Where did you go for Christmas holidays this year? That’s right, we all stuck around home. I got as far as the grocery store. There is a greater authority in this country governing even my most seemingly innocuous actions.
“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
As a young Christian, a reader of Scripture often finds one’s self in the gospels. I admit that the frequent fighting over the Sabbath mystified me. The sabbath seems such mundane issue; surely Jesus and the Pharisees could find more weighty matters over which to lock horns. But, as recent political discourse has shown (Should elected officials defy their own advice and travel at Christmas during a pandemic?), seemingly minor issues can often portray the substance of one’s character quite eloquently.
What Jesus and the Pharisees are really disputing is, “Who is in charge?” The Pharisees see themselves as the holders of tradition and the line of defense between their people and apostacy & paganism. Enter Jesus, far outside that tradition, seeking to speak over that tradition and into it.
All throughout the gospel Jesus has a marvelous way of meeting the objections of the Pharisees on their own theological ground and then going deeper. In Matthew 12:3-5, He asks his opponents to consider the inconsistencies of the very laws they uphold. It betrays that there is a more significant matter to consider, something greater than the temple.
Then in verses 6-8, Jesus turns their focus to the Messiah, to Himself. God is of course superior to the temple, and if the Messiah is the manifestation of God, then He need not ascribe to their system of hierarchy and authority. He would supersede it. He would be the ultimate authority on the sabbath.
I and my family stayed home this Christmas because our earthly authorities directed us to do so, even if they didn’t heed their own advice. How much more ought we to follow the direction of Him in ultimate authority over our lives? The Creator of the Sabbath, yes, but indeed the Creator of so much more. The Giver of Life and the Sustainer of every breath we take. Ought we not give heed to Him also (without failing the former)?
The question is who holds sway in my life? Does Jesus? Or do I think there is some better voice? When we put it that way, most Christians could spout the answer every good Sunday school student learns from an early age: “Jesus”. But does our life reflect that? Do our choices? Our goings out and our staying ins?
Lord, I give you every part of me.