Friday, February 03, 2017
Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 12 revisited
The “complaint” God had with the Israelites in the Old Testament had to do with their leadership as much or more with the masses. If this is true (in terms of my interpretation) it really makes a difference in understanding. Those who criticize Jesus in peeling grains to eat on Sabbath (when fasting is not required) were the Pharisees. Why are the Pharisees the bad guys? Not just because they oppose Jesus, although that is part of it, but because they use their power heavily, not to shepherd but to oppress and control. Leadership is never taken for granted or presented as a light thing in Scripture. Spiritual leadership, I should say, although for other types it is true as well that leadership is never taken lightly. Pagan kings like Nebuchadnezzar are instruments of judgment, but spiritual leaders must first be good examples and never false or hypocritical. Their character, not their use of power, comes first.
However, Matthew 12 marks the specific beginning of the Pharisees’ opposition. First over Sabbath. They are condemning the guiltless because they are applying non-law laws. Rest on the Sabbath does not mean inactivity, sloth, non-movement, or failure to attend to human need. The passage is full of theology, for “one greater than the Temple is here,” “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” and “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”