One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
1. How do you react when Jesus flips your understanding of something on its head? The disciples had hundreds of years of theology behind their understanding of the Sabbath, and yet Jesus needed to correct them, to enlarge their idea of the Sabbath.
2. What is our image of Sabbath? I daresay the Church in America has a loose, casual attitude toward Sabbath. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man. In other words, it’s a gift. It’s not a law that burdens us. It’s a gift that brings joy and rest. Why, then, are we so quick to dismiss the concept of Sabbath from our lives?
3. If they persecuted me, Jesus told his disciples, they will persecute you. How is it that when Jesus heals someone, there are some who want to kill him for the act? Those who do not have the Spirit of God within them struggle to understand the things of God. The Pharisees and Herodians, instead of seeing the compassion and power of Jesus, saw only the dismissal of tradition, and it scared them. Let us not be like the Pharisees, who missed the point, and became angry–even hostile–to Jesus. Nor let us be surprised when we do something in Jesus name and receive in turn hostile responses.