Matthew 12:1-14 • July 5, 2023 • g1270
Pastor Taige Ronan teaches an expository message from Matthew 12:1-14 titled, “Lord of the Sabbath.”
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.” 9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him. 11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
A few months ago I had to have this sleep study done. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a sleep study done? Okay, a few of you have. They’re terrible, by the way, okay? It’s such a bizarre thing because I guess my wife was saying I’m waking up dying in the middle of the night, like I’m gasping and all this stuff, “You need to have a sleep study,” so I’m like, “Okay, fine,” because apparently I’m not getting enough rest.
I go to get this sleep study done just a month or so ago, and it’s such a weird thing because they call me up and say, “Okay, it’s at this business office.” I’m like, “Oh, okay,” a slumber party at a business office? Weird, but okay, I’m in. I go to this business office. It’s 8 o’clock at night. I’ve got my Costco pillow—you know, those big ones that look like a couch that you carry with you—because you need your pillow when you go to sleep. I show up at this building, and there’s nobody there—no cars, nobody there.
It’s behind a 7-Eleven, and I’m thinking, This is really weird. I feel like I’m being set up for something, you know what I mean? I’m walking around…almost in my pj’s. It looks like I’m ready to go night-night, for sure. Finally, I’m walking around this building because the directions are: Look for the doorbell. I’m like, Look for the doorbell, a business office with a doorbell. Okay, fine. I couldn’t find a doorbell to save my life! Finally, some other gal got there and she was definitely in her pj’s—but no pillow. I saw her and asked, “Are you here for the sleep study?” She said, “Oh, I am, too.” I’m like, “Oh, great. Have you seen a doorbell?” “I know where it’s at. Come with me.” I say, “Okay.” Behind this bush is this doorbell. Finally, they let us in. I’m thinking, Of course! Why would you want a doorbell to be seen by everybody, that’s ridiculous.
Some people come out and grab us, and they take us back through the offices. You know, you go to the doctor’s office and usually there’s like a table, a chair, and something to lie on. This is all bedrooms, about seven bedrooms. The guy says, “You’re in the last one, the seventh bedroom.” I say, “Okay.” It’s really weird still. There’s a big bed there. I’ve got my Costco pillow, so I’m good to go. The whole night you’ve got these electrodes all over your body—your chest, face—determining if you’re dying in the middle of the night or not. I don’t think I slept the whole night. I’m in this weird place, in this weird building, in this weird bed; you know, my wife’s not there. I mean the whole thing is just weird. At least I have my Costco pillow, though.
By the time morning came, which was 5 a.m. (from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.), I had zero rest. I’m absolutely sure of it. I don’t remember closing my eyes. I was freaked out the whole time. I was scared somebody was going to come and take me. I didn’t rest at all. I don’t know how they can determine a whole sleep study from something that I’ve never slept, but apparently that’s part of this gimmick, I think, trying to determine that I don’t sleep at all.
As a society, we’re getting less and less rest in general. We have all these things to help us rest—iPhones, iPads, different things like house-smart devices to help us be more organized so we can hopefully have more time to rest—but do we? Do we have that time to rest?
In the Old Testament God set a whole day aside for the Israelites to rest. It was called the Shabbat in Hebrew or Sabbath here in English. It was a whole day that was set where they did no work at all and all they did was rest. I think now more than ever we need that day to come back almost, where we need to rest. We’re such a busy society. We’re such people that are on the run—just go, go, go—every day it seems. We see more conflict with religious rulers when it comes to the Sabbath than any other issue when it comes to Jesus in the New Testament. Why is this Sabbath thing such a big deal? Why are they always up in arms about Jesus breaking the Sabbath? Over and over we see this.
Let’s take a look tonight at the Sabbath-breaker Jesus, in Matthew 12. Is He really a Sabbath breaker or not? The title of our message is “The Lord Of The Sabbath.” This account of the breaking of the Shabbat or Sabbath is recorded in all three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They all record this exact same event of breaking the Sabbath, so they think. We’ve broken down our study into two parts. The first part is going to be the Lord of the Sabbath proclaimed, verses 1-8; the second portion of our study is going to be the Lord of the Sabbath displayed, verses 9-14.
Let’s look at verse 1 together. “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!’” Jesus and His disciples are going through the grain fields (it could be corn fields as well, the word is kind of the same in Greek); and as they’re going through, they’re picking up these grains, rubbing them together, blowing off the husk, and eating them as they go. They were probably on their way to synagogue, it’s where they’re going to end up for sure, and these disciples are hungry. They’re hungry. There’s no place to stop along the way, so they’re grabbing these ears of corn or these husks of wheat and eating them along the way.
Notice that Jesus isn’t one of those who’s eating. The Pharisees’ complaint are, “Your disciples are breaking the Sabbath.” They weren’t claiming that Jesus was, they’re saying, “Hey, Your disciples are breaking the Sabbath. Tell them to stop.” Breaking the Sabbath in their mind is that they’re harvesting. As they’re going through this field, the disciples are harvesting grain, and they’re working. Remember, you’re not supposed to work on the Sabbath, you’re supposed to rest. We’ll talk more about that in a second. The Pharisees thought that they were breaking the law of the Sabbath.
What is the Sabbath? What is the Shabbat? Where does it come from? Why is it such a big deal? The word “Shabbat” (or Sabbath) in Hebrew means rest. It’s all it means. It means rest. It started off with God in Genesis 2 where God created all things in six days, and on the seventh day He rested. It wasn’t like God rested because He was tired. It wasn’t like God said, “Whew! That was a long six days! I’m so glad I have time for this.” It’s not “rest” in that sense as much as it’s He looked over His creation or He mused over His creation and said, “Ah! What I’ve done is good.” He wasn’t resting like He was tired, but it says that God is the One that rested. Man wasn’t even involved at all in the first part of Shabbat. In the first initiation of Shabbat, man wasn’t even part of the whole story, it was all about God, and God rested.
It wasn’t mentioned until Exodus 16. Later on, we see that God was giving manna from heaven to the children of Israel as they’re going through the wilderness for forty years. As they did so, God told them, “Hey, listen. You can gather for six days. On the seventh day, this restriction is in place.” So, it started with God, it came in Exodus 16 as a restriction, as the manna came down for six days they gathered and God told them on the sixth day, “You gather that manna. Take twice as much for the Sabbath because you can’t gather on the Sabbath. If you do, it’ll be stinky and full of worms, so don’t do it.” Of course, what did they do? They did, and it was smelly and they said, “This is wrong.” God gave them that restriction for that, but there was no commandment yet for the Shabbat, the Sabbath. It wasn’t until Exodus 20 where one of the Ten Commandments God said, “Remember the Sabbath day and make it holy.” It was our fourth commandment in the two tablets.
We see the Shabbat, the Sabbath, started off with God and really wasn’t given to man until later on in Exodus 20 in the Ten Commandments where it’s observed by man. God gives this day to them by taking away that day. Do you know what I mean? He says, “I’m going to give you this day by taking away everything in that day. All you have to do is rest. All you have to do is look back at My creation. Look what I’ve done.” God was blessing man by giving him the Shabbat, this rest, this Sabbath day for them to relax and don’t work. Just hang out. Look what all that God has done.
Look at Jesus’ response to this supposed Sabbath breaking in verse 3, “But He said to them,”—talking to the Pharisees—“‘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?’”
Jesus gives them these two examples that they’re not breaking the Sabbath law. The first example is about David and his men. David, when he was leaving after Saul tried to kill him, said, “I’m leaving,” and took a few of the men with him. He went to Ahimelech, and Ahimelech said, “You know what? You’ve come to the house of God. There is no food here.” They were starving, “Man, we’re so hungry we’ll eat anything,” that kind of feeling. Have you ever felt that way? David felt that way, and his men said, “We’re starving to death!” You know, everything is extreme. Ahimelech said, “We don’t have anything here.” He said, “We have nothing here except the showbread that’s meant for God and not for man.” David says, “Just give it to us. It’s okay.” Ahimelech gave it to David, and David ate with his men there. There was a reason. There are some allowances for the breaking of Shabbat, so to say.
Jesus gives them a second example of the priests in their temple service. Remember, in those days over two thousand years ago when Jesus was there in Jerusalem and throughout the earlier thousands of years also, the way that your sins were covered was the death of an animal. The only person working on Shabbat was the priest. Everybody else had to rest, but the priests had to work. They had to slit the throat of the animal, put fire underneath the animal, light the menorah, the candelabra, that was there inside the tabernacle and into the temple after that. They had to work. They worked the whole time, but there was an allowance for them. Jesus is showing these Pharisees, “Listen, you know what? You’re taking this in understanding the Shabbat wrongly. You don’t understand that there are allowances.” They had distorted the original intent and original purpose of the Shabbat, the Sabbath. It was to rest. It wasn’t to get so legalistic about these little things because you’re having some grain along the way. It’s not a big deal.
After the children of Israel left Babylon, that’s where the Mishnah and the Talmud, these other commentaries on the Old Testament law, came into being. That’s where the Pharisees most likely came from, too, out from Babylon. “Pharisee” means separate ones. They started off good because they wanted to be separate from the Babylonians, but from that that’s where they gave extra rules to the law. They said, “Well, what is work? Work is when you carry a load that’s over such-and-such pounds, when you walk a distance that’s over so-and-so miles. This is what work is.” They gave definitions and the minutiae of the law. From this time of law, that’s where they understood this is how we come about by saying what is allowed and what is not allowed. The Mishnah and the Talmud were not given by God—they weren’t written by God, they weren’t from God—they’re written by man.
Even today in Israel there are those who observe Shabbat. For us, Gentiles, we don’t really understand Shabbat or the Sabbath as well, but Sabbath started at sundown on Friday night. If you were in Israel at that time, in the early days thousands of years ago, they would blow a trumpet and say, “Prepare for Shabbat.” That first trumpet would let you know to start locking up the store, start packing some stuff up. The second blowing of the shofar would say, “Okay, Shabbat has started. No more work. Everybody relax.” That’s when they would go home, eat all the food prepared for them, and it would be a glorious time. It started at sundown and went all the way until the next day for sundown. “Why,” you ask? It’s such a good question. It’s because in Genesis 1 it says on day one that evening and morning came and it was day one. On day two, it says and evening and morning came, and it was day two.
For the Jews even today, evening and morning is one day for them. Their day starts at sundown. Just like in Israel, if you go to Israel today, Shabbat starts at sundown and continues on. They’ve found ways to get around this whole idea of work. In Israel today, when you go to hotels, because a lot of the Jews will go to hotels, a lot of the orthodox and the ultra orthodox will come as well and those who will take the law literally. They are the ones you see in black and white—they’ll have a white shirt, black pants, black coat with a black hat with little tassels or tzitzits where they would play with their fingers or pull their hair from this point. You can tell those are the ultra orthodox.
In those hotels they have what’s called “Shabbat elevators” because you can’t stay in a hotel and get to your room without causing “work.” By the push of a button, it causes a spark, you’ve called the elevator, so you’ve caused work. What they work around is, which is pretty funny, they have the “Shabbat elevators.” This elevator opens and stops at every floor. It opens for five seconds, closes (you’re either in or you’re out), and then goes to the next floor. It goes all the way up; it goes all the way down. On Friday nights, when we get into Israel, we get to some hotels, we always tell all the tourists, “Hey, guys, don’t get in the Shabbat elevator because if you’re up on floor 21, it’s going to take you a long time to get there.” Sure enough, after every time I tell them, “Oh look! There’s an empty elevator.” I’m like, “Don’t do it, don’t do it. Oh, too late,” and they’re stopping at every floor, every floor.
In those hotels they also have “Shabbat lights” as well. You can’t turn on a light because, again, that causes that same spark or causing work, so the lights are on all day, and they turn off at ten o’clock at night, whether you want them to or not because you’re not causing it to go off and on, it does it by itself. They have work-arounds around this whole idea of Shabbat, even in Israel today. There’s a neighborhood called Mea Shearim. It’s all ultra orthodox, and if you drive a car down there or for some reason your bus gets lost or something, they’ll throw rocks at you because you’re causing combustion to come through their neighborhood. You see, this whole idea of Shabbat has traveled from those thousands of years until now.
If you remember in Jesus’ time, He spent a lot of time at Mary and Martha’s house, Lazarus’ house, right? That was the exact point of distance from the temple that you could travel without breaking the Sabbath. I don’t know if you knew that, there in Bethany, that’s the exact distance that they could go without breaking the Sabbath. You could walk to and fro without breaking the Sabbath.
Jesus never broke the Sabbath in the original sense of what the Sabbath was created for. At some point He did kind of lend to some of their Pharisees and some of the different small ideas of what was interpreted from the Mishnah and the Talmud, but for the most part Jesus understands what the Shabbat is all about.
Notice in our story, Jesus wasn’t eating the corn; He wasn’t eating the wheat, just the disciples were. Jesus is defending them with these two examples. In verse 6, it goes on, “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.” Jesus is claiming to be better than the temple. This would’ve floored them, by saying, “You’re better than the temple? How could You be better than the temple? The temple is magnificent! It’s taken 40 years to build, and You’re better than the temple? Better than the priests? Better than the sacrifice? Better than everything that goes on in this temple? How can that be?” Jesus is saying, “I am better than all of that.” Jesus is going to take away the temple service and the temple sacrifice and give His life as that sacrifice. Soon, Jesus was going to take all of that away.
Could you imagine? You’re a Jew, and you’ve been going to temple year after year after year, week after week, after special festival every month, and all of the sudden this young rabbi comes on the scene and says, “Pretty soon, none of this is going to be needed anymore.” Do you know how hard it would be to believe this young rabbi, this guy in his thirties saying, “You know what? This is all for naught. I know for thousands of years you have done this, but pretty soon this won’t work. It won’t take away your sins. It won’t cover your sins. It won’t be the way to get to God.” Do you know how hard it would be to believe that? I mean, I think it would be tough. Jesus is showing and telling them, “Hey, you know what? Someone greater than the temple is here,” and then tells them the most important part, the heart of God, God desires, “…mercy,”—or love—“and not sacrifice.” Don’t look for a way to say, “I’m sorry,” and try to give sacrifice, but instead look to be obedient, look to act in love because God desires love, not sacrifice.
Jesus goes on in verse 8 and tells them, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Jesus is proclaiming that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. He is essentially doing away with all the Judaic practices, rules, and restrictions—He’s taking away all of it. It’s pretty amazing because if you think about it, all the Ten Commandments made it to the New Testament in one form or another, except the fourth commandment, except the Shabbat, except the Sabbath day, in keeping it holy, remembering it. All the other ones came in because they’re all moral laws, but the Shabbat, the Sabbath, wasn’t a moral law, it was for them. But now Jesus is saying, “I am that rest for you. I am the Lord of that rest,” and He’s taking away all of that. The only one Ten Commandment that didn’t make it in there was this Shabbat commandment, to keep it holy.
Many believe that we should keep Sabbath even today. Maybe you’ve run into some people nowadays and say, “Hey, you guys aren’t doing it right. You should be meeting on Saturday. You guys are doing it wrong meeting on Sunday.” You know, the Shabbat has been done away with, and those who do that are called sabbatarians, if you’re wondering. A lot of the Seventh-day Adventist’s are that way. They’ll say, “You have to worship on Saturday only. Sunday’s the devil, don’t do it.” That’s their idea of it.
Why do we meet on Sunday? That’s a good question. Here’s why we meet on Sunday. We meet on Sunday because Jesus rose on Sunday. That’s the first day of the week. It had no significance, by the way, until Jesus rose on it; other than that, it was, “Yeah, that’s the first day of the week. Okay, so what?” But when Jesus rose on that day, it made it significant. And, on Pentecost, Acts 2, guess what day it was when the Holy Spirit came and descended upon the disciples and they spoke in tongues. It was also that first day of the week, it was Sunday.
Later on, Acts 20, Paul talks about taking an offering, on the day that you’re meeting, that first day of the week. From the beginning of the resurrection of Jesus until now, all the believers have always met on Sunday, not just here in America but all over the world, even in Israel the believers meet on Sunday, so we do the same. It’s because the early church met on Sunday, so we meet on Sunday, too. It was the birth of the church, so we’re still holding onto that. Some will say, “Hey, you shouldn’t do it. You should be doing it on this day or that day,” and I like what Paul says in Colossians 2:16-17. He says, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
We’ve looked at the Lord of the Sabbath proclaimed, verses 1-8, now let’s look at the Lord of the Sabbath displayed, verses 9-14. Verse 9 says this, “Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’—that they might accuse Him.” They probably came straight away from these fields into this synagogue. It could’ve been this day or it could’ve been another day. They came to the synagogue.
In Luke’s account of the same exact story, it said that the Pharisees wanted to watch Jesus to see what He would do. They may have even brought this man in with the withered hand that he couldn’t straighten out and there was something wrong with it. All the Pharisees sat back and said, “Don’t do it, Jesus. Don’t You dare do it. Don’t You heal on the Sabbath.” Of course, when Jesus came in, it also says in Luke’s gospel that He knew what they were thinking, I know what you’re thinking. Remember, Jesus just said that He was Lord of the Sabbath, so now He’s going to show that He’s able to display that He is Lord of the Sabbath as well.
Verse 11, “Then He said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.” Wow! Can you picture the scene? Jesus shows their lack of love in legalism on the Sabbath day. It was made for man. “Wouldn’t you help someone if you could on the Sabbath?” Jesus says. Jesus knew their heart and said to them, “Which is easier, to help someone out of a hole or to say to this man, ‘Stretch out your hand,’ and make it whole?” That’s what He does. He says, “Stretch out your hand,” and it becomes whole. Again, the Pharisees are thinking that He’s breaking the Sabbath. Here he is in front of everybody, stretching out his hand.
Maybe this guy, as he was brought in thought, Man, I wonder what they’re going to make fun of me about? or I wonder why they’re bringing me in? Here he is, and Jesus tells him, “Stretch out your hand.” He is able to stretch out his hand like never before saying, “Man!” He proves that this is His day. Jesus is proving that this day is His day, He is the Lord of the Sabbath.
Verse 14 goes on, “Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.” This is the start of the religious rulers and leaders, the Pharisees, wanting to kill Jesus because of this, because He broke the Shabbat, the Sabbath. This is why they started to want to kill Him. He didn’t fit the mold of the Messiah that they wanted Him to, so now they are deciding, “We must kill Him.” This is the beginning of it. Of course, it’s going to end there at the cross of Christ where He dies. They crucify Him altogether.
First Jesus proclaims He is the Lord of the Sabbath, then He proves He’s the Lord of the Sabbath by healing a withered hand. Remember, the Shabbat, or Sabbath, means rest. Jesus is saying that He is our rest—He is our complete rest. In Greek this word “Lord” is kyrios, and it means master. Jesus is essentially saying, “I am the Master of rest.” He is the Lord of the Sabbath. Because it’s His day, He can do whatever He wants on His day. He is the Lord of the Sabbath. He is the One who gives that rest; He determines who gets that rest. Jesus is saying that He is—and is completely—that Sabbath rest. He is our rest, but do we rest in Him?
There are two questions that we need to answer for true rest if Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath of our lives. First, are we taking time to rest? We’re so busy as people. We’re running here, running there. I find myself doing the same thing. I had the day off on Tuesday, the 4th of July, and I’m still flying as fast as I can to the gym. I mean, it’s open all day, bro. There’s nothing happening after, just take your time. We’re so used to going, going, going, fast, fast, fast, that we don’t take that time to rest. We need to take that time to rest. We have all these things to help us with our time, but do we have things that will help to remind of us rest? Maybe we need to take our iPhones and say, “Hey, Siri, remind me to rest.” Maybe we need that reminder so we do it.
Our priorities are lopsided in many cases. We’re out of balance when it comes to rest, that we don’t have that part of our daily activity to rest, or part of our week to rest. Maybe it’s just a low priority, it’s just not high enough. How many times I’ve had people say, “Hey, how come God doesn’t work like He did in the Old Testament?” or “How come I never hear from God?” A lot of times we are so busy, we don’t slow down enough to hear from Him, you know? We’re just going, going, going, but we don’t give that time to rest.
Jesus had that same proclamation to Martha when Martha was busy about serving and Mary was at the feet of Jesus. Jesus told Martha, “Martha, Martha, you’re busy about so much. What’s needful is to rest. He said, “Do what Mary’s doing,” sit at His feet and to rest.
Many of us are heavy-laden with the weight of the world on our backs, it would seem. The cares of this world are overwhelming us, and we’re so worried that we can’t rest. But we need to find that place of rest. We need to take that time to rest. I don’t know what rest looks like for you, maybe it’s taking a walk or going to a park, maybe it’s going to the beach. I love going to the beach. I wish we were closer to the beach. I lived in South LA all my life, and I took for granted the beach was five minutes from my house—every day. I know when I go to the beach, that’s a place of rest for me. I can sit there and watch the waves come in. It sets my soul at rest. Maybe it’s something else for you. Maybe it’s something that doesn’t cause your mind and everything to keep running and going and going. Sometimes for me it’s just sitting in the backyard staring at the pool or maybe just hanging in a “donut” in the pool just resting, and I have time to think about God. Do you have that time where you stop and rest, you think about God and take that time aside and say, “Okay, this is devoted to God. I’m going to rest.” Well, it’s important for us to do so.
The second question we need to answer is, are we resting in Him? Are we resting in the Lord of the Sabbath? If you’re still in Matthew 12, turn back one chapter to Matthew 11:28-30. It says this, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,”—that’s the same word, Shabbat. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Here’s our first steps to true rest. If we’re going to have Jesus be the Lord of our rest, the Lord over that for us, the first thing, we need to come to Him. That’s that taking that time. We need to come to Him. Take that time to come to Him, and nothing and nobody else.
This world tells us that we’ll find rest in something else—drugs, alcohol, or something like that that says, “This will give you rest.” We know that those who have “tasted and seen,” that never gives us rest. I was a drug dealer, criminal, crazy person for too long, and I never rested. I think if we all attested that we’ve had maybe a little shady background like that, I never felt at rest. I was always looking over my shoulder. I was always wondering what was going to happen next. There was no rest. True rest only comes in Jesus, but we have to come to Him. Come to Him, that’s where that rest is, and He will give you rest. Notice the result, it says that He will give you true rest.
The second thing we need to do as we come to Him is take His yoke upon us. We need to take His yoke upon us. We’re trading our yoke for His yoke. It’s a great exchange for us, let me tell you. We take our heavy-laden burdens and problems and the cares and concerns of this world and we trade that for Jesus’ burden. We take this backpack full of heaviness and Jesus gives us an empty bag full of nothing, just love, grace, goodness, joy, peace. That’s what He gives us. We need to take that yoke from Him, and we give Him ours. This is the great exchange that we can do.
We come to Him, we take His yoke, and thirdly, we want to learn from Him. When I first got saved, after I came to Him, I wanted to learn about this Jesus who could take away my sins. I couldn’t believe it because I’d spent all my life sinning and now all of the sudden Jesus takes away my sins? I want to learn about Him. Do you want to learn about Him? Do you want to learn how Jesus can take away your sins because I did. I’ve been a pastor for 27 years now. I’ve been a Christian for almost 29, and I’m still learning how God can do that, how God wants to work in my life. I’m still learning who Jesus is. I’m still learning about His character of who He is.
Notice it says that part of who He is—He’s gentle, He’s humble in heart. That’s the humility knowing there’s nothing you can do and that God is in control. We’ve given Him our burdens, we’ve given Him our problems, and now He is in control. Look at the result it says there, “…and you will find rest for your souls,” not might, you will. If it feels like you’ve had all the worries, cares, and concerns beyond your circumstances, then Jesus is not being the Lord of your rest. If you’re still holding onto those burdens…it’s something that you can’t fake because true rest only comes from Him. You may say, “Yes, I’ve given my burdens to Him. Yes, I’ve given Him all,” but unless you turn around and find that your backpack is empty because you’ve given it to Him, then you haven’t truly given it to Him. You’ll know that you’ve really given all your burdens to Him because you can rest, you can relax. Even though whatever is going on in your life—cancer, finances, relationships, all of that—once we give all those to Him, then He can give us rest.
If you don’t find yourself resting, then you haven’t really given it to Him or you’ve taken it back. You said, “Yes, Jesus, here You go, and I’ll take that back, thank You. I’ll hold that for You. Let me know when You need it back again.” We need to give it to Him and let go saying, “Okay, God, here’s Your problems,” because God’s bought me with a price and, because of that, all my problems are His problems, so that burden is all for Him. He gets to do whatever He likes with it. Once you’ve given it to Him, you know you can’t fake it because you truly have that rest. Then Jesus really is the Lord of the Sabbath in your life because you have that rest, and that’s what He wants to be.
Jesus took the Judaic system, and everything throughout history when it came to worshiping God, He took it to an end. He fulfilled it all. Now He says, “I am now the Lord of the rest, the Lord of the Sabbath.” He can do whatever He wants with that. The first thing He wants us to do is to come to Him, to give that problem, those issues, to Him, then He wants to give us rest. You know when you’ve done it because you have that burden lifted, you know your faith is strengthened. We need to take that time to rest in the Lord.
Before, in the Old Testament, you were to rest, take that day, and think about the Creator. Now, in the New Testament, we’re to take that time, take that rest, and think about our Redeemer—Creator before, yes, but now our Redeemer. Look what Jesus has done for us. Look how He has become that Lord of rest for us. Notice the Shabbat rest started with God and now finishes with Jesus. It started with God in Genesis 2 and now finishes with Jesus in Matthew 12. It started with God, and it finished with Jesus, “…the author and finisher of our faith.” He is our true rest. He is the One that we can count on to lift those burdens from us.
But only you know if you really have or not. Maybe you need to come to Him. Maybe you’re here tonight and you’ve never come to Jesus. Maybe you need to come to Him. He’s been tugging on your heart strings saying, “Come, come. Your burden is too heavy. Your yoke is too heavy. Come. I want to give you rest.” Maybe that’s who you are today, and you need to do that. You need to take that step and say, “Okay, God, I need to give this to You. It’s too much. It’s weighing me down. I’m not going anywhere. I need Your help.” If that’s the case, we’re going to spend some more time in worship. We’re going to spend some time resting, and we’re going to ask God to help us, help us to find that rest and to find that place where we can just take that breath and say, “Okay, God.” As we do so during our time of extended worship, maybe give that heavy-laden burden to Him. Offer it to Him because He wants it. Let’s pray.
Pastor Taige Ronan teaches an expository message from Matthew 12:1-14 titled, “Lord of the Sabbath.”