"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Matthew 12 -- "Lord of the Sabbath" & "Greater Than" Statements of Jesus

In Friday's post about
Jesus vs. Sabbath Tradition as recorded in Matthew 12, I concluded with questions about what Jesus' words conveyed to those who heard him. What possibly could he mean by declaring himself "Lord of the Sabbath," the Sabbath being a rest instituted by God Himself? Here is what a study Bible and commentary had to say.

Did Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, change the rules?
No, but he insisted that some values were being ignored. The Pharisees were so particular about nonessentials that they failed to see the deeper truths: Minimal food preparation on the Sabbath did not offend God. Doing good on the Sabbath did not violate the spirit of the law. Ultimately, Jesus offered himself as the central overriding principle: The Lord of the Sabbath was qualified to say what honored God and what did not. (pg 1401 Quest)

Did Jesus break the law?

Jesus didn't violate one of the Ten Commandments, but he refused to obey the man-made laws that violated what God intended for the Sabbath. Instead of the Sabbath being seen as a welcomed rest in remembrance of God, it had become a joyless ritual because of the Pharisees' regulations. Jesus insisted on observing the Sabbath as it was originally intended, not as the caricature it had become. Rather than discarding the commandment to 'keep the Sabbath day holy,' Jesus instead demonstrated that one way to obey God's directive for the day was by feeding the hungry. (pg. 1439 Quest)

In declaring Himself "Lord of the Sabbath," Jesus was actually affirming equality with God; for God had established the Sabbath. (pg. 42 Wiersbe)

Also curious are Jesus' "greater than" statements in this chapter.

6I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. ...

41The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 42The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.

Did Jesus mean he was a better preacher than Jonah? Had more wisdom than Solomon? How was he greater than a temple? What did the temple represent that a "one greater than" could, well, be greater than?

How often have I heard Jesus referred to as Prophet, Priest and King! So I find these "greater than" statements of greater interest than those who dismiss Jesus as only one of many prophets of God. Hear me out.

Christians often like to point out that Jesus' death and resurrection fulfilled the Law and thus Jesus took the place of the High Priest who was required to offer sacrifices for sins on the children of Israel's behalf. Thus Jesus is the Great High Priest and, therefore, greater than the temple.

Jonah was a prophet and many Christians believe Jesus was the coming prophet who was like Moses (see Deuteronomy 18:18 & Peter's words in Acts 3:23).

Solomon was the third king of Israel, and Jesus - to me as one who believes He is God - is King of kings and Lord of lords. Not to mention his "King of the Jews" title.

Paul actually wrote this concerning Jesus:

9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

I actually had this post finished earlier today, but I was looking for Handel's Messiah...that phrase "King of kings...Lord of lords" and instead found this which I felt like posting as it made me happy. In fact I was downright joyful all day! :-D



Amber said...

I have nothing to add, sorry. :) You said anything that I would have said down there at the bottom. So...yay Susanne? ;)

Susanne said...

Yes, yay me for thinking like Amber!! :-)

Thanks for reading!

caraboska said...

Susanne, This is completely off-topic, but I need your advice about something that is not suitable for public discussion. How can we arrange that?

Susanne said...

I tried e-mailing you with the address at your blog, but it was returned. You can e-mail me instead.

bluesky 732 @ yahoo . com

sarah said...

I agree with the commentary about violating the laws. It was the spirit (or understanding) which was lacking and Jesus revived.

From POV, being greater than the temple may mean that recognising the messanger is more important than the rituals of worship. If you carry on the rituals but fail to acknowledge the prophet then you are loosing out and your rituals become less relevant. So, recognising and searching for God and His messengers is more important than performing rituals.

Susanne said...

Sarah, thank you! I enjoyed your point of view ...makes sense!