The Sabbath or the Savior (2-28-16)

The Sabbath or the Savior

Matthew 12:1-21

 The Sabbath According to the Law

  • 16:23; Ex. 16:25; Ex. 16:29; Ex. 20:8; Ex. 20:10; Ex. 31:13; Ex. 35:2

But as you can see from these texts, the OT/Jewish Sabbath was not simply a day of rest…it was a day to rest from your labor BECAUSE you know that it is the LORD Himself who sets you apart, not you or your labor (Exodus 31:13).  It was a day to remember that the Lord was the One who brought you out of the land of Egypt when you were there in slavery (Deut. 5:15).  In other words, we might say that working on the Sabbath was a dishonoring of the LORD.  It was essentially denying the redemptive intervention of God in the nation.

In Matthew 12, Jesus together with His disciples were walking through the grain fields. They were hungry.  So as they were walking along they were grabbing a few kernels of grain and rubbing it between their hands and popping it in their mouths.

The problem, however was that it was on the Sabbath Day.  The disciples of Christ (and presumably) Christ Himself were violating the traditions of the Rabbi’s.  And this was anathema to the Pharisees who were following them.  Now, make no mistake about it, this was a major issue for these people.  It was so much of an issue that they were ready to plot the death of Jesus over this issue! 

In Matthew 12:1-21 we will make three observations.


  • Notice that He calls attention to their Misunderstanding of the Law (12:1-8)
  • Notice second that He exposes their Misapplication of the Law (12:9-14)
  • Notice third that He fulfills the True purpose of the Law (12:15-21).


  1. Notice that He calls attention to their misunderstanding of the Law (12:1-8)
    • They misunderstood the law and they thought the Sabbath law as ultimate


  1. Notice second that He exposes their Misapplication of the Law (12:9-14)
They failed to see the suffering of the man
The misapplication of the law led to self righteous and unloving behavior


  1. Notice third that He fulfills the True purpose of the Law (12:15-21)
Jesus is the Sabbath-our rest
The Sabbath was not given as a way for man to earn favor with God
But to remember the God who has saved
It is not about a day but a person

This passage is essentially quoting Isaiah 42:1-4.  This is the first of four passages in the book of Isaiah that refers to the servant of the Lord who will come to deliver Israel.  He is the One who fulfills the Sabbath law…He comes as our Sabbath… He Himself is our rest.  It was NEVER the purpose of God to give the Sabbath to man as a way for man to earn favor with God.  It was given as a way for man to celebrate the favor that was already his. 

            It’s not about a day but it’s about a Person!  And that person is the Lord Jesus Christ.   In what ways?  Four ways…


  1. The One Who Pleases God
  1. The One Who Preaches Good News
  1. The One Who Promises Grace
  1. The One Who Provides Hope


  • There is no Christian Sabbath day but there is a Sabbath and he is Jesus
  • Nothing wrong with standards but 2 potential dangers
  1. When it’s more about the rule than it is about the Savior
  2. When it’s more about saving face than about the needs of people


Reflection, Discussion & Application

  1. If the OT law on the Sabbath was still in effect, and you were living in accordance with it, how would things change with your week?
  2. Read Hebrews 3:7-4:16. Observe the how this passage reflects the theme of this message in Matthew. How are we to live in light of this “Sabbath Rest” in Christ? How are we to speak to one another? Why should we seek the input of fellow believers?
  3. Jesus said in v. 7 “and if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” What are the places in your life where you tend to be more focused on the rule than the Savior or the needs of others. (c.f. Mt 22:32-40 Deut 6:5 ;Lev 19:18).