Sons who Suffer for Others
I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:6-8
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. Genesis 37:3,4
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came to earth through the sinfully flawed lineage of Abraham, Isaac and, Jacob and into a society steeped in legalistic fear. He came not to merely make things better but to begin to bring the nations to His kingdom and under His lordship. Not surprisingly, our Lord collided with the powers that were, including the Pharisees with their over-scrupulous preoccupation with law-keeping as they interpreted the law. Matthew records two of these collisions here in which Jesus’ practice upset the status quo.
In the context of these incidents, Jesus teaches that He is Lord of the Sabbath. He alone is qualified to interpret the true meaning of the Sabbath. His teaching and practice shows that faithfulness to God’s law means giving priority to mercy over sacrifice and the well being of Man not the satisfaction of arbitrary rules appended to that law.
The story of Joseph’s early life in today’s reading further demonstrates the depravity of man. Jacob’s sons are from four different mothers which by itself lays the groundwork for discord. Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph exacerbates the tension and competition. Joseph is the favored son but he will suffer much for that status.
It is not hard to draw parallels between Joseph and Jesus. Both are favored sons of their fathers. They suffer at the hands of their brothers. Both remain faithful even in the face of undeserved mistreatment. Their suffering ultimately results in the saving of those who caused their anguish.
Think about it
Jesus was Lord of the Sabbath, but not just the Sabbath, He is Lord of all: all things, all people, all of the universe. Today we can see how this is demonstrated in Scripture and in human history. Let us follow our Lord, through suffering if necessary, to the end when His kingdom will fully triumph.