Luke 6:1-11

Debates about the Sabbath

I have been reading a chapter of the Gospel of Luke each evening during Advent. In Chapter 6 Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees and scribes about what He is doing on the Sabbath. In verses 1 through 5, He is walking through a field of grain with His disciples. Some of them start picking heads from the grain, rubbing it between their fingers and eating the grain. The Pharisees and scribes complain that what they are doing is unlawful on the Sabbath. I wondered if the “watchers” were hiding behind rocks or trees or following Jesus everywhere He went. It was unlawful to walk more than a mile or so (can’t remember the exact distance) on the Sabbath, so why were these folks about?

First Jesus compares Himself to David – which I hadn’t noticed before – when He says “have you not read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry?” The men ate the bread of offering from the Temple which only the priests were allowed to eat. Then He reminded the Pharisees and the scribes that He was the Son of Man, a title first noticed in Daniel. Jesus ascribes that title to Himself often in the Gospels. Jesus even tells them that He is “lord of the sabbath” which, to my mind, says that He is the One – God.

The people of the time were familiar with the prophecies of Daniel as he had given the time that the Messiah was to appear. This was the time, so no doubt they were “on the lookout” for him. The healings and other miracles that Jesus performed would have been a sign to them that Jesus was a Messiah, but they were constantly testing Him, not sure if He was the One to come. I understand why they were testing Him. It was important to their faith to “have no other Gods before Me”. So they were careful, as they should have been.

But on the other hand, Jesus was constantly “poking” them whenever they questioned Him. He asked them questions about their faith such as “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than do evil, to save life rather than destroy it?” This happens in the next episode about the man with the withered hand. Jesus’ questions only enraged the Pharisees and scribes. Did any of them think about what He was saying? Did they think that He was mocking their faith?