Intro: There is a Hebrew word I would like to share with you that is relevant for us, today—להשוות or lehashvot—which basically translates in English as equate, match, or compare. In our passage, the Pharisees have taken the Commands or Word of God and are endeavoring to judge others. The Pharisees are holding up the letter of the law, but are missing God’s intent, as well as their own hypocrisy—they have a double standard for acceptable conduct. That will always happen when people use themselves as the standard rather than God.
Gleaning or plucking grain and taking it from a neighbor’s field was permitted on the Sabbath when people were hungry (Deut 23:25). However, harvesting—laboring for the purpose of making money—was not permitted on the Sabbath. Jesus speaks the truth to defend his disciples against their accusers.
Interestingly, the Pharisees are actually the ones guilty of violating the Sabbath by their lack of mercy and compassion for others. The words and actions of Jesus are about the intent of the law—helping God’s people display his holy character and principles. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath and our purpose is to serve and worship God. The intent of the Sabbath is to gather and connect people to Christ as worshipers.
Although we can witness a double standard—a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups in our world—this should never be the behavior of God’s children. Pray and run from that evil spirit. As Christ’s followers, we are to be consistent in honor and respect; filled with compassion and mercy because Christ is our standard. We are to first judge [evaluate] ourselves before judging others. It reminds me of something Jesus said, “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye, when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (Mat 7:3-5).
Matthew 12:1-8 Amplified Bible
1 At that particular time Jesus went through the fields of standing grain on the Sabbath; and His disciples were hungry, and they began to pick off the spikes of grain and to eat.
2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, See there! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful and not permitted on the Sabbath.
3 He said to them, Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, and those who accompanied him—
4 How he went into the house of God and ate the loaves of the showbread—which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for the men who accompanied him, but for the priests only?
5 Or have you never read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple violate the sanctity of the Sabbath [breaking it] and yet are guiltless?
6 But I tell you, Something greater and more exalted and more majestic than the temple is here!
7 And if you had only known what this saying means, I desire mercy [readiness to help, to spare, to forgive those in distress] rather than sacrifice and sacrificial victims, you would not have condemned the guiltless.
8 For the Son of Man is Lord [even] of the Sabbath.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for helping us better understand how we must conduct ourselves as your worshipers in the midst of a world filled with double-standards. May we emulate a spirit of mercy and compassion using Jesus as our standard. In Jesus’ name. Amen.