Jesus deals with the problem of “being religious” head on. The religious elites were giving his disciples a hard time about breaking a rule. Jesus establishes that He is in charge.
That is the central issue to be dealt with.
- Do I believe Jesus is in charge (the Master) and act on it?
- Will I believe it today or default to religious rules and procedures?
- Am I willing to be a slave of Jesus?
God is God. He is absolutely in control. He has given all authority to His son Jesus.
“The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!” ~Jesus Matthew 12:6-8 (The Message Bible)
In declaring Himself “Master of the Sabbath,” Jesus was actually affirming equality with God; for God had established the Sabbath. He then proved this claim by healing the man with the paralyzed hand. It is sad that the religious leaders used this man and his handicap as a weapon to fight against Jesus. But the Master was not afraid of their threats. Not doing good on the Sabbath Day (or any other day) is the same as doing evil. Jesus argued that if a farmer could care for his animals on the Sabbath, shouldn’t we care for man, made in the image of God?
They responded to this deliberate challenge by plotting to kill Him. They had accused Him of blasphemy when He healed the paralytic, and of lack of separation when He ate with Matthew’s friends. But this deed was even worse. He had deliberately violated the law of God! He had worked on the Sabbath by harvesting grain and healing a man.
Jesus’ response to their hatred was withdrawal. He did not openly fight His enemies but fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 42:1–4. His enemies were but broken reeds and smoking flax. Note the double mention of the Gentiles, another hint from Matthew that Israel would reject her King and the kingdom would go to the Gentiles.
The Master’s withdrawal at this point is an anticipation of His “retirement” described in Matthew 14–20. During that time, Jesus avoided direct conflict with His enemies that He might stay on the “divine timetable” and be crucified on schedule. Also, during that time, He taught His disciples and prepared them for His crucifixion.