Luke 6:1-11: Sabbath “Work”

Read: Luke 6:1-11
The Pharisees never relented in their quest to defame Jesus. On two different occasions, they question Jesus about “working” on the Sabbath which was unlawful (Exodus 20:8-11) In the first episode, his disciples where picking grain (which was lawful according to Deuteronomy 23:25) and in the second, Jesus heals a man. The Pharisees, in their zeal for keeping every aspect of the Law had taken the law and added more to it just to make sure that they wouldn’t otherwise break it. Jesus had already spoken on the matter though pertaining to religiosity, saying that the new and the old didn’t mix (Luke 5:33-37). Here in both instances, Jesus was doing something that was in their minds a blatant violation of the law.

Jesus again teaches truth about himself and his relationship to the law in both episodes. Jesus draws on an episode from the Old Testament when David went into the temple, got the show bread, and fed it too his men . The show bread was forbidden to be eaten by anyone other than the priest (1 Samuel 21:1-9, Leviticus 24:5-9). In the parallel episode in Mark 2:27, Jesus adds that Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Jesus further rebuts the Pharisees, declaring that the “son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” Son of Man was a title that Jesus used to refer to his humanity and his deity, and here communicates. The point that Jesus makes though is that in an effort to preserve the law, they Pharisees break it, which is to let some one go hungry. The Pharisees had made keeping the Sabbath more work than not when it was intended to be a day of rest. When Jesus declares he is Lord of the Sabbath he is making an unequivocal statement about his Lordship and authority to discern what is and isn’t right to do on the Sabbath. In the second episode, Jesus similarly heals a man with a withered hand. In this case Jesus makes a similar point, saying that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.

The prohibition against working on the Sabbath was given for two reasons: rest and worship. Some had got so caught up in trying to refrain from working on the Sabbath that they were working harder avoiding work than they would if they were actually working! The real crime here is not work insomuch as it is forgetting the purpose of the Sabbath by being legalistic about the Sabbath and condemning those who do not keep the Sabbath according to one’s own artificial standards. This temptation has not gone away either. Being devout does not mean that one should uphold the Sabbath for the legalistic purposes, rather it is good for Christians to have a day to rest and devote themselves to Lord of the Sabbath introspectively — and don’t be afraid to do good on the Sabbath either.

Lord, You are Lord of the Sabbath.
Let me find rest in you, not in what I do!

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