Passage: Matthew 12:1-21
9. a. I believe they did not break the law, because they were picking the heads of grain to eat them, not harvesting a field. It was not unlawful to eat on the Sabbath. The Pharisees had made the law extremely burdensome, adding ridiculous, minute details to an otherwise simple and straightforward law.
b. Jesus asked, “Haven’t you read…” concerning two instances in scripture where the letter of the law took a back seat rather than allow starvation. The consecrated bread eaten by David and his men was day-old bread. Jesus points out the spirit of the law just as He often pointed out what was in man’s heart. The Pharisees pointed out the letter of law per their strict definition, but their hearts lacked the love, compassion, and mercy of God.
Again, I like the Message version of the Bible here— “There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this Scripture meant—‘I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’—you wouldn’t be nitpicking like this. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.” Matthew 12:6-8
c. Jesus made an object lesson out of healing the man’s crippled or deformed hand. The Pharisees were trying to trip him up by asking Him a baiting question. Jesus points out that they would allow someone to save livestock from sustaining injury, yet define healing a man as unlawful. Jesus said, “Surely kindness to people is as legal as kindness to animals!” (MSG)
d. Jesus wants us to focus on getting our own hearts in line with His rather than focusing on following rules and rituals (religion). And especially not looking for specs in the eyes of others.