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So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.
Keeping the Law was an essential component of being a faithful Jew. By Jesus’ day, however, the religious leaders had added so many legalistic qualifications to the Law that so-called “law-keeping” went far beyond what was actually required.
Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees today centered on the application of fasting laws and Sabbath observance. When
He was questioned about the lack of fasting by His disciples, Jesus defended their actions with a wedding analogy: the guests of the bridegroom should not fast while the bridegroom is present. Fasting has a place, even for His disciples, but that time was not now. Jesus, the “bridegroom,” came bursting the old wineskins and tearing the old cloth of religious tradition. Celebration, not fasting, was the appropriate response.
Likewise, in the controversies over the Sabbath, Jesus demonstrated that the new order He was ushering in would break the bonds of legalism. Challenged about the right way to keep the Sabbath, Jesus clearly proclaimed that the purpose of the Sabbath was for human flourishing and doing good. Performing works of necessity (like eating) and works of mercy (like healing) were not violations of the Sabbath but fulfillments of its purpose.
More importantly, however, notice Jesus’ claim about who had the authority to decide these issues! With His mouth, He declared that He was “Lord even of the Sabbath” (2:28). With His actions, He demonstrated it by healing the man in the synagogue.
In each confrontation about fasting and Sabbath, Jesus not only challenged the stifling chokehold of legalism, He also proclaimed His own identity as God’s Son and Israel’s Messiah. Living as a disciple in that kingdom does not mean self-righteous legalism. Discipleship entails understanding the spirit and purpose of God’s law and responding appropriately to the kingdom that has come with Jesus.
Apply the Word
Scripture calls us to see God’s law not simply as something to avoid breaking but as an opportunity to express our love for God, who desires our flourishing. Write out one of the Ten Commandments, setting it in a visible place. As you see it throughout the day, consider how the application of that law in your life might be a joyous response to Christ’s liberating kingdom.
Pray with Us
Moody Radio’s ministry wouldn’t be possible without the support of our faithful listeners. Collin Lambert, vice president, and Doug Hastings, general manager of Moody Radio, invite you to thank God for this wonderful provision through His people.