Day 13: A Costly Snack

Read Matthew 12: 1-8, Mark 2: 23-27
Luke 6: 1-5

How great would it be if, while shopping at the grocery store, you were allowed to snag bites of whatever you pleased off the shelves?

Something tells me the store owners wouldn’t take kindly to this practice.

But, as established back in Deuteronomy 23:25, the Jewish people had a rule where travelers could pick off heads of grain to eat. They weren’t allowed to plunder their neighbor’s field, but some nourishment was allowed.

So when the Pharisees called out the disciples for munching on their way through a grainfield, the probably wasn’t what they were doing, but when they were doing it. This occurred on the Sabbath, a day intended for rest (Exodus 20:8-11). According to the Pharisees, the disciples committed several acts of “work” when they picked the grain:

  • Reaping
  • Threshing
  • Winnowing
  • Preparing food

Yes, I’m rolling my eyes just as hard as you are.

The Pharisees, jealous and not yet sure what to make of this Jesus guy, were desperate to discredit Him and undermine His mission in any way possible, no matter how tiny the infraction. As the disciples popped a few kernels into their mouths, the Pharisees jumped out for their “Gotcha!” moment: “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:2)

Jesus was having none of this nonsense.

“Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions ate the consecrated bread – which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” (Hosea 6:6) you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Translation: “Really, guys? Please.”

Jesus respected rules, but He wasn’t afraid to break rules that weren’t worth following. He had little patience for flimsy laws unsupported by scripture. If fact, He used the Bible’s teachings (which the Pharisees would’ve been well familiar with) to combat their accusations:

  • In 1 Samuel 21, David and his companions ate holy bread out of necessity, thus it was justified.
  • In Numbers 28, there are tasks listed for Temple workers to complete on the Sabbath. It’s basically impossible to do no work on the Sabbath. The Pharisees had stretched the limits of what God created to fit their needs.

But the last sentence in that passage is absolutely critical. The Sabbath was intended to provide rest and time to reconvene with God, making it an important part of Jewish culture. But it’s not more important that than the One who created it.

Don’t get so wrapped up in man-made laws that you lose focus of our purpose here on Earth. We’re called to glorify God and create disciples, not please men. I’m not saying you should start grabbing handfuls of Skittles and Lucky Charms as you shop, but don’t be afraid to reference scripture to double check human instructions.