“For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath."
In His encounters with the religious body of Israel, the Master often discussed the details of Torah observances and most especially those concerning the Sabbath. It is the common understanding of Christians to assume that Yeshua broke the Sabbath because as they say 'He annulled the Instructions God gave at Sinai'. The problem with that is that not only it flies in the face of His own teaching which says that, “whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments (The Torah) and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19), but it also contradict God’s injunction that anyone who breaks the Torah not only cannot be the Messiah but is also a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18). Christian Sabbaterians also argue that Yeshua did not break the Sabbath, only the traditions of the scribes and the Pharisees, but that doesn't make sense either since the Master’s justification for His actions came from the same set of mishnaic oral tradition teachings the scribes and the Pharisees used.
The verse, For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8) sheds some light on the situation. Yeshua often referred to Himself using the expression ‘Son of Man’ (Daniel 7:13). A problem with that is that ‘son of man’, in Hebrew, ‘ben-adam’ also means ‘human being’ in general. In our text Yeshua seems to use the expression in a very general way. As a recognized Rabbi with disciples, it was perfectly legal for Yeshua to establish rulings on Sabbath observance. Even today in Judaism religious leaders differ in their opinions of details of commandment applications and people are free to follow their favorite rabbi. The problem was that a few certain Rabbis (not all, as many honored Yeshua as in the case of Nicodemus) simply did not agree with Yeshua.
The situation was very irritating for Yeshua’s doctrinal opponents, but they could not do anything against Him because even His justifications came from the teachings of the Talmud. What the Master taught was simple. Even though it was already understood that any issues regarding life and death superseded Torah commandments, even the Talmud agrees that it is right to do good on the Sabbath, ‘good’ in the Yeshua's teaching also meant to alleviate human suffering such as hunger and pain provoked by disease. What we have here is typical religious legal debate.
The Apostolic texts tell us that Yeshua is ‘the brightness of His (Hashem’s) glory, and the express image of His (God’s) person (Hebrews 1:3).). What Yeshua teaches us through these encounters is that the Father in Heaven is full of mercy and compassion for His children (Exodus 34:6-7) and that the form of obedience He requires from us is not hard, rigid, and cold, but leaves room for what the Scriptures call the ‘weightier matters’ (more important) and elements of the Torah which are, ‘justice and mercy’ (Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 23:23).
As Yeshua perfectly emulated the Father so we could know His love, compassion, and mercy, may we also perfectly emulate Yeshua that the world around us may know the Father‘s love, compassion, and mercy.
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