Read: Matthew 12
“I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would have not condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:6-8)
Jesus is greater than the temple. Up until this time, the temple was the symbolic dwelling place of God, the ritual meeting place of God with his people. But now: Immanuel! God was with his people in person.
Again, Jesus hints at his identity with a reference to Hosea 6:6, which calls God’s people to acknowledge him. It is God whose presence makes the temple great, not the other way around.
Jesus is greater than the Sabbath. He is Lord of the Sabbath, in authority over it. At this time, the Sabbath had become not so much a designated period of rest but a time to be cautious of all that was forbidden on that day. But now: Immanuel! God, who instituted the Sabbath at the time of creation, was with his people.
Jesus was able to establish “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (12:12). If the Pharisees acknowledged God as Hosea and Jesus admonished them to, they would not condemn people innocent of wrongdoing, people who did good on the Sabbath. They too would find their rest and peace in Jesus.
Jewish religion (both place and practice) is fulfilled by Jesus, God with us.
LORD God Almighty,
You designed the temple and provided the materials and the skilful, Spirit-filled workers to build it. You ensured the tabernacle erected in Moses’ time would be replaced by the temple Solomon caused to be built. You brought Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, Joshua and Zerubbabel back from exile to rebuild a temple for your glorious name. You even used Herod, an ungodly Idumean, to redecorate your temple and make it shine with gold.
Yet all this was just building up to the time when your Son Jesus Christ would dwell in the Promised Land, when he would talk face-to-face with your chosen people, when he would bring joy and healing with his very presence.
LORD, help me to feel this same joy. You know I am tired today, but my physical weakness has no bearing on my spiritual strength.
Help me to focus on Jesus and all he has done and won for me: my election and regeneration, my justification and adoption, the indwelling of the Spirit within me and my new life in Christ, my sanctification and the glorification for which I look forward with hope. These are true treasures, far greater than the temple.