Read Matthew 12:1-21.
Devotion by: Yvonne Diez Peters
Lord of the Sabbath
While there are many stories within stories in this narrative regarding the sacrificial duties of keeping the Sabbath, Jesus focuses the attention of the self-righteous Pharisees to the condition of their hearts.
“I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.” Matthew 12:7
The word Sabbath is derived from a Hebrew word meaning to cease, desist, to rest. It is first introduced in Genesis 2 as the seventh day after Creation—the day God Himself ceased, desisted and rested from all His work. Never was the Sabbath intended to become a burden. On the contrary, it was to be a delight and certainly not an excuse to withhold mercy and kindness. As I look deeply into my own heart, I wonder how many opportunities I have missed to show mercy because of my self-righteousness. Let me share one with you.
When I encounter beggars with signs asking for money I try to ignore them, refuse to look at them, and run an internal dialogue in my mind that goes something like this: “They will probably use this money for drugs or alcohol. Surely they can find some kind of work if they used the time they hang out here to find a job.” It is then, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I realize my self-righteousness has become a shield and an excuse for a hard heart.
I am learning in these days to keep at least one five-dollar bill folded in my wallet and when I encounter those who need mercy, to freely give it. God is responsible for what they do with the provision. He remains not only the Lord of the Sabbath but more importantly, the Lord of my heart.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17