Walking with Jesus, not rules. Matthew 12.1-8
“You’re not the boss of me, Chrissy Todd!” she huffed through her six-year-old tears at me. From the ages of two to ten, I played every day with two other little girls who lived within three houses of me in Fremont, California. We played dolls, rode bikes, played games, roller-skated, had tea parties and fought. Fighting often resulted in hair pulling and even scratching! But I will never forget when Kimmy said those words to me, clearly in response to some bossy thing I had told her to do. Nonetheless, it was Leslie, Kimmy and me, together almost every day for eight years.
This last Friday, I attended an all-day women’s conference, Propel, that was powerfully inspirational, spurring 3,000+ women toward seeking and living out their God-given purposes and leadership callings. One of the songs we sang had the line “You are Lord of all.” We have reached a point in Jesus’ earthly ministry when the Jewish leaders were threatened by Jesus’ increasing popularity with the people. They began looking for ways to trip up Jesus, to catch him doing things they deemed seditious … Matthew will record here in chapter 12, they were looking to see “how they might destroy him”.
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And his disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” But he said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: ‘how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? ‘Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the guiltless.
For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”1
She looked at me and said, ‘You’re not the boss of me, Chrissy Todd!’
Jesus said to the accusing Pharisees, you are not the boss of me. I do what the Father has given me to do, with the authority he has bestowed upon me.
Jesus was announcing that he was greater than the Law, that which had been given to Moses, which the people endeavored to keep to be deemed righteous in God’s eyes. ‘Greater than the Law? How dare Jesus!
Of course, they were pointing to the fourth of the Commandments that God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”2 However, since that day 1000 years before, the Jewish leaders had taken one law and attached 39 different regulations to it, of what could and could not be done on the Sabbath. So was it God who gave the ‘keep the Sabbath’ commandment or the Jews who demanded ‘keep the Sabbath, and in the ways we prescribe’? Jesus asserted that he, not them, was Lord of the Sabbath. And as for what he did on the day, as with everything Jesus did, he said, “Truly, I tell all of you emphatically, the Son can do nothing on his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing, What the Father does, the Son does likewise.”3
When Jesus came, he brought wholesale change to religious life, and the highly religious Jews saw him as a threat to their ways. Jesus ushered in freedom through love, grace, and faith. It was Paul, a Jew of Jews, who explained what that looked like in his letters; it could be summed up by one sentence he wrote to the Galatians: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.4
Kimmy said I was not the boss of her. She was right. But who is the boss of you and me? One only is our boss—our Lord, not a church, not a pastor, not the by-laws of a church. How do we know what he requires of us? Read his words to us. The Bible is the lifeline of God’s grace to us; from it, we learn what it means to make Jesus ‘Lord of all’ as we sang on Friday, because he is either Lord of all or Lord of not much in our lives, because we have kept him in a box. From the sweet pages of the Bible, we learn to walk out what freedom in Christ looks like5—the beautiful, grace-filled, life of being the beloved.
1 – Matthew 12.1-8, NKJV
2 – Exodus 20.8, NKJV
3 – John 5.19, ISV
4 – Galatians 5.1a, NIV
5 – Galatians 5.1
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