READ: Matthew 12:1-8
12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
Here is the dilemma: according to Hebrew law, you're not supposed to work on the Sabbath. We would say, "Sure, and Jesus disciples weren't fishing." Ah, but the definition of work in those days extended to anything that might possibly result in someone being fed. In a subsistence economy work made food, not money. So, for Jesus disciples to pluck grains and begin to eat them on a Sabbath was forbidden. But, as Jesus pointed out, there is a sense in which priests violate this law every week because there is bread involved in the temple service. Just as in our communion today, someone has to pick up the bread and distribute it.
What is the solution? You'll find it cryptically given to us in verse 8. The "Son of Man" (Jesus) is Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is not Lord over the Son of Man.
I have a dear friend in Christ who was denied ordination in a denomination because he said he would do his laundry on Sunday. Really now. Let's get the definition of work and the definition of the Sabbath right.
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.