Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away was a television show called Laugh In. Most southern-never-miss-a-Sunday church goers did not watch (or said they didn’t watch) this funny, ridiculous show. My parents allowed it because they thought it was funny—but we weren’t supposed to talk about it. I’m smiling at the thought even now. They knew we would be judged and held accountable (mostly by family) for partaking in this laughter. My parents are with Jesus now and I am certain He did not bring up the watching of Laugh In to them. They were forgiven, redeemed people who loved Him with all their hearts, minds and souls. Case settled.
The show had a repeating comedic sketch called “Here Comes the Judge” that was thrown in between other sketches as in the days of Vaudeville. (Now, you have to look Vaudeville up. What lessons we are learning today!) “Here Comes the Judge” is a 1968 song by legendary comedian Pigmeat Markham. It became one of comedy’s first memes when Sammy Davis Jr. made it a catchphrase on the TV show: Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In.
WHY do I think of Laugh In’s Judge as I read this next passage of Matthew? Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God, is coming up against His own judges who try to assume what he is thinking and presume what he will do while judging every move he makes. They need evidence, any kind of evidence, so they can bring him down to their level of justice. So, when we cry out to God about our own accusers at work, home or among our family members, remember Jesus knows, wow, does he know! Here comes the Judge, Here come the Judges!
Matthew—The Law Fulfilled
Matthew 12:1-14, NLT
A Discussion about the Sabbath
At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. 2 But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”
3 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. 5 And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? 6 I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! 7 But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ 8 For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
9 Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, 10 where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)
11 And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. 12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! 14 Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.
POINTS TO PONDER AND INTERNALYZE
Jesus, Son of God, is Lord of the Sabbath. What He says goes. “To obey is better than sacrifice” says God through Samuel to king hopefuls. Take a look at 1 Samuel 15:22 as explained in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message: “Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. Getting self-important around God is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors. Because you said No to God’s command, he says No to your kingship.” This fits the Pharisee judges Jesus contends with in this passage!
Do what God says to do no matter what day of the week it is! We can rely on what God says to be right and good…even on the Sabbath! Mercy and obedience to God is better than what you bring as offerrings.
“Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.” Here comes the judges who “know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus prayed for his judge, jury and executioners from the cross. Before going to the cross for our sins Jesus continued to do the will of the Father. Jesus showed mercy for us, obeyed God and then sacrificed His life in exchange for ours. Jesus, our Savior and Lord, obeyed AND sacrificed so we who believe in Him could have eternal life!
Friends, does this not send chills down our spines in deep gratitude, bringing tears of joy to our eyes?
Lord, Father in Heaven,
You teach, you make us smile, you invite us to do your work with you from time to time all because you love us and want the best for us. All of these benefits are given to us as a result of believing that you died and rose again to pay our debt of sin and set us free from the bondage of hanging on to the forgiven sins of the past.
Yes, You set us free, dear Jesus, by obeying God, the Father and sacrificing yourself for us. What a profound thought of the depth of your love for us, it is almost too hard for complete understanding! But I am grateful, oh so grateful for all you have done, are doing and will do in my life. Show me the way, continue to teach me, for I am yours.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.