(17) Lord of the Sabbath
Those religious spies from Jerusalem are getting restless, up there in Galilee. Jesus’ disciples never seem to do as they should, and Jesus, as their leader, is obviously to blame. So he can’t be the Messiah, obviously…
Read Matthew 12:1-8 We’ve skipped some chunks of Matthew again (healing, teaching, sending the 12 out to teach, telling John…), but this scene appears straight after the passages we’ve been studying in Mark and Luke (and there may not even be 12 disciples yet to be sent out), so we’ll follow their timeline for a bit.
1. What law are they being accused of breaking? Read Exodus 20:8-10,34:21
2. Are they working? Read Deuteronomy 23:25 so taking grain is not the same as harvesting
3. Could the Pharisees have interpreted things differently? Read Matthew 12:7, Hosea 6:6. But maybe it’s a question of how we “use” law rather than how we “interpret” it…
4. Is the law meant to limit or teach us? Read Romans 3:20. Do we use the law to limit or teach others?
5. What’s the difference between law and tradition? And what’s the difference between truth and interpretation?
Mark tells the same story: Read Mark 2:23-28
1. How would the Pharisees have felt when Jesus asked “Have you read…?” Read 1 Samuel 21:6
2. How is Jesus’ interpretation of the law different from theirs? And is it different from ours?
3. How does “the Sabbath was made for man” fit with our interpretation of the law? Read Romans 3:20 again.
And in Luke: Read Luke 6:1-5
1. Who is the “Son of Man”? Read Daniel 7:13-14
2. Who is the “Lord of the Sabbath”? What is Jesus teaching by using these terms?
3. If someone told us that the phrase “son of man” shouldn’t be capitalized here, would it upset you?
4. What was the extra bit in Matthew, and why do you think he included it? (Read Matthew 12:5)
Now, as might be expected, Jesus walks into a local synagogue. With Sabbath rules in everyone’s mind, what happens next isn’t so surprising.
1. Read Matthew 12:9-10, Mark 3:1-2, Luke 6:6-7 Why are they so concerned about law? Why are we?
2. Read Matthew 12:11-12, Mark 3:3-4, Luke 6:8-9. Matthew, writing to Jews, brings up a more detailed example, more specific to Jewish law. When has law (or God’s law) been used to devalue human beings in history?
3. Read Matthew 12:13-14, Mark 3:5-6, Luke 6:10-11 Why are they so angry?
4. When do alternative interpretations of scripture make us angry, and why?
It’s not time yet for Jesus to face the religious courts, so he heads away from whichever small town this takes place in, and crowds follow him.
1. Read Matthew 12:15-21, Isaiah 42:1-4 How does Isaiah’s message fit with trying to escape the crowds?
2. Read Mark 3:7-12 The small boat will become more significant later. Does it surprise you to find it here?
3. Read Luke 6:17-19 Are these all Jews, or does this scene bear out what Isaiah said?
4. Read Mark 3:13-18, Luke 6:12-16 Why might now be a good time to select twelve close companions?
Jesus is healing, the crowds are gathering, and the scene is set for those gathered crowds to listen to Jesus’ teaching. Next time we’ll move on to the Sermon on the Mount (or on the plain).