What we are talking about
In Luke 5, Jesus angered the Pharisees by claiming to forgive the paralytic sins, something they understood only God could do. As a result, the Pharisees began to follow Jesus around, watching Him like hawks to see if He would break any more rules, especially the man-made rules about doing work on the Sabbath.
The rule against work on the Sabbath was very important to the Jews: It had roots in the creation account (Genesis 2:2; 3); it was specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11); and it was specifically defined in hundreds of man-made interpretations and traditions. They figured it would be easy to catch Jesus breaking Sabbath rules. They wouldn’t have to wait long.
In Luke 6:1-2, we read that the Pharisees accused the disciples of breaking the Sabbath by threshing grain they had picked. Picking grain from a field for a snack was okay (see Deuteronomy 23:25), but according to their interpretation of Exodus 34:21, rubbing the heads of grain between one’s hands was considered threshing; thus it was considered work.
In Luke 6:3-4, we see that Jesus referred them to the biblical story in which David and his men, famished by running from Saul’s army, ate the holy bread, breaking the rule against desecrating the bread dedicated to the Lord (see 1 Samuel 21:1-6). Jesus’ point was that sometimes, ceremonial rules must give way to more pressing needs such as hunger or healing.
We have to remember why God's laws exist; to draw us closer to God. If we become more focused on the rules than we are on loving God and loving others then we have missed the point.
Questions for Discussion
From what else we know about Jesus’ ministry, did Jesus respect the rules in the Old Testament?
Did Jesus come to get rid of the rules in the Old Testament? (See Matthew 5:17-18)
Why didn’t Jesus just wait a day and avoid the whole Sabbath controversy?
- What did it cost Jesus to place the needs of others ahead of the man-made rules of the Sabbath?