Saturday 04 September 2010

Bible Book:

] said to them, 'The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.'" (v.5)

Luke 6:1-5 Saturday 4 September 2010


When he was just a boy, David was anointed king by the prophetSamuel (1 Samuel 16:13). King Saul was still in chargeof Israel, technically. After famously defeating Goliath (1Samuel 17:19-58), David grew in stature and gained a band offollowers, awaiting a time when Saul's reign would end and hisanointing would be confirmed. One day, David and his followers,exhausted and hungry, claimed the right to eat the consecratedbread in God's house, something normally only priests could do (1Samuel 21:1-6). The Law was put aside as God's anointeddemanded that their needs to be fed outweighed any ritualrules.

Move forward several hundred years and we find Jesus with his bandof followers walking through the countryside, hungry. Jesus hadbeen anointed by God (that's what 'Messiah' means) and this specialstatus had been announced at his conception, his birth, hisblessing in the Temple, his baptism... He was the walkingembodiment of God's blessing, but this had not yet been recognisedby those 'in charge'. He was king, he just hadn't beencrowned.

And so there's a conflict arising with those who fail to see thebigger picture. The observance of the Sabbath law (much of whichwas merely interpretation of the commandments) was a point of greatfriction between Jesus and the Jewish teaching authorities.

Even though wayfarers were allowed to help themselves to food tosatisfy hunger (Deuteronomy 23:25) Jesus' disciples were seento fall foul of certain Sabbath prohibitions. By picking and eatinggrain they were 'technically' reaping, threshing, winnowing andpreparing food - all forbidden! You can see how picky his opponentswere.

Jesus saw a law of love that overrode anything that would oppressor disable human life. The Law was good, but it was there for humanbenefit. Human need must come first - not the barren legalism thatsome seemed to value above life itself.

Jesus summed up his argument by saying that "The Son of Man is lordof the Sabbath". And this can mean at least two things. First,Jesus was the Son of Man. This is a term he frequently used todescribe himself. It is also a term with deeper significance in theJewish Scriptures - the Old Testament figure Daniel propheticallysaw an apocalyptic Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven (Daniel7:13). Second, 'son of man' could be also used to describehumanity - a 'son of man' was a person. Perhaps bothinterpretations are true here. Jesus is indeed Lord of all things,including the Sabbath, but as he said elsewhere, "The sabbath wasmade for humankind, not humankind for the sabbath" (Mark 2:27).

To Ponder

What was Jesus implying by comparing himself toDavid? What are the similarities and differences between King Davidand King Jesus?

When, in our lives, or even in the Church, do weseem to put ritual and rules before basic human life and wellbeing?How would this differ from the gospel life Jesus points to?

Many regret the loss of the Sabbath in Britishsociety. As a result many people work longer hours, get stressedand lose time for family, worship or proper relaxation. To whatextent have we found out by losing the Sabbath, just what a giftfrom God it is?

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