Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man on the sabbath, thus demonstrating his authority over the Law. The Jesus portrayed in the Gospels consistently speaks and acts in the very person of Yahweh, the God of Israel.
On another occasion, defending his disciples against the charge of picking grain on the sabbath, Jesus reminds his interlocutors that priests serving in the temple can, under certain circumstances, violate the sabbath and still remain innocent; then he adds with breathtaking laconicism, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.” The only one who could reasonably claim to be “greater” than the temple would be the one who was worshiped in the temple.
In a number of places in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states, “You have heard it said . . . but I say . . . ” This almost casual dismissal of the Torah, the revelation given by Yahweh to Moses himself and hence the court of final appeal to any pious Jew, would have overwhelmed any first-century Jew. Once more, the only one who could legitimately overrule the Torah with such insouciance would be the one who was himself the author of the Torah.