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Sermon Notes

Matthew’s Themes:

  • Jesus is the King
  • We are Part of Jesus’ New Kingdom
  • Jesus Teaches Us How to Live in this Kingdom

Matthew is writing for people who are

  • Geographically removed from Jesus
  • Chronologically removed from Jesus
  • Interested in the life of Jesus

Structures of Power and Authority in the Jewish Religion

  • The Scriptures – The Book
  • The Temple – The Place
  • The Sabbath – The Time

Key Point: Religious traditions can be meaningful. But Jesus teaches us that people are more important than religious traditions.

1. Jesus’ conflict with the Pharisees intensifies with differing interpretations of the SabbathMatthew 12:1-2, 12:9-14

Jesus and the Sabbath Controversies of the Gospel

  • Jesus encounters a need (a non-emergency)
  • Jesus meets the need on the Sabbath
  • Jesus is criticized for His actions
  • Jesus responds to His critics resolutely

Remember: People are more valuable than rituals.

2. Jesus, once again, appeals to the Old Testament literature to help make sense of God’s design

  • Jesus mentions historical moments
  • Jesus refers to a passage that is on topic

Jesus’ Hermeneutics (meaning how to interpret a document):

  • When understanding an issue, you cannot just pick verses at random
  • Jesus is the final authority

3. Jesus desires mercy over and above sacrifice

Kindness (חֶסֶד) – kindness of men towards men, in doing favors and benefits
Mercy (ἔλεος) – kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them

4. Ultimately, Jesus is our restMatthew 11:28-30

Point to Ponder: We must constantly ask this question: Is the ritual helpful or hurtful to people.

Discussion Questions


  1. In this passage Jesus responded to the religious leader’s questions about the how to celebrate the Sabbath. Pastor Rusty suggests that a primary difference in the interpretations of the religious leaders and Jesus was how Jesus saw people as more valuable than rituals. Why are some folks more prone to valuing rituals than people?
  2. What does the fact that the priests were permitted to work on the Sabbath and weren’t breaking God’s laws mean? How does it help us understand the balance between keeping every part of God’s rules and understanding the point of the rules?
  3. Pastor Rusty makes the point that we cannot pick random verses and apply them to random situations? What is the danger of doing that to support our presuppositions?
  4. What do you think it meant when Jesus said he desires mercy over sacrifice? Why did Jesus go out of his way to make this point?
  5. Pastor Rusty suggests that what helps in our obedience to God is just being helpful.
  6. What do you think the Sabbath, or a day of rest, means for believers today?
  7. The law was given to help us serve God, he never intended for us to serve the law itself. How can we guard against taking legitimate rules and turning them into misguided requirements that neither honor God nor fulfill their original purpose?
  8. In the verses that precede today’s text Jesus uttered the famous words, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Jesus is teaching us that he is our ultimate source of rest. What does it mean to you that Jesus welcomes us when we are overwhelmed and that he can give us rest?


  • How can you combat the human tendency to value rules more than people? What rule do you need to tear down? What person do you need to lift up?
  • Write down three ways you are going to try to value people over rules this week.
  • How does God want us to celebrate a Sabbath as a day of rest? Jot down two ways you can incorporate rest into your weekly Sunday practice.
  • List three practical ways you will show mercy to people this week? Develop a plan for how you are going to put these into practice.
  • Ask God to help you become a person who focuses on people more than rules and who is eager to show mercy to others.