Summary: In our story today, the Forbidding Pharisees are back and do they ever have an attitude! They have a whole slew of legislated laws regarding the Sabbath that they expect everyone to keep with exacting detail, and they have made it their life’s work to ens
Jesus and the Forbidding Pharisees – Part 2
Who Do You Think You’re Talking To?
During the Victorian era, one how-to-do-it-right manual was Lady Gough’s Book of Etiquette. In this volume, putting books by male authors next to books by female authors was forbidden – unless the authors were married.
• Different parts of the United States, as well as other parts of the world, have some unique and eccentric laws of their own. In Alabama, putting salt on a railroad track may be punishable by death and keeping an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time is a crime.
• A law in Fairbanks, Alaska does not allow moose to have sex on city streets. In Alaska, you may hunt a bear safely but it is illegal to wake a bear and take a picture for photo opportunities.
• In Arizona, US, donkeys cannot sleep in bathtubs and you may be imprisoned for 25 years for cutting down a cactus.
• In Arkansas, schoolteachers who bob their hair are not eligible for a raise and it is illegal to buy or sell blue light bulbs.
• In Baldwin Park, California, nobody is allowed to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool
• In Los Angeles, a man can legally beat his wife with a leather belt or strap, but the belt can’t be wider than 2 inches, unless he has his wife’s consent to beat her with a wider strap. Consent should be given prior to the event, as is carefully stipulated in the law.
• In the Philippines, cars whose license plates end with a 1 or 2 are not allowed on the roads on Monday, 3 or 4 on Tuesday, 5 or 6 on Wednesday, 7 or 8 on Thursday, and 9 or 0 on Friday from 7:00 AM onwards to keep roads free of traffic jams.
• In Singapore, it is illegal to come within 50 meters of a pedestrian crossing marker on any street.
• In South Korea, traffic policemen are required to report all bribes that they receive from motorists.
• In Switzerland, it is illegal to flush the toilet after 10 PM.
• In Thailand, it is illegal to leave your house without wearing underwear.
These are just a handful of the silly laws and regulations from around the world that made very good sense to somebody sometime – but they make little or no sense to us today.
In our text this afternoon, we run across a similar situation, but with a sinister twist. In our story today, the Forbidding Pharisees are back and do they ever have an attitude! They have a whole slew of legislated laws regarding the Sabbath that they expect everyone to keep with exacting detail, and they have made it their life’s work to ensure that no one violates their laws.
What I find most interesting is that the Pharisees took the Law of God and interpreted it loosely when it suited their purposes, and wrenched down on it when that suited their purposes.
Remember back in Matthew 5:27-28 when Jesus was speaking about adultery? The Pharisees had so loosened the Law that they allowed a man to divorce his wife if she displeased him for any reason! Jesus comes along and says, “Oh, no! God has ordained that one man is joined to one woman for a lifetime and even to look outside of that bond with desire is the same as having already committed adultery – which is a capitol offense.”
Their lustful and power-grubbing ways had caused them to loosen the Law to suit them. In our lesson today, we see the opposite situation unfold.
As we studied last time, the situation is this: Jesus and His disciples are walking through a grain field on the Sabbath (probably violation #1)… They haven’t had breakfast – in fact, they were good Jews and didn’t do any work at all on the Sabbath. The laws regarding the keeping of the Sabbath as given by God through Moses to the Children of Israel in the wilderness we somewhat specific.
We studied Matthew 12:1-8 last time, which gives one of the accounts of the incident where the Lord’s disciples picking the heads of grain to eat on the Sabbath. When the Pharisees saw it, they went to Jesus and accused them of Sabbath-breaking. The Lord’s response was to acquiesce regarding the charge ("yes, they did what you said"), but to turn to the greater issues at hand. Jesus cited David’s eating of consecrated bread (1 Samuel 21:1-9).
We saw that the common elements of these two events were these: David and Jesus both had followers who broke the Sabbath; food was eaten to alleviate hunger; and there were considerations that justified the Sabbath-breaking.