Country Boys Know Their Grains
When we first moved to Midlothian, Texas, to start a new church, most of our folks were pure country. In fact to raise the money to pour our first slab the entire church jumped in their pickups, drove out into the fields, and hauled hay.
As young teens my older boys convinced one of our elders to plant oats and go out and purchase an old combine. They had a blast working together in the old barn to get it running, and when the harvest came, they made some money. When I told Jonathan and Joel the story about Jesus’ disciples rubbing the heads of grain in their hands to get at the kernels, they knew exactly what Luke 6 was talking about.
“Now it happened on a Sabbath as He was passing through some standing grain, His disciples were plucking and eating the heads of grain after rubbing them together in their hands. Now some of the Pharisees said, ’Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he was hungry and those with him? He entered into the House of God and took the bread of the presence and ate it, and gave it to those with him, bread that it’s only lawful for the priests to eat.’ Then He said, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.’” Luke 6:1-5
According to my friend Darrell Bock’s commentary, the Jewish Mishnah would have cited the disciples for a quadruple violation of Sabbath law—reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food (Bock, >Luke 1:1-9:50). Religious legalists consistently miss the reason for the Law as they criticize others for not obeying all their added minutiae. Jesus made it clear. Sabbath rest was instituted to insure that humans took a break for an entire day once a week. They were to break their routine, enjoy one another, and most of all enjoy their relationship with the LORD. The point wasn’t to spending your time on the Sabbath as the “holy police” watching for hungry men to pick a few stalks, pop a few kernels in their mouths, and then bust them for Sabbath breaking.
Jesus had no problem making religious legalists like this mad. He implied that they hadn’t read 1 Samuel 21:1-7 and 22:9-10 carefully, and therefore they missed the higher principle at work when David and his men went in the tabernacle and ate the bread that was dedicated to God—bread that was only to be eaten by the priests at the end of the week. God gave the Law not to cause men to go hungry but to give them rest.
Jesus’ penetration to the heart of the Mosaic Law heated up the Pharisees, but when He implied that He was the Son of Man predicted by Daniel, and that He had divine authority over the Sabbath, they became enflamed with passion to get Him. What a tragedy that they failed to realize that they were debating with someone far greater than King David.
LORD, Your love is expressed in insisting that I take a good day’s break once a week. Help Mary and me not to ignore your gracious kindness. Also protect us from the fallacy of legalists who pride themselves on living according to what they believe are Your detailed instructions, but miss the entire point and harbor anger inside against the grace of Your Son.
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