Jesus Works and Heals on the Sabbath

“Sometime ago I heard a pastor who was taking a Boy Scout troop on a tour of the church, explaining the meaning of the windows and some of the symbols. One of the scouts asked about a plaque displayed prominently in the foyer that listed a long roster of names. On being … More

Legalism

 

On the Sabbath day, possibly the next day after the feast at Matthew’s house, another problem is brought up by the Pharisees. Jesus and His disciples are passing through some grain fields and being hungry they pluck some of the grain and ate it (v. 1). These Pharisees who saw them did not raise any objection to the grain being taken from the field of another, for this was permitted by the law in such cases (Deuteronomy23:25). However, they condemned the disciples for doing it on the Sabbath day which they said was breaking the law (v.2).

Jesus did not argue with them but took them right to the Word of God (I Samuel 21:1-6). He shows them how David, who when fleeing from Saul, was permitted by the priests to eat of the show-bread in the tabernacle, and what Jew would condemn Israel’s great king? He tried to show them how they had misunderstood the purpose of the law and that God is more concerned about meeting human needs than He is in protecting religious rules (vv. 3-5).

He mentioned that it was the right hand of the man that was useless, a detail of particular interest to a doctor. This detail shows the seriousness of the man’s case (vv. 6-8). Most people are right-handed. Jesus consciously provoked conflict by calling the man forward for healing. We should not confuse the issue by calling Sunday the Sabbath. The Sabbath, Saturday, speaks of rest after work and of the completion of the creation, while Sunday, the Lord’s day, speaks of rest before work and commemorates our Lord’s finished work on the cross. Jesus’ question had two parts. He first asked if it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath or if it was lawful to do evil (vv. 9-10). The obvious answer was that doing good was lawful but doing evil was not lawful . Jesus humiliated the religious leaders and healed the man all at the same time without even breaking the Pharisees’ law. (v. 11).

Application

Sunday should be a wonderful day of rest and worshiping the Lord. It should not be controlled by a set of strict and oppressive rules that becomes a burden to me instead of a blessing.

Luke 6:1-11 (English Standard Version)

On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?" And Jesus answered them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?" And he said to them, "The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, "Come and stand here." And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?" And after looking around at them all he said to him, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

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