He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.
Matthew 12 : 3 – 6
Back in the 1980’s there was a very popular Sunday evening show called That’s Life hosted by Esther Rantzen; it was a staple of British TV culture for many years that regularly had over 20 million viewers. One segment on the show was called ‘More than my job’s worth’ where they told a story that highlighted people who were totally unwilling to see beyond a rule and were willing to keep the letter of the law without any understanding of what lay behind it. A situation that pretty much sums up the Pharisees.
They were the best rule keepers you could ever find but they had forgotten what lay behind the rules. Why were the rules there in the first place?
Just to be clear, Jesus was not advocating and never advocated breaking rules for rules sake. He called people repeatedly to understand why they were there and to make sure they understood what they were trying to achieve. So when the Pharisees allowed rules that were meant to bring people to God to become a barrier between people and God, he called them out on it.
Here the temple was there to point people to God but the pharisees pointed people to the temple. They had lost sight of the purpose of the temple.
Prayer: Dear God, so often I get caught up in the small things. Help me to understand the deeper things of life.
Action: Consider what rules you are keeping today and try to understand why they are actually there. Not just why you think they are there!