Lenten Devotional – March 31, 2023

Friday, March 31, 2023
Scripture: Matthew 12: 1-14
By Michaela Eskew
“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12: 8

While the Hebrew Bible is very clear in its laws how to follow the Sabbath correctly, Jesus messes all of that up. Jesus comes in and lets his disciples pluck wheat on the sabbath – the very act of harvesting that the Sabbath rule says is punishable by death. Jesus also heals on the Sabbath. Then, when Jesus is accused of working on the Sabbath and breaking the commandment, he gives great reasons for breaking the law. He explains how the Sabbath is broken weekly by the priests that work in the temple on the Sabbath and questions just how many people would break the Sabbath if it meant helping themselves or someone else that was in trouble.

With Jesus’ new interpretation of the Sabbath, many Christians are left wondering if the Sabbath is still important. Clearly there are exceptions that can be made now for what can be done on the Sabbath. Notice, however what Jesus makes an exception for: bodily health. Jesus allows his disciples to feed themselves when they are hungry, even though it meant pulling that food straight from the fields. Jesus healed a man with a shriveled hand because he was a man in need. Neither of these actions are for selfish motives. Neither the disciples, nor the man with the shriveled hand were seeking to gain more power or privilege through their work. They were also not trying to disrespect God by showing that they could supply for themselves. If anything, both the injured man and disciples were showing their great need for God. The injured man went right up to God, Jesus, and asked for a miracle. And the disciples did just as the Israelites were told to do during the Sabbath year, gather their meals from the untended fields as their ancestors did.

Can you find a time in your week that follows these new Sabbath guidelines? A time that supports your bodily needs? A time that shows God, you need them?

Prayer: Lord of the Sabbath, remind us what the Sabbath’s intention is. May the sabbath not be a burden to add to our tasks for the day, but rather let us remember it as a gift. Amen.

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