7But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Now we come to the third argument against legalism.
But if [Greek—and you don’t] you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
The Pharisees did not understand the principle of grace. They were legalists to the core. Jesus quoted from Hosea 6:6 in this verse, where God places the principle of mercy over sacrifice. This is the second time Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 (9:13) in Matthew. We cannot rely on ritual to placate God. The principle is that compassion is more important than ritual. The Pharisees put punctiliousness above people. If they had understood the principle of grace, they would have put people above legalisms and would not have condemned Jesus and His disciples. Love takes precedence over legalism.
For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
It was Jesus who launched the law in the first place. He has the greatest understanding of the law, because He formed it. This is a claim for deity by the Son. Types were shadows of the coming reality in Jesus. The Sabbath pointed to the one who would give them rest (11:28-30).
Love takes precedence over legalism.
God rested in His accomplishment on the seventh day after six days of creation (Ge 2:2). The idea of God’s rest was not that He was tired, because He is omnipotent! The idea was to celebrate the accomplished work of creation.
God commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath (Ex 20:8-11). Of the Ten Commandments, the New Testament only refers to nine. The one exception is the Sabbath. The Sabbath was part of the ceremonial law; other laws were moral in nature. God never intended the Sabbath to apply to ministry (Mt 12:5), issues of necessity (12:3,4), or mercy (12:11,12).
One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. Ro 14:5-6
It is possible to become enslaved in regulations to the exclusion of principle.