intended to be a trap?Hide Answer
Keeping the Sabbath and doing good works are both required by God’s law. The accusers hoped to pose the question as a dilemma so that whichever Jesus’ answer might be, they might charge Him with defying God’s law.
What are the basic spiritual principles in this paragraph that the Lord wanted to point out to His accusers?Hide Answer
The law is a shadow and finds its full meaning in Christ. We cannot obey the law for its own sake without honoring the Lord Jesus and doing what pleases Him.
God is compassionate. He wants us to show the same compassion when we obey His law. Without mercy, keeping God’s law becomes meaningless.
If the Lord Jesus did not abolish the Sabbath, what types of things can we do on the sabbath? Base your answer on this passage.Hide Answer
We may do work if it is out of immediate necessity or for the sake of the ministry and good deeds.
How have we sometimes neglected mercy while we “offer sacrifice”?
What do you think was the Pharisees’ motive for plotting against Jesus?
What can we learn from this regarding our attitude toward God and relationship with others?Hide Answer
Our zeal in keeping God’s law may sometimes turn into an opportunity to justify ourselves or to condemn others. We may even become bitter toward those who are truly following God’s law. “Keeping the law” to the point of wanting to murder someone has certainly gone too far from God’s will. We need to constantly check our motives when carrying out God’s commands and remove any self-centered thoughts and attitudes.
What is your impression when reading the words of Isaiah? Refer also to Isa 42:1-4 for the source of the quotation.
In what ways did Jesus fulfill this Messianic prophecy?Hide Answer
He was the beloved Son whom God had anointed with His Spirit (3:16,17; 17:5; Lk 4:1, 18). His proclamation of God’s kingdom would have universal influence. He did not resist evil-doers with violence (1Pet 2:23), but withdrew from His accusers. He was gentle and lowly in heart (11:29). He healed the sick, both physical and spiritual, and was full of compassion for the weak and needy (9:12, 13, 36).
Compare the Pharisees and the Lord Jesus in their attitude and actions. What do they teach us about the right way of fighting for truth and justice?Hide Answer
Spreading the truth of God’s kingdom may be slow and difficult. But if we do so in a gentle and humble manner and with a desire to please God, the Lord will accomplish His great work. Preaching the truth should not involve violent actions or bitter attitudes. What marks the true servant of God is having the heart of God—a heart of mercy and compassion.
Describe an experience in which you were like a “bruised reed” and “smoking flax” but God showed you His tender love.