“On Your Mark”
The Spiritual Sabbath (Chapter 2 Verses 23-28)
The next attack comes as an accusation of violating God’s Sabbath law. Of course all the time it is the Person of Jesus, his authority, his uniqueness, as the full and final revelation of God, and their fear of him, which blossoms into full hatred. They, the disciples were picking corn on the Sabbath (v23), which was not stealing (Deuteronomy 23.25), but contrary to Pharisaism, and its many rules. You could not, plough, sow, reap, bind, thresh, winnow, grind, powder and many other things on the Sabbath. It was this code the disciples had transgressed and because Jesus refuses to restrain them, he is guilty too. The accusation (v24), is made with inward delight, they have him dead to rights now. The answer Jesus gives, draws out the fullness of the principle involved, an illustration from the Old Testament (1Samuel 21). Have you never read? No probably not. Plenty of Rabbinical reading and quotations, but not much of God’s word, and little understanding of the inward reality of it. Only a fractional view of what the Bible says on any subject is less than adequate, that is how cults and sects begin, building doctrines on single verses, or with just a smattering of truth.
Well what did David do? He ate what was unlawful. Why? What was his excuse? No excuse, when the moral obligation and the ceremonial law clash, the latter must yield to the former. This crazy Pharisaism was always giving priority to the means, the rite, the outward. In other words God cares more about the condition of the heart than he does about the ceremonial rite. Well if David’s hunger sets aside the Divine principle shall not the hunger of Jesus disciples set aside their mere Rabbinical notions. Of course they did it when it suited them (Luke 13.11ff). The Sabbath law Jesus goes on to point out, was a positive blessing, not a negative principle (v27). Long before being set apart as part of God’s holy law, it was part of the creation mandate (Genesis 2.1-3; Exodus 20.11). Now for the Jews it was a glorious opportunity to show to the nations around them that they belonged to God, by a proper spiritual Sabbath obedience. Is not such a testimony needed in our own day, in a society that is morally, and spiritually bankrupt? When one day blends into another, no time for God, no time for Church, no time to live. There’s a time for everything. To die? And a time to get right with God?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)