SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
“Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first[a] that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”
3 But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” 5 And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
Healing on the Sabbath
6 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. 8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” 10 And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. 11 But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.”
Memory Verse Luke 6:5 (NIV)
“THEN JESUS SAID TO THEM, “THE SON OF MAN IS LORD OF THE SABBATH.”“
In a previous edition we learnt about Jesus’ response to those who went to him to ask about why his disciples were not fasting and praying as the disciples of the Pharisees and John the Baptist. A lot of lessons were learnt from there. One of the key lessons was that Christians should not be influenced by laws which make it impossible for us to enjoy our liberty in Christ. In this edition, we want to look at Jesus’ reaction to another biblical law which had somehow been made complicated by the Pharisees. It is the Sabbath.
One day as Jesus and his disciples were going through the grain fields, his disciples became hungry and plucked some of the grains, rubbed them in their hands and ate the kernel. It was on a Sabbath day. When some Pharisees saw them they asked why they were doing what was unlawful on the Sabbath. To them it was unlawful because they regarded the rubbing of the grains in their hands as work and as the Sabbath law teaches, no one should work on the Sabbath. The problem is what the Pharisees described as unlawful. When the Pharisees asked the question, Jesus quickly came in and responded. He did not allow his disciples to struggle looking for answers to the Pharisees. Probably Jesus knew they had no right answers for the Pharisees and any wrong answers could lead them into more problems with the religious leaders. So he stepped in and answered on their behalf even though he did not participate in what they did. This should be a great relief to every believer to know that when we walk faithfully with the Lord, he shall never leave us alone in times of difficulties. When we get to the point where we do not even know what to do or say, he will help us out of our troubles.
May the Lord save you from eminent challenges in your life today in Jesus’ name! I want to pray particularly for believers standing trial today that Jesus will be their advocate and set them free as he has done for the woman in Sudan!
In Jesus’ response, he showed the disciples had not committed any offence since they had not broken any laws. He reminded them of what their father David did as something which was against the law yet it was not counted against him since it was a necessity. David’s was more offensive because he ate what was reserved for only priests even though he was not a priest. Worst of all David gave some to those who were with him. This means that David violated the law and influenced a lot of people to do the same. The strange thing is that the Pharisees did not regard what David did as unlawful since they have very high regard for him. His answer silenced the Pharisees who could no longer ask him any further questions. Jesus silenced the accusers of the disciples. May every mouth which rises against you in judgment be condemned in Jesus’ name! May all your accusers be silenced today as you walk faithfully with the Lord Jesus Christ!
Jesus went further to tell the Pharisees of his deity as the Lord of the Sabbath. He described himself as the Son of Man, a description which shows that he is God. Jesus was thus saying that he was the Creator of the Sabbath and that he had the authority to overrule the Pharisees’ traditions and regulations. God’s word supersedes every human tradition or worldly philosophy. We should understand that the Creator is always superior to the creation. No human wisdom, rule, law or philosophy should be put above the gospel. Anyone who attempts to put human laws above the gospel as the Pharisees did may be fighting against God who is the King over all people and creatures.
Jesus wanted to teach the Pharisees and all of us that human needs are more important than human regulations and rules. He was not trying to condemn David and his companions but was telling the Pharisees that the needs of David and his companions had been more important than ceremonial regulations. Unfortunately many Christians and Christian organizations place much premium on human laws and regulations than the word of God. We should all come to the understanding that any attempt to place any human philosophy, traditions, regulations and rules above God’s word is sinful and must be avoided. The word of God should be used in judging all cases and not human laws or regulations. May the Lord Jesus Christ help us to understand his word and follow it always!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Above we looked at Jesus’ response to the accusations against his disciples concerning the breaking of the Sabbath law. Jesus make it clear to the Pharisees that his disciples had not flouted any Sabbath law because plucking of grains and eating due to hunger does not amount to doing one’s regular work on the Sabbath day. It became obvious that such laws had been added by the Pharisees but not originally part of God’s law. Such laws and regulations which are man-made should never be held above the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this edition we want to learn the proper way of observing the Sabbath from the Lord of the Sabbath who is Jesus Christ.
On another Sabbath day Jesus went to the synagogue to teach as was his custom. A man with a deformed hand also went to the synagogue. This shows that not anyone who comes to our church meetings is completely healthy. Some come with several health, financial and psychological needs. But our needs should not prevent us from joining believers in worshiping our Maker. Some people refuse to go to church because they think they have no money. So they rather stay at home forgetting that the owner of all silver and gold is the Lord. He is also the greatest physician. Therefore when we are sick we should not feel shy to join the assembly of believers, perhaps the Lord will meet our needs that day. Even though the man was suffering from a deformity in his hand he did not allow that to prevent him from going to the synagogue. It is my prayer that as you join believers to worship, the Lord Jesus Christ will meet all your needs!
The Pharisees had a wrong understanding about Jesus’ ministry. So they did not perceive teaching to be Jesus’ core work. Rather they understood healing to be Jesus’ main work. Consequently they were not in any way bothered about Jesus’ teaching on the Sabbath but wanted to accuse him of healing on the Sabbath day. Therefore when they saw the man with a shriveled hand they watched closely to see if Jesus would make any attempt to heal him so they could use it to accuse him. It should be noted that the Pharisees were unhappy with Jesus’ growing popularity and were looking for ways of stopping him. We should all be reminded that as the LORD blesses us and elevates us above others they will plan our destruction. They may use both spiritual and physical means to curtail our progress and successes. But I have come to announce to you that no one can stop you from accomplishing your divine task because the one who is in you is greater than all those who rise against you. He knows even the thoughts of your enemies before they execute it. May the thoughts of all your enemies against you be exposed today in Jesus’ name!
Jesus knew their thoughts, asked the man to stand in front of all those gathered at the synagogue and restored his hand by telling him to stretch out his hand. Jesus’ words bring healing, comfort and restoration to his people. His words healed the man with shriveled hand. It is my prayer that Jesus will speak into your situation today. May these words you are reading now speak into your situation and bring about positive changes in your life as you believe the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking about him. So even before he healed the man he asked them about the proper way of observing the Sabbath. He asked them whether it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath day or to do evil. He also asked them whether it was lawful to save life or destroy it on the Sabbath day. The silence of the people makes it clear that they realized it was more lawful to save a life and do good on the Sabbath.
Thus Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, taught us the proper manner of observing the Sabbath. He taught that believers should concentrate on doing what is good on the Sabbath. So as long as we spend the Sabbath day doing what glorifies the Lord we become acceptable before the Lord. Who among us will refuse taking a sick relative to the hospital on the Sabbath when the need arises? How will you describe a doctor who refuses to attend to you in your critical condition because it is a Sabbath day? How many of us will prevent a doctor from attending to us because it is a Sabbath day? Personally I do not think that a Christian doctor whose mother falls seriously sick on a Sabbath day will refuse to take care of her. What Jesus taught implies that the Sabbath must be dedicated to the service of God by concentrating on doing only what brings glory to God and not what satisfies our selfish interests.
This is not to encourage anyone to abuse the Sabbath. God has asked us in his law to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. We should all remind ourselves that the Sabbath day must be dedicated to doing what is holy and brings glory to God. This does not also imply that the other days can be used for doing what is sinful! May the Lord of the Sabbath help us to understand how to observe the Sabbath!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.