I Desire Mercy!

January 11, 2023 in Today's Worship by TGV

Matthew 12: Worship Guide/ 40-BSG-12A, (Matthew 12:1-8)/ Theme: I desire Mercy!

Exploration: Jesus’ teachings (by Precept or Example) → Sabbath Controversies (Mt 12:1–13; Mk 2:23–28; Lk 6:1–11; Jn 5:16–17)

Plucking Grain on the Sabbath: Jesus and his disciples are walking through a field of ripe grain on the Sabbath, and his disciples eat some of the heads of grain. Seeing this, the Pharisees condemn the disciples’ actions as unlawful on the Sabbath. Jesus responds by recalling the story of David and his men who ate the consecrated bread reserved for priests only. He also adds that the temple priests violated the Sabbath (by working on that day). Jesus then declares that something more significant than the Temple is here, quoting Hos 6:6, “I desire Mercy and not Sacrifice.” In other words, if the Pharisees had only known that God desires compassion (for those in distress) and not (animal) sacrifice, they would not have condemned the innocent disciples. Later, He declares that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. (See more in Section 12J of this study guide).

Devotional Implication: “If it was right for David to satisfy his hunger by eating the bread that had been set apart to a holy use, then it was right for the disciples to supply their need by plucking the grain upon the sacred hours of the Sabbath. Again, the priests in the temple performed greater labor on the Sabbath than upon other days. The same labor in secular business would be sinful, but the work of the priests was in the service of God. They were performing those rites that pointed to the redeeming power of Christ, and their labor was in harmony with the object of the Sabbath. But now Christ Himself had come. The disciples, in doing the work of Christ, were engaged in God’s service, and that which was necessary for the accomplishment of this work it was right to do on the Sabbath day.” – (The Desire of Ages, p. 285).

This debate is not about whether the Sabbath should be observed or abolished. “Those who hold that Christ abolished the Law teach that He broke the Sabbath and justified His disciples in doing the same. Thus, they are really taking the same ground as did the caviling Jews. In this, they contradict the testimony of Christ Himself, who declared, “I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” John 15:10. Neither the Saviour nor His followers broke the law of the Sabbath. Christ was a living representative of the law.” (Ibid, p. 287).

The Gospel’s Voice: This section is written as if God were speaking directly to you—because He does. What does the LORD say to me this morning? My son, that which must be done on the Sabbath to accomplish My work is in accord with the Sabbath law. It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath – (attending to the sick, visiting the imprisoned, loose bonds of wickedness, feeding the hungry, etc.) Any acts of mercy and compassion done unto “the least of these” (cf. Mt 25:37-40) will be highly received, and My Name will be glorified. Read Isaiah 58:6, 7, 8, 9.

My Desire: By God’s grace, I want to “do good,” not just on the Sabbath day but all days of my life. Engaging in acts of kindness and mercy – relief of pain and suffering and meeting the basic needs of the needy.

Exhortation: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27, NKJV)

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