|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:1-8 Being in the corn-fields, the disciples began to pluck the ears of corn: the law of God allowed it, De 23:25. This was slender provision for Christ and his disciples; but they were content with it. The Pharisees did not quarrel with them for taking another man's corn, but for doing it on the sabbath day. Christ came to free his followers, not only from the corruptions of the Pharisees, but from their unscriptural rules, and justified what they did. The greatest shall not have their lusts indulged, but the meanest shall have their wants considered. Those labours are lawful on the sabbath day which are necessary, and sabbath rest is to froward, not to hinder sabbath worship. Needful provision for health and food is to be made; but when servants are kept at home, and families become a scene of hurry and confusion on the Lord's day, to furnish a feast for visitors, or for indulgence, the case is very different. Such things as these, and many others common among professors, are to be blamed. The resting on the sabbath was ordained for man's good, De 5:14. No law must be understood so as to contradict its own end. And as Christ is the Lord of the sabbath, it is fit the day and the work of it should be dedicated to him.
Verse 8. - Parallel passages: Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5. For. With immediate refer-once to guiltless. The Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day; is Lord of the sabbath (Revised Version); ere, being added in the Received Text from Mark and Luke. Christ clinches the argument, and at the same time explains his phrase in ver. 6. The temple is greater than the sabbath; I am greater than the temple; these my disciples are therefore guiltless; for, to put it briefly, I, whom they are following, am greater than the sabbath and rule over it. Observe, however, that Christ does not directly say "I," but the Son of man. The reason is seen in Mark, where a connecting link is given: "The sabbath was made for man. and not man for the sabbath: so that the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath." Christ there implies that the sabbath is inferior to man, not only because it exists for his sake (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:9),but also because it falls under the lordship referred to in Genesis 1:28; and therefore that he himself is really superior to it as man, and much more as the ideal Man (Matthew 8:20, note). Our saying is very condensed, but includes the name thought, omitting even as unnecessary, after having definitely pronounced the innocence of his disciples. (For the thought of the saying, cf. 2 Macc. 5:19, "God did not choose the people for the place's sake, but the place for the people's sake," and the Midrash 'Mechilta,' on Exodus 31:13, especially the words, "The sabbath is given to you, not yon to the sabbath." So also Talm. Bab., 'Yoma,' 85 b.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. By "the Son of man" is meant, not any man, as some have thought; for no mere man is lord of any law, moral or ritual, natural or positive; or has a power of disposing of it, and dispensing with it at pleasure; but Christ himself; which is the constant sense of this phrase in the New Testament, and is a character of the Messiah in the old, Daniel 7:13 who, as he was the institutor of the sabbath among the Jews, that being a ritual, and of mere positive institution, could dispense with it, and even abrogate it at his pleasure. The Jews so far agree to this, that he that commanded the law of the sabbath, could dispense with it; they say (z), that
"the day on which Jericho was taken was the sabbath day; and that though they slew and burnt on the sabbath day, , "he that commanded the observation of the sabbath, commanded the profanation of it".''
And since Christ is greater than the temple, and has all the perfections of the divine nature in him, is equal to the Father in power and glory; and even as mediator, has all power in heaven and earth given him; so as he is Lord of all other things, he is of the sabbath, and has a power of dispensing with it, and even of abolishing it; see Colossians 2:16 and since the Lord of the sabbath had a power of dispensing with it, and made use of it in the cases of David and his men, and of the priests in the temple formerly; the Pharisees ought not to think it strange, that the Son of man, who is equally Lord of the sabbath, dispensed with it in his disciples now.
(z) R. David Kimchi in Josh. vi. 11.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day—In what sense now is the Son of man Lord of the sabbath day? Not surely to abolish it—that surely were a strange lordship, especially just after saying that it was made or instituted for MAN—but to own it, to interpret it, to preside over it, and to ennoble it, by merging it in the "Lord's Day" (Re 1:10), breathing into it an air of liberty and love necessarily unknown before, and thus making it the nearest resemblance to the eternal sabbatism.
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