Chapter 6:1-11 (ESV) - On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Question to consider: Why were the Pharisees furious with Jesus for healing the man with the withered hand?
Once Luke established that the Son of Man had authority to forgive sins, Jesus called a tax collector to be His disciple who then invited a house full of tax collectors and sinners to be forgiven by Jesus. From there Luke points out that not only does Jesus eat and drink with sinners, but His own disciples did not fast for their prescribed Sabbaths and holy days that they added to the law in their traditions.
Today, Luke begins to address the traditions of the Pharisees in regard to the Sabbath. The Pharisees held to a set of traditions that they professed to receive directly from God. They referred to them as the oral Torah and had 39 categories of traditions in regard to the Sabbath alone. In it they defined what constituted work and considered anyone who went against these traditions as sinning against the Sabbath.
So when they saw the disciples plucking heads of grain on the Sabbath and eating them, they accused Jesus of allowing His disciples to be unlawful. Jesus pokes holes in their tradition by pointing to God’s written word which contradicted their “law.” He then made the bold proclamation that the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath. After all, the Sabbath found its fulfillment in Christ.
From here on, the Pharisees carefully observed Jesus’ actions, hoping to trap Him in sin. They thought they could accuse Him of violating the Sabbath by healing the man’s withered hand. Of course, Jesus did not care about keeping their oral Torah because they did not receive their traditions directly from God as they had supposed.
By purposely violating them and pointing out where they contradicted the written word of God, Jesus undermined their authority among the people. Today, we live in a time where knowledge of scripture is at an all time low despite the fact that we have access to more biblical resources than ever before. Like the Pharisees, teachers today will vilify those who point out false doctrine and label them heresy hunters rather than humbly submit to the truth of God’s word.
Dear heavenly father, help us to humbly seek after the truth found in Your word. We thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and helps us discern truth from error. Help us to prioritize our relationship with You over the things of this world. Amen.