Trouble on the Sabbath
Lord, I worship You. You are the Almighty God, whom the heavens cannot contain. How truly great You are.
Read LUKE 6:1-11
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“I am Your servant; give me discernment that I may understand Your statutes… Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them” (Psa. 119:125,129).
During the Babylonian exile, God’s people were unable to worship in the sacred space of the Temple, not least because it had been destroyed. Consequently, observing sacred time, the Sabbath, became very significant to them (Isa. 56:4,6; 58:13). No wonder the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day sought to protect it by hedging it around with all sorts of rules. In doing so, however, they had fundamentally misunderstood its purpose and turned God’s liberating gift into a burden.
Jesus challenged their understanding, twice in short succession. First (1-5), he didn’t rebuke his disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath, which would have been classified as work. Second (6-11), on another Sabbath he himself healed a disabled man, which would also have been seen as work. In both cases Jesus challenged his critics’ understanding: in the first case by referring to what their great King David once did when hungry (1 Sam. 21:1-6). Jesus subtly points out that one who was greater than David is present and he is the supreme Ruler over all, even the Sabbath. In the second case, he takes them back to fundamental principles: Scripture taught that a failure to do good when you could was, in effect, to do evil (Prov. 3:27-28; see also Jas. 4:17). Neither argument convinced the religious leaders, who were already emotionally committed to disposing of Jesus.
These stories offer a strong warning to people who are concerned about pleasing God and gauging their ability, and that of others, by measuring how minutely they obey particular applications of grand principles, rather than the principles themselves. The New Testament becomes ambiguous about Sabbath observance (Rom. 14:5; Col. 2:16-23), but it is never ambiguous about feeding the hungry or doing good.
Think of an area where you disagree with fellow Christians. How far is the disagreement one of principle and how far is it one of tradition or application of a principle?
Gracious Lord, I need Your discernment to separate the minor from the major in my daily decisions. In all things I want to glorify You.
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