“But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.”
King James Version (KJV)
12:4 He entered into the house of God - Into the tabernacle. The temple was not yet built. The show bread - So they called the bread which the priest, who served that week, put every Sabbath day on the golden table that was in the holy place, before the Lord. The loaves were twelve in number, and represented the twelve tribes of Israel: when the new were brought, the stale were taken away, but were to be eaten by the priests only. #1Sam 21:6|.
12:5 The priests in the temple profane the Sabbath - That is, do their ordinary work on this, as on a common day, cleansing all things, and preparing the sacrifices. A greater than the temple - If therefore the Sabbath must give way to the temple, much more must it give way to me.
12:7 I will have mercy and not sacrifice - That is, when they interfere with each other, I always prefer acts of mercy, before matters of positive institution: yea, before all ceremonial institutions whatever; because these being only means of religion, are suspended of course, if circumstances occur, wherein they clash with love, which is the end of it. #Matt 9:13|.
12:8 For the Son of man - Therefore they are guiltless, were it only on this account, that they act by my authority, and attend on me in my ministry, as the priests attended on God in the temple: is Lord even of the Sabbath - This certainly implies, that the Sabbath was an institution of great and distinguished importance; it may perhaps also refer to that signal act of authority which Christ afterward exerted over it, in changing it from the seventh to the first day of the week. If we suppose here is a transposition of the 7th and 8th verses, then the 8th verse is a proof of the 6th. #Mt 12:7|,8,6.
Mt 12:6 But I say unto you, etc. The thought is: If priests in the service of the temple can break the letter of the law and be blameless, how much more can the disciples of him who is the Lord of the temple do so in his service and by his authority?