IV. The authority for religious practice established (v. 28)
Second, Jesus deals with the wrong thinking of the Pharisees by clearly establishing His divine authority over religious practices such as the Sabbath. In addition to misunderstanding the bible, the Pharisees misunderstood who Jesus was. They thought that they had more authority to interpret the Sabbath than Jesus. They were deathly wrong because “the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” This is the main point of this passage.
Here Jesus refers to Himself using his favorite self-designation, the Son of Man. He often used this title to avoid all the misconceptions about the Messiah. But it is clear that He is proclaiming His authority. In fact, you could make the argument that Jesus is establishing His authority in two ways:
1. His authority is superior to the authority of the Pharisees – He properly interpreted what the Scriptures had to say concerning Sabbath which gave him more authority to determine how it was to be practiced.
2. His authority is divine authority – God is the one who instituted the Sabbath, and for Jesus to claim to be the lord of the Sabbath is a clear reference to His deity.
It is clear form this passage that as God Jesus has authority over our religious practice. But what are the implications of this truth on our lives?
First, it means that how we live out our beliefs is not primarily a matter of personal preference. We must stand firm on the truths that we believe, but we must allow some grace on how those beliefs are lived out. For instance, all true Christians believe that we must be holy as God is holy, and we must live lives that are distinct from the world. However, how we live that out in the area of movies, music, dress, etc is going to be different. As e deal with difficult issues such as these we must avoid viewing ourselves as the final authority on these religious practices. This is the mistake that Jesus had to correct the Pharisees on.
Second, it means that the focus of our religious practices must be Christ. In all that we do our focus must be on bringing Him glory, on growing closer to Him, and on loving Him more. The Pharisees didn’t get this. They were so focused on the letter of the law that they missed the spirit of the law. They missed the one that the OT had been pointing to. They were so focused on themselves, and keeping their rules that they missed out on the Messiah. The danger is that we will make the same mistake. We will be so busy focusing on our religious practices that we miss the Messiah.
Jesus clearly demonstrates in this passage that He has divine authority over our religious practices. We must not be like the Pharisees who placed their own authority to establish and interpret religious practice above the authority of Jesus.