Lord of the Sabbath-Luke 6:1-5

Luke 6:1-5”One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, 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.”

Luca 6:1-5 « Avvenne che in un giorno di sabato egli passava per i campi di grano. I suoi discepoli strappavano delle spighe e, sfregandole con le mani, mangiavano il grano. E alcuni farisei dissero: «Perché fate ciò che non è lecito di sabato?» Gesù rispose loro: «Non avete mai letto ciò che fece Davide, quando ebbe fame, egli e coloro che erano con lui? {Come} egli entrò nella casa di Dio e prese i pani di presentazione, ne mangiò e ne diede a quelli che erano con lui, benché non sia lecito mangiarne se non ai soli sacerdoti?» E diceva loro: «Il Figlio dell’uomo è signore del sabato».

On this occasion, the issue of the Sabbath became the problem for the religious community. How could the holy institution of the Sabbath be a source of contention? It seemed the disciples didn’t care about the legal issue of the day (hunger was their concern) and Jesus did not reproach them. Deuteronomy 23:25 says that when passing through your neighbor’s field, it was permissible to pick grain with your hand but not use a sickle. The disciples were hungry and food was available, so why not eat? However the issue for the Pharisees was the method used by the disciples. They were rubbing the grain together in their hands which, in the Pharisees’ minds, constituted a form of threshing to clean the grain. (Noteworthy: what is ironic is that on the Sabbath, the Pharisees enjoyed the best meal of the week!)

Jesus responds to their outcry by relating the story of how David and his men (1 Samuel 21:1-9) ate the consecrated bread that was lawful only for the priests. Nevertheless with the blessing of the priest and for survival, they were allowed to eat it. Let’s remember the context of David’s action: he was being hunted by Saul and his men. Similarly, Jesus was being hunted here by the Pharisees looking for a way to entrap Him.

The message is clear. Jesus has authority over the Law and the traditions that grew from it. He is Lord of the Sabbath and free to use it for the benefit of His people. Wasn’t it better to have David and his men nourished than to have them fall at the hand of their enemy? Wasn’t it better that the disciples (who used no sickle) be nourished in their journey with Jesus when it was legally accessible to them?

It is sometimes true that our religious traditions can prevent us from seeing the bigger picture of what God wants to do. The compassion of Jesus on this occasion is more convincing proof that He is truly Lord of the Sabbath!

Pray with me: Lord, I can see that sometimes I have missed Your will by clinging to a legalism that narrows my vision. Help me not to fall into an artificial spirituality that focuses more on minor issues and restricts me from seeing the major ones.


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