Yet another battle between Jesus and the Pharisees. This one concerns interpretation of Jewish law. When Jesus and His disciples gather wheat on the Sabbath, they “broke the law”. And, religious leaders were quick to grab every opportunity to catch Christ in a crime, including this one about working on the Sabbath.
Pharisees were sticklers of the law; the ten commandments – which eventually became hundreds.
They were quick to point out people who were breaking of these laws. And, they especially pointed toward Christ and His disciples. Let’s see what Jesus says about working on the Sabbath.
Disciples Gather Wheat on the Sabbath – What Did Jesus Say in Mark 2:23-28?
And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain.
The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?”
Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:23-28 NASB
Disciples gather wheat on the Sabbath
Jesus Talks about Working on the Sabbath
By first reading this passage, you might get the impression that Jesus and His disciples were picking the grain without permission – or were trespassing.
But, in reality, it was customary for farmers to leave the outside rows of their wheat fields un-harvested, especially to feed travelers and the poor.
Breaking the Law
So, what law was being broken?
According to Exodus 34:21, no work should be done on the Sabbath which was set aside for rest…
“You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.” – Exodus 34:21
The Pharisees were masters of “majoring in the minors” when it came to interpreting the law and sought out every small misdemeanor as reason to apply the laws to others; especially when these “crimes” involved Jesus.
Were the Pharisees Bad People?
Not all. But, many Pharisees placed themselves above others. And, they were thorough when it came to the law.
They (the Pharisees) had the noblest of intentions when interpreting the law.
But, many times they completely missed the point.
These leaders were so caught-up in the laws of the Sabbath that they ignored the true meaning of why the law was created.
Jesus completely understood the true meaning of the Sabbath.
He confirmed that the Sabbath was made in order for us…
- to rest
- to be physically & mentally restored
- and to talk to God.
Are We More Like Jesus – or the Pharisees?
I feel that we, in many ways, are more like the Pharisees. We are sometimes eager to point out wrong doings of others in order to hide our own shortcomings (Matthew 7:4).
As Christians, let’s be careful not to apply God’s laws to other people unless we understand them ourselves.
Even then, we should use what we know to gently nudge; not to chastise others.
Love in Christ
If you would like to discover more about the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to read John 3:16.