The Gospel of Matthew, Part 26

The Gospel of Matthew, Part 26


Matthew 12:1-14
Breaking the Sabbath Law, the Claim of Human Need, Love and Law

Opening thoughts and basis for discussion

In every life, there are a series of crucial events, decisive moments, which cause that life to change. Likewise, we see in the life of Jesus such a period of time. In Matthew 12, we see the Jewish leadership who always questioned His acts and sayings and teachings, coming to their final decision regarding Jesus — and that was rejection.

It was not a rejection in the sense that they wanted nothing to do with him; it was rejection in the sense that nothing less than His complete elimination from the world would be enough.

Breaking the Sabbath Law

The Sabbath Law was very complicated and very detailed. Of course we see that it forbids work on the Sabbath, but this was not detailed enough. So the interpreters of the law defined thirty-nine basic actions which were forbidden on the Sabbath. Among them were reaping, winnowing and threshing, and preparing a meal.

The Scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the law by allowing these actions, if not encouraging His disciples to do so.

The Claim of Human Need

Christ makes three arguments against the Scribes and Pharisees when in the fields.

1. He quoted David (1 Samuel 21: 1-6) when he brought his men into the tabernacle to eat the sacred loaves.
2. He quoted the Sabbath work, that on the Sabbath day the priest had to work extra hard for all the rituals, when the law clearly states no work ought to be done on the Sabbath.
3. He quoted Hosea the Prophet (Hosea 6:6) that God desires steadfast love and not sacrifice.

Our fellow brother and sister is to be treated with the love that we have for ourselves (Mark 12:31).

Love and Law

In Matthew 12:9-14 we see a crucial moment in the life of Jesus. He deliberately and publicly broke the Sabbath Law. This caused the Jewish leaders to meet and begin to search out a way to eliminate Him.

Jesus knew what He was doing when He healed the paralyzed man. He knew that He would be sought out to be eliminated. Yet He healed the man! His love for His creation, man, far surpassed His love for the law.

About author

Fr. John Codis

Father John was born in Southampton N.Y. He served as an altar boy during his youth at the Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Chruch. He is a graduate of Hellenic College with a B.A. and received his Master of Divinity degree from Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, MA in 2012. He is supported in his ministry by his wife Abigail. He was ordained to the priesthood in August 5th, 2012 and assigned to Saint Demetrios as the assistant priest.