Luke's portrayal of Jesus is rich with insights into the very character of God and the envisioned kingdom life of the believer. Luke's account gives us life, guiding us to entrust our very being to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Luke did his careful investigation during the time period of those who had an eyewitness account of Jesus' life and ministry. Think about it. Luke was not that different from us here today. He believed by faith, listened and studied the account of others, and was inspired directly by the Holy Spirit. Yes, he had the advantage of speaking to eyewitnesses. We have the advantage of the inspired written Word. We can take our time with patience and repetition and, even the use of silence, so we can clearly hear the quiet whisper, as the message comes to us directly from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Word is alive because our Lord is alive. Luke's writings enable us to place ourselves in the setting of the characters, and with the help of the Holy Spirit bring to light relevance to our modern-day lives. Our faith is alive because our Lord is alive. We can learn our Lord Jesus through our present-day experience in relationship with Him, and also through His book, the Bible. What better way to get to know the Lord than to read all about who He was as a man , a teacher, a counsellor, a servant. God in human form as our role model. I really don't think it gets any better than that.
"One sabbath, Jesus was going through the grain field, and Him disciples decided to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands, and eat the kernels." vs 1
Although Jesus had a home town, Jesus and His disciples were essentially homeless in their ministry. Therefore, it's not surprising that the disciples were in search of food on the Sabbath. But was it against the law to go into a grain field and pick someone else's pearls of grain? The law said you could go into your neighbor's field, but you must not harvest their grain. Yet some some of the pharisees asked why they were doing something unlawful on the Sabbath. The pharisees must have thought they had a "gotcha" moment, because the disciples were doing work on the Sabbath. To them it was tantamount to reaping, threshing, and grinding the grain. The truth is the disciples did not break any of the laws. We might better understand why they were judging the actions seen here as such a serious offense. Go back to Exodus 31:14 where it says,
"You must keep the Sabbath day, for it is a holy day for you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death"
The consequences of desecrating the Sabbath were dire. In verses 3-4:
Jesus answered them, Have you never read what David did when He and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."
But the pharisees only knew the part of this scripture that said that David and his companions ate the consecrated bread. Let's take another example from Matthew 12:11-12:
"If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
There is an principal here. Doing good always has value. Can you imagine what it would be like if no doctors could heal patients, no police could protect the community? What about God Himself? Genesis 2:2 tells us that God rested on the seventh day. I sure hope that God does not rest from doing good on the Sabbath. Jesus gave us a little more insight with Mark 3:27-28:
"Then He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
The Jewish tradition had multiplied the requirements and restrictions for keeping the Sabbath to such a level that the burden had become intolerable. Jesus cut across these traditions and emphasized the God-given purpose of the Sabbath - a day for rest, a day for spiritual restoration. Jesus is Lord of all, even the Sabbath. Jesus has the authority to overrule human regulation, particularly when it comes from a flawed interpretation of the spirit of the law. Jesus is there to help us interpret the law.
In verse 6 Jesus was teaching in a synagogue:
"On another Sabbath He went into a synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath."
Jesus was teaching, and there a need for healing once again. The pharisees were present, looking to see if Jesus was going to violate the law of the Sabbath. In their view, healing the sick on the Sabbath was work. What did Jesus do? Verses 8-11 say:
"But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored."
Jesus saw the need for healing, and He healed the man. Jesus answered His own question through His actions. They really didn't get Jesus' point. Verse 11 tells us:
"But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus."
It's one thing to consider that they didn't recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah they were looking for. It's quite another to witness the miracle Jesus had just performed and interpret it as unlawful. The point the Lord was making was that not doing something can be the evil choice. Not doing, not healing, not allowing hungry people to legally gather a few pearls of grain to eat is the equivalent of evil. The pharisees had gone a long distance from understanding what was at the heart of the guidelines of the Sabbath, a day for rest, spiritual renewal.
Is that why we come here to Church? Spiritual renewal? That's at the heart of the Sabbath. We worship our Lord because we love Him. Matthew 22:37 tells us:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your mind."
Then the Holy Spirit fills us, and we know that we can love our neighbors as ourselves. The Sabbath is a day set aside to show our love for God, and for one another.
The pharisees couldn't hear what Jesus was saying. I would suggest to you that they were so busy looking for rulebreaking, that they were not listening to what was at the heart of the question Jesus was asking. The loving answer was that it is ok to do good, even on the Sabbath.
The good news for us here today is that we have no need to narrow our focus on a detailed and legalistic rule book to know what the right thing to do is. How can we know? We are so truly blessed to have the Holy Spirit as our guide. Walk by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit. God's very nature is demonstrated over and over again by Jesus' love. It was love that was at the heart of the law, not a dictatorial God who was looking to make humanity miserable. Walking by the Spirit is the way, the only way. For me there is no other way.
Today I encourage you to spend time in prayer, read the Word, and go out there to touch the life of another by doing good. Love one another and listen, really listen, for the quiet whisper that comes from the Holy Spirit.