During the Old Testament times, it is very common for the true prophets of the Lord to proclaim the oracles of God with the prelude “Thus says the Lord. ” It bears witness to the fact that what they were declaring to the people of Israel were not their opinions nor traditions laid by their sages but the actual words or message from God. It also point to God as the authority or the true source of authority and not them (Lloyd-Jones, 1958). In the New Testament, on the other hand, especially in the celebrated Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Jesus many times referred to Himself as the authority. He did not preface His declarations with “Thus says the Lord. ” He said to His disciples, “You have heard that it was said to those of old. . . but I say to you. . . .”
This puts the emphasis of authority on Jesus. It does not mean though that Jesus was subverting the authority of God, for He Himself was God in the flesh (Jn. 1:1-3,14); He was the second Person of the Trinity manifested in the flesh.
One of the things that He was pointing out among others was the fact that the Pharisees of His day were in grave error following the traditions of their elders, and in this particular case, in their interpretation of many scriptures. Hence, He said, “You have heard it was said. . . but now I say to you. . . .” The apostles after Him followed suit. In all of their letters they derived authority from the words of Jesus. Their letters, to put it simply, were just elaborations of Christ’s teachings (Riggs, 2nd Ed. )
In the question of the understanding of the Sabbath’s observance, it is clear enough that Jesus clashed headlong with the Pharisees. It is simply because Jesus’ interpretation was different from theirs. For Jesus, Sabbath day was intended for man to enjoy (Mk. 2:23-28). God has not restricted the performance of good during Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-13). The Pharisees as well as the Jews of Jesus’ day followed the tradition of the elders – and in this they have erred.
From Jesus’ example and the Pharisees’, we can glean insights especially in the area of applying the principles of the Scriptures. A Christian can easily become a legalist when his understanding of the Scriptures, like the Pharisees, is not based on the Scriptures intended application. We can clearly communicate proper boundaries within the set limits of the Scriptures when we have grasped its clear and full implications. Reference: 1. Riggs, Ralph. The Life of Christ. 2nd ed. 2. Scripture Quotations from New King James Bible 3. Lloyd-Jones, DM. 1958. Authority. The Banner of Truth. UK.