Keep the religion or care for people?

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Matthew 12

1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” 3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Jesus taught both by what he said and what he did. In this instance we learn the difference of religion and true care for people in the context of religion. Two laws are on display here. The first law was the law given to harvesters of grain to mercifully leave whatever falls on the ground for the needs of the poor. The second law was the law of the Sabbath that states there was no work allowed to be done on the Sabbath.

It was a Sabbath day. On the seventh day of creation God rested and commanded that the Sabbath be set aside for rest and for worship of him. The Pharisees had corrupted this command making it impossible even for people to care for one another on the Sabbath. Jesus, in plain view of the Pharisees, with his disciples’ plucked grain for personal consumption. They were not harvesting, they were not working, they were not storing grain; they were plucking food to eat and to satisfy their own hunger. The Pharisees thought they had something on Jesus for working on the Sabbath.

Jesus, taking the opportunity to teach, explained the difference between eating and working, doing good and breaking the Sabbath. The Pharisees often accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath when he would heal someone on the Sabbath. So now Jesus explains that He is Lord of the Sabbath and as Lord of the Sabbath he desires mercy and not sacrifice. It would have been a sacrifice for them to have gone hungry, to eat the grain left by the farmer was enjoying the mercy of the farmer. On the Sabbath, the religious day of rest, the Lord of the Sabbath desires mercy to be shown.

Let us be careful to never put our religious practices above showing mercy to others. If you are on your way to church and you see someone in need, will you ignore their need to get to church or will you be late for church to meet their need?   What religious duty would you put in front of showing mercy to someone in need? Jesus is teaching us that showing mercy is better than sacrificing ourselves to keep our religious practices. An interesting thought of values for people of all times.


It was difficult to read the biographical sketches of the ten people killed at the school shooting in Texas last week. It appeared that three of them were known for their Christianity. One girl was a foreign exchange student from Pakistan. Others were aspiring teenagers looking forward to living life. As you read about these people, pray for their families all of whom are questioning God as to why this had to happen to their families.

Pray for the safety of one another as we go about our lives. Solomon wrote this, “The horse is prepared for the day of battled, but safety is of the Lord.”

Have a great day in the Lord,




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