Matthew 12:1-14 Jesus: More Than Rules

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

He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 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. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

Jesus: More Than Rules

We like to have people play by our rules.  Parents make rules to control their children.  Teachers make rules to control their classrooms.  Countries make rules to control their citizens.  Churches make rules to control their congregation.  Control gives us a sense of safety.  However, Jesus is unsafe.  Life is his game.  He made the rules.  He has the authority to interpret them.  This is what made the authorities in Jesus’ time mad.  They had delineated the vague rules of the Bible into minute rules that could manage every moment of every day.  People needn’t think or relate or be whatever it means to be human.  If they followed the rules of the Pharisees every detail for every moment was laid out.  Jesus doesn’t rewrite the rulebook, but he makes up his interpretation of the rules as he goes along.  He understands the spirit behind the law so he can circumstantially choose the right decision.  Pharisees said that harvesting grain and milling it was work.  You couldn’t pick grain and harvest it like Jesus’ disciples did.  You certainly couldn’t heal people.  Jesus sees that rules were made to serve people and lead them into a richer life.  He breaks the rules of those around him in order to do good.

Do you try and control your life by making rules that you expect to be able to follow?  Do you seek the one who made the rules and follow a person?  It’s the world of difference.


  1. What did Jesus and his disciples do on the Sabbath?
  2. How did the Pharisees react to Jesus and his disciples actions on the Sabbath?
  3. What is more important to Jesus than rules?
  4. What rules have you made and what rules do you follow?
  5. How would you justify the rules that you have chosen to follow as loving God and your neighbour?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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1 Response to Matthew 12:1-14 Jesus: More Than Rules

  1. Kelli says:

    1. The picked grain
    2. Accused them of breaking the law.
    3. People!
    4. I am continually making “rules.” I am continually having new ideas that should make life easier, better, more fulfilling, more healthy, more organized, etc. Sometimes I follow them. Often I abandon them too quickly.
    5. Some of the “rules” I have made would fall into these categories. I think that living a healthy life is a way to love God and serve our neighbor. But certainly some of my “rules” are self-serving.

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