January 6, 2020 Daily Devotion

The reading for today is Matthew 2:1-12.

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 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. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

9 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.

Do we follow the letter of the law, or do we follow the spirit of the law? The Pharisees were known for interpreting the letter of the law. The religious laws were derived from the Ten Commandments but extended to all facets of life. Many of these rules became more important than the Laws, to the extent that the reason for the rules were long forgotten. My last year in high school was spent in a small town outside a large military base. Our Civics class looked at some of the local laws that were still in effect. One law required the driver of a “horseless” carriage to have a person with a lantern walk in front of them after dark. Fortunately, the local police didn’t decide to enforce this law which was a great relief for those of us just getting our licenses. What other common laws can we find that no longer make sense or have are interpreted differently than what was originally intended?

Jesus is doing the right things in the eye of God, but seemingly violating the religious laws of his day. The end of verse 12 tells it all, “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Dear God, help us to remember to do Your work in this world. Let us keep our focus on the meaning and purpose of our mission.


Barry Dougherty


Prayer Concern - for those whose faith is restricted by laws.

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