On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:1-5
Today’s verses are a prime example of how the Pharisees and the Jewish rabbis had over the centuries so covered God’s law that it was virtually unrecognizable. God through Moses gave the entire Law in three books of Our Old Testament, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. The Law does not fill any of these three books. Yet if one looks at the Jewish Talmuds they are over 6,000 pages. In one of my studies I was required to read what the Babylonian Talmud said about cleaning a house to remove all the leavening in preparation of Passover, specifically how a woman could know if she had cleaned properly. The discourse went over 30 pages on just this one topic.
If these writing were just commentaries then that would not have been an issue. The problem is that the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day were using these layers of commentary and debate to cover over God’s Law. They insisted that the Jewish people not only obey God’s Law but the layers they had placed on top. In fact these manmade rules disallowed so much that as we see in today’s verses even the rubbing of some heads of grain in order to separate the grain was considered work and therefore not allowed. These restrictions included how far one could walk from their home before it was considered work. Or what one could and could not carry before one was considered working. This leads to the creation of eruvs, essentially frames or wires connecting building in order to make them one building, so they could carry things such as house keys, canes, babies, etc. from home to the synagogue on the Sabbath. What one rule prohibited another allowed a circumvention.
Jesus tells the Pharisees that He is lord of the Sabbath. In fact we learn from the Bible that Jesus taught that the Sabbath was created for man not man for the Sabbath. God rested on the seventh day after the six days of creation. Now God did not need to rest in the sense that we need rest. God’s rest was the ending of His creation of the universe and everything in it. It marked the end of creation and the beginning of life after creation. Just as God rested from His labor of creation so He wanted us to rest after a week of labor. He wanted us to have the time to worship and contemplate Him. He wants us to take time from the day to day worries and refresh ourselves. What God does not want is to make the Sabbath so rule filled that we are constantly worries about breaking a rule so that we no longer can concentrate on the real purpose of a Sabbath.
The Pharisees had made the Sabbath into what they thought it should be not what God wants it to be. Jesus in today’s verses is reclaiming the Sabbath for God and for us.
Have a blessed day,