Daily Archives: November 4, 2010

Lord of the Sabbath

Luke 6:[1] On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. [2] But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” [3] And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: [4] 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?” [5] And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus has been accused of breaking the Sabbath and He has responded by reminding them that David was permitted to violate the law when he was hungry. But that is not where Jesus’ arguments ended. He has one more thing to say on the subject: “…the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath”. In other words, “I can do whatever I like”. This comment by Jesus would have infuriated anyone who did not believe that Jesus was The Son of God. He is stating that He is over the Sabbath as its Lord. This means that it is His invention and as He brought it into being He has the right to put it to an end or keep it going. This is a statement that He is God indeed. The Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments and to claim to be Lord over the commandments is to claim that One is greater than the Law. This is a clear evidence that Jesus considered Himself to be God in the flesh. And He was. He is.

No Pharisee can teach or lecture Jesus about proper observance of the Sabbath, or proper obedience to any law. He is the Author of them. He knows what He meant when He wrote them and He knows, as a human being, how best to keep them. This is part of the marvel of the incarnation. The eternal Son of God lived here. He knows what it is like to experience pain and weakness. He knows what it is like to be tempted to sin. And He knows what it is like to be taught twisted ideas about how to please God.

In Mark’s account of this encounter with the Pharisees we are told that Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. God’s laws are for our good. None of them were meant to put us in a straight jacket and keep us from enjoying life. God knows what is best for us and He knows better than to let us destroy ourselves with all the wrong things. It is sin that ruins us, not the laws of God.

The Pharisees want Jesus to abide by rules that hurt and damage and will lead to a sense of self righteousness and away from God. Jesus came to save people from their sin, including the sin of legalisms and self righteousness. Real liberty is only found in Him and obeying His commands is what all those who truly love Him will gladly do.