He was saying to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Even though we are no longer under the Old Testament’s restrictions, I believe there are some valuable principles about the Sabbath we can observe today. Before we look at those principles, let’s look at Jesus’s Sabbath squabbles.
The first squabble I call “The Case of the Hungry Disciples.” It is found in Luke 6. “Now it happened that He was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath; and His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’” (vv. 1-2). Jesus and His disciples were heading somewhere on the Sabbath day. They were very hungry, and they didn’t have a McDonald’s to pull into. What could they do for food? They walked into a wheat field, grabbed some heads of wheat, plucked them from the stalk, and plopped the grain in their mouth. That was a snack that would tide them over.
Some Pharisees saw them and said they couldn’t do that. Now you may think, “Well, they shouldn’t do that. That’s stealing.” No, that’s not stealing according to the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 23:24-25 there is a provision that if you were going through somebody’s field, you could take some heads of grain and feed yourself. But the Pharisees added to God’s law, and they said you couldn’t reap, thrash, winnow, or prepare any kind of food on the Sabbath day, and therefore the disciples were breaking the Pharisees’ rule.
How did Jesus answer? “Jesus answering them said, ‘Have you not even 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 consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?’” (Luke 6:3-4). This is a reference to 1 Samuel 21. David and his men were fleeing King Saul. They were hungry. They had no place to eat, so they went into the tabernacle, saw the 12 loaves of showbread that were dedicated to God, and they ate them. This showed that God is more interested in the spirit of the law than the letter of the law. That’s what Jesus said.
Now somebody might say, “If you start interpreting God’s law however you want to, then that leads to chaos.” Look at how Jesus responded in Luke 6:5: “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus was saying, “Hey, don’t forget who I am—I am God. I am the One who wrote this law to begin with. I can interpret it any way I want.” And by saying such a thing He enraged the Pharisees.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Squabbling Over the Sabbath” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.