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Jesus is greater

Rev Charles Oppong-Poku | APRIL 16, 2023 | Matthew 12:1-8


⁷If you had known what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. ⁸For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:7-8 (NIV)


In today’s passage, it’s the good old Pharisees who are opposing Jesus. The Pharisees were an influential religious sect within Judaism in the time of Jesus Christ and the early church. They were known for their emphasis on personal acceptance of oral tradition in addition to the written Law, and their teaching that all Jews should observe all 600-plus laws in the Torah, including the rituals concerning ceremonial purification.

The issue of the Pharisees was that the disciples were “working” on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees and other religious leaders had developed a list of 39 different types of rules related to working on the Sabbath. Harvesting wheat was on that list of forbidden tasks to do on the Sabbath, even if it was just a small amount of wheat harvested by picking it with your hands.

In responding to the concerns of the Pharisees, Jesus provided two exceptions and in doing so He points out that if the lesser is true, then the greater must be true as well. He referred to David and his men who went into the Tabernacle and ate bread that was supposed to be eaten by priests only, this was allowable because David and his men were truly in need. Then He said that the priests themselves violated the Sabbath laws by working in the temple and yet that was right. Then, Jesus says in verse 6 that something greater than the temple is here. He is saying, “I am greater than the temple.” That’s a bold statement because the temple represented the holy presence of God and God Himself. By saying that He is greater than the temple, He establishes the greater element in this discussion. Jesus is saying that if it’s right for the lesser, David and the priests, to break the strict letter of the law on the Sabbath; then it’s also right for the greater, Jesus Himself, to break the strict letter of the law on the Sabbath. This is not to say that God’s laws do not matter. However, we must remember that any day set aside to honour God and to bring rest to his people must recognize the holy worship in blessing others. To rest on the Sabbath for the Jews did not mean to refrain from any form of labour, but it did mean to honour God on the day he set aside and to bless his children by letting them enjoy His rest and praise Him. Similarly, every day for Christians is to be a day to worship God and serve others. The Pharisees were trying to worship God by following all the religious rules and making sure others did, but they got it all wrong because one needs Jesus to follow God’s laws.


How do you define your relationship with Jesus Christ? Don’t define your relationship with Jesus by the rules and rituals you follow. Understand that true worship is knowing the Son of Man – Jesus, who is Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a gift to God’s people. However, the Saviour is a greater gift than the Sabbath. Jesus the Saviour is greater than any other religious law and anything! He is greater than David and his men, He is greater than the priests of the temple, and He’s greater than the temple itself. Jesus deserves all our devotion, all our worship, all our sacrifice, and all our hearts. Sabbath rest is good, but the rest found in Jesus is better!


Thank you, dear God, that true rest is found in Jesus Christ. Help me to understand that true worship is more than following religious rules and traditions. Help me not to follow mere religious traditions but to surrender my life completely to Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath and find the rest in Him. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.



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The Baptist Daily Devotional is a collection of God-inspired messages that will help you grow in your faith and walk with Christ. Each day, you will find a scripture passage, a reflection, a prayer and a challenge to apply God's word to your life. The devotional is written by pastors and leaders of the Ghana Baptist Convention, who share their insights and experiences from serving God in various contexts and ministries. For example, you will learn how to trust God in times of trouble, how to share the gospel with others, how to pray effectively, how to deal with temptation, how to handle conflict and more. Whether you are a new believer or a mature Christian, the Baptist Daily Devotional will inspire you, encourage you and equip you to live for God's glory.
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