Luke 6: 1 – 11 Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

Luke 6: 1 – 11 Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the cornfields, and his disciples began to pick some ears of corn, rub them in their hands and eat the grain. Some of the Pharisees asked, ‘Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’

Jesus answered them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 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.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’

On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shrivelled. 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. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand, ‘Get up and stand in front of everyone.’ So he got up and stood there.

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?’

He looked round at them all, and then said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

*       *       *

In these verses, St Luke puts together two stories of Jesus breaking the Sabbath. I’m going to consider the second story first.

On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shrivelled. 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.

To break the Sabbath was not trivial. It was one of the ten commandments that underpinned the whole Jewish Law.

But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand, ‘Get up and stand in front of everyone.’ So he got up and stood there.

Jesus made this healing a direct confrontation with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. He made it publicly very clear that he intended to heal the man.

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?’

The question he is posing to the Pharisees is, ‘I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath (or any other day): to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’

The implication of his words is, ‘What is it about the Sabbath that changes our understanding of right and wrong?” The Pharisees could give no answer, and Jesus healed the man, then and there.

Couldn’t Jesus have waited twenty four hours and healed the man in compliance with the Law? I expect he could, and so breaking the Sabbath was deliberate. It can only have been to teach a lesson.

The healings that Jesus performed were signs. They were one of the ways in which his ministry was validated by God the Father. Linking the healing and the Sabbath breaking was a way of demonstrating that God approved of Jesus’ teaching that doing good on he Sabbath was still good even when it formally broke the Sabbath law.

The first story, in which Jesus’ disciples pluck and eat corn on the Sabbath is more problematical. The story of David and his men eating consecrated bread (1 Samuel 21: 1 – 6) hardly seems analogous to the casual actions of Jesus’ disciples. David was fleeing Saul. He needed food and the consecrated bread was all that was available. The disciples just look careless.

And yet, Jesus pins his authority on it: ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’

I think that the first story needs to be read in the context of the second story. It seems to be saying that Jesus has authority to ‘break the rules’. That poses the question, ‘When do we have the authority to ‘break the rules’, and I think the only answer to that is that we can do it when we are sure that it’s God the Father’s will.

Which has two great big messages for me. First of all, I shall have to take the Sabbath more seriously. Secondly, I really need to practice opening my heart to God’s voice, and listening with obedience.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for your love, and the way you guide me. Please help me to learn the lessons that you are teaching me.

In Jesus name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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