Jesus’ words and actions soon brought him into conflict with the religious authorities. Here the first problem concerns the observance of the Sabbath, about which the Jews had very strict rules. It was agreed that the obligations of the temple service might make it necessary for the priests to break one of the Sabbath rules. If it is acknowledged that “something greater than the temple is here” (that is, Jesus Christ himself), then there will be grounds for other exceptions to the rules. The reference in v.7 is to Hosea 6:6 – mercy is superior to ritual observances.
The second confrontation (v.9-14) brought another consideration: a person was allowed to save an animal from drowning in the well on the Sabbath, so how much more should you be allowed to rescue (or do good to) a man!
The heart of the matter is in verse 8. If we really accept that Jesus is Lord, totally and absolutely, Lord over all aspects of life, then we accept gladly whatever he says and does. If, however, we do not want to acknowledge Jesus’ absolute lordship, then we shall for ever argue and try to prove Jesus wrong. If Jesus is not our Lord, who or what is? Some of the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day came close to making the law their god.