Matthew 12:1-21

LAST WEEK what invitation were we left with?  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I
will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will
find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
1) In the bible, what is a yoke referring to?
On an animal, the yoke balances the burden and makes it easier to manage. In addition to its literal meaning, the concept
of a yoke also appears in many scriptures as a metaphor for burdens, bondage or servitude.
2) What burdens you and makes you weary at work?
Work – Unnecessary procedures.
3) What burdens you and makes you weary in your personal life?
Personal – Unfairness, someone “lording it over” others, rules that make no sense.
THIS WEEK: continued opposition AND the heavy yoke of Pharisee tradition that made the people weary and
1 At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began
breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. 2 But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your
disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.” 3 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the
Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He went into the house of God, and he and his
companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. 5 And haven’t you
read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? 6 I tell you, there is one here
who is even greater than the Temple! 7 But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the
meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ 8 For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the
9 Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, 10 where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus,
“Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could
bring charges against him.) 11 And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you
work to pull it out? Of course, you would. 12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits
a person to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So, the man held out his hand,
and it was restored, just like the other one! 14 Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus. (kill – the
Greek word has several meanings, this is a strong interpretation, might mean get rid of his influence, etc.)
4) V1-2 Who were the Pharisees and what things were highly important to them?
Pharisees were a group of Jews whose response to Hellenism was zeal channeled into devotion to obedience to the
scripture. That’s why Pharisees were hard on sinners, “You’re the reason Rome is still here.” It’s a worldview that if we
would be obedient enough God will save us.
5) V3-4 This refers to I Samuel 21:1-6. What happened in this I Samuel passage?
This is when David was running from Saul: 1 David went to the town of Nob to see Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech
trembled when he saw him. “Why are you alone?” he asked. “Why is no one with you?” 2“The king has sent me on a
private matter,” David said. “He told me not to tell anyone why I am here. I have told my men where to meet me later.
3Now, what is there to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have.” 4“We don’t have any regular

bread,” the priest replied. “But there is the holy bread, which you can have if your young men have not slept with any
women recently.” 5“Don’t worry,” David replied. “I never allow my men to be with women when we are on a campaign.
And since they stay clean even on ordinary trips, how much more on this one!”
QUESTION: What do you think Jesus’ point was? Human need takes precedence over ritual, even ritual that God had set
What’s the bigger truth behind this? First and foremost, God cares about people!
6) V5 This refers to instructions for priests in Numbers 28:9-11. What does Numbers say priests are to do? And
what was Jesus’ point?
9“On the Sabbath day, sacrifice two one-year-old male lambs with no defects. They must be accompanied by a grain
offering of four quarts of choice flour moistened with olive oil, and a liquid offering. 10This is the burnt offering to be
presented each Sabbath day, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its accompanying liquid offering.
Jesus point: The priests were required to do quite a bit of work on the Sabbath! So, . . .
7) In verses 6-8 Jesus tells them they don’t realize who they are dealing with. What two things did Jesus say that
infuriated the Pharisees?
.. there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! AND For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
8) V7 Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want
burnt offerings. What is Jesus point in quoting this?
He wants the Pharisees, as leaders, to care about people, not just follow the rules. Rule following is not what impresses
God, being merciful to other people is what God is looking for.
QUESTION: Does this mean we are free to do whatever we want? No, it means don’t be legalistic.
Example: Should you go to church/worship? Yes, but – Don’t go to church on Sunday and then be rude to your waiter or
waitress at Sunday lunch.
(And, be generous with your tip. Factor good tipping into your budget. Now I’m making rules! ��)
What’s the bigger truth behind this? For the Second time, God cares about people!
9) V9-14) What happened? What was Jesu point? And how did the Pharisees respond?
Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath.
For the third time, God cares about people!
The Pharisees were furious!
V1-8 Human need (hunger) should take precedence over ritual worship It’s about people!
V9-14 Human welfare (deformed hand) should also take precedence over ritual worship It’s about people!
Easy to pick on the Pharisees, but for you and me, what have I done or not done for a person’s needs and welfare.
Think about this, who “administers” the welfare system, church in America or the government? We’ve abdicated.

THE BIG QUESTION: What was the “Yoke” the Pharisees were so concerned about that was oppressive to everyday
The Sabbath, of all things! They had made something good, a day of rest, into a heavy burden.
Good – Sabbath observance was very important to the Jews.
Good – Sabbath was a uniquely Israelite institution that commemorated the creation of the cosmos and the creation of
Heavy Yoke – Jewish rules of conduct (oral traditions) concerning the Sabbath had become very detailed by Jesus' day
going far beyond what the Hebrew Bible taught.
Remember – after Babylonian captivity the Jews wanted to not forget God’s law, so this was their way to make sure they
were careful and didn’t disobey God.
– The Torah (the Law) had 613 laws, but the laws about Sabbath were fairly simple – Don’t work
– The Pharisees, in their good intentions to be obedient, developed the oral tradition as an outer fence around the
law to MAKE SURE they were obedient and added 3,000 rules. These were, after Jesus’ time, written down. It’s
called the Mishnah.
– Then the Jews developed an outer fence and around the Mishnah fence and the rules now totaled 6,000!
We call this extreme legalism, but they did this out of a desire to be obedient, to give a gift back to God. It, however, had
the effect of being extremely oppressive! A heavy, burdening yoke.
AND – to make matters worse, it all got political.
Two schools of thought/debate between > Rabbi Shemaih and Rabbi Hilliel> What are the most important laws?
Shemiah: Love the Lord you God with all your heart – and second – obey the sabbath (obedience)
Hilliel: Love the Lord your God with all your heart – and second – love your neighbor as yourself (people)
So, these Rabbis had Yokes – lenses – that they viewed God’s teaching.
QUESTION: Which rabbi did Jesus line up with? Hilliel. God loves people!
The Challenge: Jesus speaks of his for you as easy. What is the easy yoke and light burden that Jesus has just for you?
Define your Yoke. Start with: Love the Lord your God with all your heart – and – love your neighbor as yourself.
Drill down further, make it personal. Here are several questions to help you think:
What specific things can I do to bring the Kingdom of God into my circle of influence?
How can I show them that God is real and He loves them?
How can I partner with God in something He’s already doing?
What energizes me that can be helpful to others, that can show love to others?
Your yoke should be easy and your burden should be light!
Then think like a missionary. How can I widen my circle of people I come in contact with and show them the kingdom of