Mercy versus Ceremony

Jesus beautifully highlights the importance of applying mercy to the rules, regulations and ceremonies followed. The law was meant to help, not hamper; to reach out in mercy, not merely ceremony.

Overview

Bible passages: Matt 12:1-8; Mark 2.23-28 Luke 6.1-5

Sabath Attitudes:

  • Towards God:
    • Honour the Lord
    • Give Him first place
  • Towards Others:
    • Show mercy not only sacrifice to God
    • Save don’t condemn
    • Lift up don’t cast out
    • Do good not harm
    • Restore don’t destroy
  • Towards Ourselves:
    • Soul rest not merely physical rest

Objectives

  • To understand the spirit of following legal guidelines of Sabbath
  • To understand that this spirit is based on love and mercy as a base while interpreting it as opposed to legalism and harassment
  • Show the same level of mercy that we expect from others and God

Bible Passage

Matthew 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 

Bible Passage (Cont'd)

Matt 12:2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Attitude Toward God

Honour the Lord

Matt 12:8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath

Give Him first place

Matt 12:14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

Attitude Towards others

Show mercy not only sacrifice to God

Matt 12:7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

It is our heart and not actions that God looks at. Humble, empathetic, considering others better than ourself, etc.

Attitude Towards others(Cont'd)

Save don’t condemn

Matt 12:10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him.

Lift up, don’t cast out

Matt 12:11 And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep!

Attitude Towards others(Cont'd)

Do good not harm

Matt 12:12 How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Restore, don’t destroy

Matt 12:13 Then He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.

Attitude Towards others (Cont'd)

Restore, don’t destroy

Dr. Ron Charles indicates that the “withered hand” had been caused by Pharisees cutting off hands of those who built Herod’s temple on sabbath days as per the royal order. These were also ostracised from society. Jesus’ restoration reaches all levels. On the flip side, the Pharisees’ destruction reached all levels.

Attitude Towards ourselves

Soul rest not physical rest

Matt 11:28-30 – “Come unto me… you will find rest for your souls

Jesus tells us what we really need and where we can find it.

Recap and Discussion

In what ways are we in the 21st century guilty of lapses like the Pharisees:

Towards God:

  • Honour the Lord
  • Give Him first place

Towards Others:

  • Show mercy not only sacrifice to God
  • Save don’t condemn
  • Lift up don’t cast out
  • Do good not harm
  • Restore don’t destroy

Towards Ourselves:

  • Soul rest not merely physical rest

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