Monday, June 1, 2015

Jesus, Lord over the Sabbath (People's Needs are More Important than Technicalities)

One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain. But some Pharisees said, ‘Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on Sabbath?’ Jesus replied, ‘Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.’ And Jesus added, ‘The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.
(Luke 6:1-5,

In answering these critics, Jesus pointed them to the Scriptures they professed to know so well. By comparing himself and his disciples to David and his men, Jesus was saying, in effect, ‘If you condemn me, you must also condemn David.’ Jesus was not discarding the law and advocating disobedience. Instead, he pointed to a higher law and emphasized discernment and compassion, something the self-righteous Pharisees did not comprehend. People’s needs are more important than technicalities.   

In calling himself Lord over the Sabbath, Jesus claimed the authority to overrule the Pharisees’ traditions and regulations because he had created the Sabbath. Jesus, therefore, could interpret the meaning of the Sabbath and all the laws pertaining to it. Through their confusing system of Sabbath laws, the religious leaders had made themselves lords of the Sabbath and thus lords over the people. In claiming to be Lord over the Sabbath, Jesus was stating his divinity and confronting the position of the religious leaders.

Jesus believed in the Sabbath and lived it. But he knew Sabbath observance must point to the Sabbath Maker and not focus on technical, hairsplitting definitions of ‘work’ and ‘rest.’ By remaking the Sabbath into a day of refreshment, worship, and healing, he was prying open the tightfisted control the Pharisees held on the people.

Think about this: Some people may think that because believers are no longer “under law,” we can live any way we please (referring Jesus’ comments in this passage as proof). But this story doesn’t make that point. God’s moral laws – the Ten Commandments (including the one about the Sabbath) – still apply. Jesus was highlighting the fact that even well-intentioned, religious people can add rules and restrictions to God’s laws and totally miss their meaning. Those added-on, human-made regulations are not inspired and inviolable. God wants us to study and apply His Word, but we must not project our personal applications onto others. Remember, Jesus must be Lord over everything in our lives, including the Sabbath.

What needs to change in your routine or lifestyle to honor God on the Sabbath?

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