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 the 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.”
On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If He healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse Him of working on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. Then Jesus said to His critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”
He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with Him.Luke 6:1-11
This is an interesting segment. Luke has repositioned it here. It comes much later in Matthew and Mark than it occurs in Luke. It occurs before the story of Jairus’ daughter. But Luke has lifted this unit out of place and put it here. Now why would he do that? Well I think you can see he is gathering the stories that talk of the mounting opposition from the Pharisees and also which show the clash between the New Wine and Old Wineskins as it were. Isn’t this another example of what we have been talking about when Jesus confronts the Pharisees and challenges their system of practice and their presuppositions. Notice in all of these stories the Pharisees feature heavily. There is a gathering black cloud of Pharisaical proportions. Luke’s positioning is logical not chronological.
Before we start to look at the verses for today I need to tell you I have combined two pericopes together. I could just as easily have dealt with them as separate units. I chose to put them together because they both involve more encounters with the Pharisees and in this case both relate to the Sabbath Day. Of course if you look at them, these two stories are combined together in all three synoptic gospels.
What were they doing that was so wrong and why were the Pharisees there anyway? It seems the Pharisees are shadowing Jesus and His disciples everywhere they go. No doubt each morning the Pharisees woke and checked the roster to see who’s tailing Jesus that day. According to Deut 23:25 it was lawful to eat grain in this way while walking through someone’s field. It is not like they are sneaking into the field and stealing grain. In fact there were public paths between grain fields, sometimes cutting through an owner’s field. So what was the big deal from the Pharisees point of view. The imperfect tense of the action suggests on-going action. They were plucking as they went along. A handful here and handful there.
“Why are you breaking the law (which law?) by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” Oh harvesting grain are we? I thought we were rubbing some grain between our hands. The problem comes with the Pharisees’ minor added rules to those found in the Torah. The many and varied added laws the Pharisees and others created, most of which we have in the collection called the Mishnah, deemed plucking grain to be a mini form of harvesting and rubbing grain between the hands was considered a mini from of threshing. No doubt throwing away the husks in their hand was tantamount to winnowing and eating it probably was considered preparing food. You can’t win under the Pharisaical legalistic spirit. They came up with hundreds of silly little rules as to what constituted work on the Sabbath. Once again examples of the Old System which doesn’t fit with Messiah’s teaching.
Jesus counters their silliness by referring to the highly esteemed David. “Hey you think what we have done is bad. May I remind you of what the man after God’s own heart did? He, AND HIS MEN, took and ate the sacred loaves of bread from the Table of Showbread. They took it from THE HOLY PLACE ON THE SABBATH.” Over all of this Luke climaxes the segment with Jesus words (lit.) “LORD (is) over the Sabbath Son of Man.” Lord is in the emphatic position in the sentence. Jesus is LORD over all, including the Sabbath and any and all of the Pharisees petty quibbling. It means He is able to set aside the Sabbath to minister God’s healing or provide for His disciples needs. He is in control of the Sabbath and not vice versa.
In the next story that is appended to this section the opposition escalates. The object of the first dispute were His disciples. The Pharisees took their challenge to His disciples at first, but now Jesus bears the brunt of their attention and challenge. They have left the disciples behind and now focus their animosity on Jesus. They now watch Him to bring an accusation against Him. Jesus knows their thoughts, even before they think them it seems. This time before He does anything He asks the Pharisees a question which highlights their attitude toward the Sabbath and toward Him. “Does the law allow for good deeds on the Sabbath or evil?” Jesus is not referring to the true Law of God but their warped interpretation of it. “Can I save a life on the Sabbath or destroy it by inaction?” Notice the kind of question it is. Jesus doesn’t wait for them to answer the question in order to determine if he proceeds with a healing on the Sabbath or not. He asks the question merely to expose what is in their hearts. The question is asked in such a way that requires the positive answer. Once asked, He proceeds straight to the healing. Notice what else Luke adds! ‘He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” ‘ Looking at them one by one highlights both the fact that He knows what is in their minds, each one. It also highlights each one’s inner evil; their opposition to the Word of God. To the Living Word of God standing before them. His look at each one calls them into question. Their unwillingness to change.
Jesus begins the healing by asking the man to do something impossible. To stretch out his hand. Luke’s choice of words in describing the man’s condition is interesting. The versions translate ξηρός [xēros] as withered, dead, crippled, paralyzed or deformed. Some see this as what we would call infantile paralysis. The point here is that the arm / hand is totally withered and wasted. The muscles have atrophied and the arm is now inoperative. The hardest thing for him to do is to stretch out his arm – physically speaking. But when he exercises his faith and takes Jesus at His word his miracle is received; even before he receives his healing. Because his arm moved in response to Jesus command. Imagine the effect on the pharisees. They are in the same position only it is not their arms that are paralyzed, their hearts and their spirits are!
How do we know this. Because what is their response? Rather than standing in awe at what they have seen, they are so intent on “doing evil” that they go wild with rage and discuss what to do with Him. How absurd and how revealing of their inner selves. Something Jesus already knows.
God doesn’t send the LOST into the church. He sends the FOUND into the world!Rick Godwin
Fear often dresses up as anger.Rick Warren
If we are searching & haven’t found the right answer … maybe it’s because we haven’t asked the right question.Jonny Herjawan
The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.B B King