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FEBRUARY 28 | MATTHEW 12:1-14


 

DAILY READING


 

REFLECTION


The Scandal of a Revitalizing Sabbath

by Dan Kidd

It's so predictably unfortunate that the religious leaders in this story responded with such legalistic displeasure to Jesus'disciples daring to feed themselves on the Sabbath. Predictable because the Pharisees were so characteristically legalistic. What's particularly unfortunate is how tempting their response might be for us--for me. I would like to believe that we, that I, would see Jesus--the Son of Man, the Son of God, Immanuel himself--and notice that his is God's work, that his friend were God's friends, and that whatever he did, and whenever he did it, is not only lawful, but entirely righteous. The problem is that rules are helpful. Helpful in our day-to-day; helpful in our faith. It's no accident that the first several books of our Bible are often referred to as the Torah, often translated law or instruction. History is clear, we need guideposts and warnings to stay on the path of God's will and wisdom (and even we wander off and fall down). And would I not be unnerved and irritated if someone had the audacity to break our Sunday worship rules?


What's more, the Pharisees rightly appreciated how important the Sabbath is. It would be devastating for us to forget that the Lord gave us Sabbath as a gift to remind us of our finitude and his provision. Once a week we have the privilege to rest from our toiling, to remember that our value comes not from what we do, but from who we were created, and to let God's provision re-create us. This routine of restoration was so crucial that the penalty of breaking Sabbath was death. And frankly, a life lived without Sabbath rest is inherently deadly.


But Jesus' disciples were hungry. And they needed to eat. And what the Pharisees didn't understand is that a precedence had been set long before Jesus, with David and his companions, that the disciples of the king have priestly authority. Additionally, "something more than the temple" was at hand with Jesus. It is, of course, lawful to heal, rescue, and eat on the Sabbath, because the Sabbath is about being brought back to ourselves, the way we were created; that we would be refreshed, restored, and healed. Any law that would deny the re-vitalizing work of the Lord is simply misguided.


What then of the rules? I pray that I might be vigilant for the Lord's work, and have the grace to notice when the Lord is meeting his people's needs--even when it may not be comfortable to me. I pray my dependency on ritual and decorum never betray God's purposes. I pray that the living God would be my true north on what is right and what is wise.


PRAYER PRACTICE

Prayer Journal – In response to this passage, write out a prayer to God. Not sure what to write? Try using ACTS to frame your prayer. Begin with adoration for who God is. Then move on to confession – being real about where you have fallen short in the last day or two. Give thanks to God for all that He gives (including forgiveness for the sin you just confessed!). And then finish with supplication – with your prayer requests to God. When you are done, tuck this away somewhere (so you can read it later and see how God has answered your prayers) and then move into hearing from God through his Word.












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