He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
How do you handle conflict? Do you immediately blow up? Does a thermonuclear mushroom cloud rise from your head whenever anyone says anything? Does it take you a while to screw up your courage before you open your mouth at all? Do you start planning your painful and vicious counterattack from the first word? Or do you just take it, allowing the verbal body blows to pummel you?
Jesus kept quiet for a while. But then when he comes out, he brings it.
He didn’t debate them or the idea directly, but tries to answer their argument in the same way that a parent puts a child down for a nap. He uses a well-known story that they would all be very familiar with. This example from the life of King David shows flexibility and creativity in certain parts of God’s plan, at certain times. And how can you argue with King David?
Jesus gives this story about King David to show us who he is so we can align ourselves with him. Contrary to popular opinion, both today and back then with the Pharisees, God is not looking down from heaven with a big stick in his hand, just waiting for the opportunity to pounce on us over the smallest slip.
The idea of the Sabbath is that it’s a means to an end, for the good of all people. The Pharisees, along with all the rest of the religious know-it-alls, only want to see lots and lots of little rules. Little rules that they can use to jump all over people with, showing off their power instead of demonstrating God’s mercy.
I know that the idea of the Sabbath has been under attack for some time. After all, with technology and flexibility, we can work from anywhere, at any time, on any day. And this is good – to a point. Working all the time, day in, day out, has brought us to the brink of disaster.
There has never been more a more exhausted, depressed, stressed generation. And in response, we are self-medicating ourselves at an all time high with drugs, alcohol, porn, gambling. People are leaving their jobs in record numbers in search of a better life, not just better pay.
The idea behind the Sabbath is that God made us, and he knows how much we can handle. He knows that we are not machines but need rest and renewal every so often. Isn’t that what people are looking for? Shouting for? Crying out for?
The Sabbath is not about taking anything away from us, but it’s totally about giving something to us. It’s not trying to take away our independence, our self-determination, taking control away from us and giving it to someone else. The Sabbath is all about renewing us, giving us rest, putting strength back into us.
Jesus ends his answer, not on the defensive, but with an offensive bombshell. His answer goes something like this.
Question: Who came up with the idea and made the Sabbath?
Question: Who built in exceptions to the Sabbath?
Question: When Jesus says that he’s Lord of the Sabbath, who is he claiming to be?
Jesus makes it clear that he “is” Lord, not only of the Sabbath, but all of life. He doesn’t hope to become Lord sometime in the future, or after some additional education, degrees and experience. He doesn’t have to wait for someone to die to become Lord like earthly kings or queens. Or win an election to be installed as Lord.
He says that he’s Lord right now. The creator, the sustainer, the owner of everyone and everything. And as the owner, he has the right to do whatever he wants with his possessions.
And when it comes to you and me, Jesus desperately wants us to turn towards him and take a step in his direction. His focus is not to rap us on the knuckles, but to wrap us up in his arms.
When he says that he loves you, it means that he wants nothing but the absolute best for you. His actions and intent is only for our good. He is patient, kind, compassionate, loving.
How could we turn away from a God like that?