1 On a Sabbath, He passed through the grainfields. His disciples were picking heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 3 Jesus answered them, “Haven’t you read what David and those who were with him did when he was hungry— 4 how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat? He even gave some to those who were with him.” 5 Then He told them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
This passage reminded me of a story my brother told me a few years back. He was supposed to meet our mom at church, but on the way he came across someone with a flat tire, stopped to help him fix it, and didn’t make it to church. When he talked to her later and explained the situation, she focused on the fact that he had missed church and gave him a hard time about that.
The Pharisees like the ones Jesus encountered in Luke considered themselves to be very religious people because they kept all of God’s laws. In fact, they created their own laws to keep from breaking God’s laws. The Old Testament command to keep the Sabbath holy wasn’t very specific about what that meant. So a very complicated set of laws was created to define what could and could not be done on the Sabbath.
In this passage, we see the Pharisees trying to catch Jesus working on the Sabbath. But Jesus responds by making it clear they have missed the point of the Sabbath. He asks them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” Jesus doesn’t want us to be so caught up in the details that we don’t take the time to love others. So, going back to my example above, while attending church is important, as we are reminded in Hebrews 10:25, I believe stopping to show kindness and service to a stranger really exemplifies the love Jesus wants us to have for others.
This passage also reminds us that if we focus on trying to do everything just right and not break any rules/laws, we are not relying on Him. We don’t have to always get it right or try to ensure we do enough to earn God’s grace. Jesus is enough to save us. We should remember that and simply try to live a life that shows our appreciation and helps others come to know Him.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do you identify more with the Pharisees (focused on rules) or Jesus (focused on people) in the passage?
- Do you ever feel like you have to earn God’s grace by doing everything just right?
Pray for Stephen and Kaori, global workers in our church family serving in Southeast Asia. Pray for openness to the gospel, opportunities to share, and for physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health for their family members.