Lent Series: Sabbath Controversies

The Sabbath is our holy day of rest. God told us to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. We usually go to the synagogues to listen to the Rabbi’s teach. Otherwise, we do nothing else but rest. We don’t even cook! Food is prepared the day before so we don’t have to.
As I have been following Jesus everywhere, this Sabbath day, I was walking in a grain field, trying to hide from Him and the disciples but close enough so I could watch and listen to them talking. The disciples began to get hungry so they began to pluck the heads of grain and eat them. Granted we have been walking for what seemed like ages and I was even hungry, not having anything to eat for quite a while. I figured, if the disciples did it, so could I, so I started to eat the heads of grain as well.
Then some Pharisees saw us. They were irate. They charged up to us complaining about what the disciples were doing saying they were breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath. First of all the grain had already been harvested, all that was left on the heads were the leftovers which were left for the poor to glean according to Levitical law. I thought, what was the big deal? According to the Pharisees, it was a massive deal.
Jesus responds to the Pharisees reminding them what David did when Abiathar was high priest. David and his companions were hungry so they went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread the priest were only allowed to eat (see 1 Samuel 21). Jesus explained that even priests had to work on the Sabbath and He wanted the Pharisees to show mercy not offer sacrifices (Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8).
Jesus also said to the Pharisees “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of the people and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath”.
Jesus said it again, He is the Son of Man, He is Lord, even over the Sabbath. He is declaring He is equal with God! John the Baptist was right! I am unworthy to speak to Jesus or even follow Him. I have been waiting all my life to meet this Messiah, the Christ, the Lord and here He is speaking in front of me. There are no words to describe how I feel at this moment in time other than awe and amazement.
Jesus, the disciples, the Pharisees and I went into the synagogue on another Sabbath day. A man with a deformed hand was there. The Pharisees saw this as another opportunity to mock Jesus and His claims as the Lord of the Sabbath. They asked Jesus if the law permits a person to work on the Sabbath by healing.
I looked at Jesus wondering what His reaction would be. He looked sad like a father is with his child who doesn’t obey and pushes the limits. The father still loves his child but there is pain in his eyes when he sees his child go astray. Jesus had that same look in his eyes. Jesus responds to them by asking “If you had a sheep that fell into a well, wouldn’t you go rescue it? This man here is far more valuable than a sheep. The law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”
Jesus asked the man to come to the front of the synagogue. He then healed the man. The Pharisees were wild with rage.
I felt awful. These men who were supposed to be examples to the rest of us were getting angry with the Messiah. What was wrong with these people? Can they not see how wonderful this man Jesus was? Jesus just healed this man. What love! What compassion! What tenacity to go over the heads of the religious elite! I couldn’t understand their opposition.
Jesus started talking with the others that were there. As I waited my turn to hopefully talk to Jesus, I heard the Pharisees plotting to kill him because he stood up to them about the laws of the Sabbath. I thought it was ironic they were complaining about working on the Sabbath but yet they didn’t mind getting together arguing how to get rid of Jesus. I do hope Jesus knows what they are planning to do and stays away from them because I’d like to get to know Him better. It’s too soon for something bad to happen to Him.
*The Sabbath was ultra-protected by the Pharisees who followed the law to a ridiculous degree.
*Jesus and His disciples were not breaking any Sabbath laws – just the Pharisee’s interpretation of them.
• God intended the Sabbath to be spiritually and physically restful for us, not an impossible burden trying to meet narrow man-made rules.
• Jesus declared He is the Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath was stating equality with God- the Sabbath is the Lord’s Day established the seventh day of creation when God rested after He saw all He had created was good.
For further study:
Matthew 12:1-14; Mark 2:23-3:6; Luke 6:1-11

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