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Jesus said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? How he entered the house of God, and they ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and yet are guiltless? (Matthew 12:3-5)

In responding to the Pharisees, Jesus quickly gave two examples where the letter of the law was set aside so that a greater need could be met: food meant only for priests was used to feed hungry men; priests worked on the Sabbath on behalf of other people. They broke the law and yet were “guiltless.” How so? Because the spirit of the law was kept, even though the letter was not. The spirit of a fair law is meant to care for the needs of everyone, rich or poor. That’s partially what Jesus meant when he said, “Something greater than the temple is here” (verse 6)  – a higher principle, that is, one which cares for people’s needs, was established. 

Prayer – Lord, help me to see how rules can be kept in spirit if not in letter to ensure all others are treated fairly.


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