A few weeks ago I taught our Tuesday night group on how Jesus was permitting the disciples to pick some grains and eat them on the Sabbath - which every Jew knew was forbidden - you are to REST and not work on the Sabbath. [Even today in Israel, Orthodox Jews are so meticulous in observing this command that elevators are set to AUTOMATICALLY stop on each floor in a hotel, lest by pushing a button - and creating a spark of electricity - you'd violate God's command to not start a fire on the Sabbath. [Exodus 35:1-3]
When we hear this kind of hyper-precision, we may laugh, but we have to admit that these Jews feared God enough to obey Him, and treat His commands as sacred.
Score one for them.
But, truth be told, they overdid it. And in Jesus' day, He showed them they were in the wrong.
My opinion is that God gave such strict commands in the Law to correct and guide a people who had NO country, nor culture, nor standards. They were ex-slaves out of Egypt WHEN they got the 10 Commandments. They did not know HOW to live, WHEN to stop, etc.
And so, God said "Don't!" Don't murder, don't steal, don't lie and for My sake, don't work 7 days a week. Take a break and recover - I stopped to enjoy My own creation after six days - you can too!
But it went from a sweet grace of enforced rest to a binding law that stopped anyone from doing even necessary kindnesses.
Their perception was that these disciples were BAD for 'working' on the Sabbath, when in fact, they are merely grabbing a little snack as they walk by.
And Jesus uses what would be an obscure anecdote to prove his point - that God understands 'exceptions' to a rule, especially when a man honors God and has ALREADY put Him first in his heart - like David did.
Their perception was wrong. They wanted rules and more rules to prove they were right, but God wanted our trust and companionship. When He is getting those - as our Lord Christ IS from His disciples - the rules fade into the background.
Jesus Teaches a Better Way to Honor God
The problem with good rules is that they can be perverted into bad rules or so re-interpreted that the reason for the rules has been totally obscured.
A legalist, a perfectionist and a compliant child all have this in common: they are under a great deal of compulsion to PERFORM without question, without understanding the merit of what is commanded.
Daily they pass the tests of life by knowing the answers, but are miserable because they never were told WHY the answers were good in the first place. They know the words to the song but not the tune; they exist without living, fearful of error – and angry when others ‘break the rules.’
We have to agree that we are not immune from Phariseeism simply because we have a better moral behavior: much of our obedience is still out of fear, not love. And fear tends to generate anger, once it gets past its initial shock. Fear you have been duped – that all your ‘hard work’ is going to be overlooked.
Well, it should be overlooked –our righteousness comes from Christ. We are not God; we are not even Lords. We are disciples – and that means we are learning – and we are never ‘soft on sin’ because of grace for we know what sin does to destroy human souls. Rather we try not to manage the world’s sins, but find those we can heal and release from Satan – any and every day of the week.
1 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. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 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.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.
9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.
1) What bothered the Pharisees about the disciples getting a little snack?
2) What did Jesus use as His reply? In what context did David commit his deed? Who does Jesus think He is?
3) What method does Jesus use to challenge the Phariseeic interpretation of the Sabbath? How did they react to Jesus healing a man on this day?
Rules are for children. Relationships are for adults.
When you know Christ personally, you understand the difference.