7623 - The Lord of the Sabbath


We can often get attached to our traditions of the conventional rules of society, but God’s rules are the ones we need to pay attention to.

In our study of the Gospel of Luke we are now entering the sixth chapter. The passage for today presents yet another effort by the Pharisees to discredit Jesus. He did not fit into their expectations of a conquering Messiah who would overthrow the Romans and establish the kingdom of God on earth.

But let’s read Luke 6:1-5; then we can discuss it:
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

The underlying problem was the restrictive rules, which had been imposed upon the Jewish people for observance of the Sabbath. In this way the Pharisees had become Lord of the Sabbath. These traditional rules went far beyond the requirements of the Mosaic Law.

Jesus confronted the motivation of the Pharisees for their tight control over the people.

As this group of people walked along the designated path the disciples plucked some heads of grain to eat. Before they placed them in their mouth they rubbed the kernels between their palms to clean them and remove the husks. This was allowed by the Mosaic Law (Deut. 23:25), but under the Jewish traditions this was classified as work.

The Law did forbid work on the Sabbath (Deut. 5:14); but was this activity of the disciples truly work? The disciples were not putting the sickle to the grain, nor were they bagging any surplus. They were eating the few heads, which they plucked. This did not qualify as work under the Lord’s standards.

So, it was the traditions of the Pharisees, which were being violated, and this made them angry. Why didn’t Jesus keep His followers under control? Why didn’t He make them adhere to their traditions? That was the conflict.

To answer the question of the Pharisees, Jesus flashed-back to a scene from history (1 Sam. 21:6). On a trip and in need of food David and his men received from the Priests some of the sacred, consecrated bread from the Tabernacle. This bread was designated for consumption only by the priests, but in this emergency they shared it with David; and no one else, especially God, had ever censored David or the priests for this act of compassion.

Jesus, in this case, compared himself and His disciples to David and his men in this written case from history found in Scripture. He was saying to these legalistic Pharisees, “If you are condemning me, to be consistent, you must condemn David also. Then Jesus shared a truth with the religious leaders as he said: “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

In this sentence Jesus was authenticating His office as the Son of Man –– a name which Jesus often used in the place of the Son of God. He was saying to these stubborn, hard-hearted Pharisees that they were committing a far greater error of evil by failing to accept the servant Messiah who would suffer for their sins according to many prophecies of Scripture. They were ignoring the sure signs of divine authority – healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, giving hearing to the deaf, raising the dead. These miraculous acts had not been seen by them ever. They all pointed to the Messiah.

As the Divine One, the creator of the universe, Jesus had authority over the Sabbath –– and every other day also!

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus ushered in a new age –– to bring people to Christ that we might be justified by faith in Him (Gal. 3:24). They had missed the fact that the Law was given that people might become conscious of sin (Rom. 3:20).