Jesus Does Good on the Sabbath
46 total verses, 19 for understanding: Matthew 12:1-21; Mark 2:23-3:7; Luke 6:1-11
Brief description of action taking place or point being made
54. Disciples pick grain on the Sabbath in Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5
55. Man’s hand healed on the Sabbath in Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11
56. Jesus withdraws to the sea in Matthew 12:14-21; Mark 3:7
1. What is your favorite verse or set of verses? Why?
2. Did you learn anything from the reading or find anything particularly cool? What?
3. Was there anything unclear in the passage that you have questions about? What are they?
Specific questions on this passage
After Completing the Bible Reading
Broader outline of each section of passage
Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5. This picks up one of the themes from yesterday’s reading: the fact that the Pharisees believe it is against the Law to do any kind of work on the Sabbath (yesterday it was healing, today it is eating grain from a field). And in Matthew 12:6 (“‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice'”, ESV), he repeats his words from Matthew 9:13, used in the reading from two days ago to explain why he was eating with sinners, but here for a defense for eating the grain harvest on the Sabbath. And then there is the other classic sound bite from Jesus in Mark 2:27-28, “‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11. This is another story of Jesus healing on the Sabbath, this time in a synagogue in front of God and everybody. Before Jesus heals the man, he asks whether it is lawful to heal, knowing that it is unlikely that the religious leaders would agree with anybody getting healed on the Sabbath in the synagogue! Then right before Jesus heals the man, he utters another classic sound bite: “‘It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath'” (Matthew 12:12, ESV). I like how Mark emphasizes that Jesus was angry with the religious leaders, and that he was grieved, it says, at them having hard hearts.
Matthew 12:14-21; Mark 3:7. Since the religious leaders were quite upset with Jesus, he withdrew to the sea. And then a beautiful quote from the Old Testament is used to describe Jesus. I love the quote, which is originally from Isaiah 42:1-4, and is found in Matthew 12:18-21. It tells us so many things about Jesus: that God’s Spirit is with him; that he is sent not just to call Jewish people, but Gentiles also; and that he is so gentle, that even the most wounded and frail person he will not overwhelm.
The Old Testament version of the quote in your Bible reads differently from the New Testament version. The reason is that almost always, when the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, it quotes from the Greek version of the Old Testament, rather than the Hebrew version. If you want to read what the Old Testament says when translated from Greek, you can look it up in the Greek version of the Old Testament (called “The Septuagint”). This particular passage can be found online at http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx/Esaias/index.htm. Since the meanings you get are often different depending on whether you are reading the version translated from Hebrew or Greek, it’s worth pondering how that should impact our thinking and understanding.
My favorite passage and other random thoughts
I will choose Matthew 12:6, which says “‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice'” (ESV). I like this because Jesus is challenging the religious leaders to think more broadly and less legalistically. The conventional wisdom is that you had to follow the letter of the Law. Here, Jesus is not only saying that this was not so, but then goes on to say that God can change the rules under the appropriate context. This is ought to really challenge even many theologians today, because elsewhere Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law, and yet apparently he is breaking the law, yet claiming that he is within the Law, perhaps because he has a better understanding about what is really meant.