Summary: Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, but is He your Lord?
Who’s In Charge?
Woodlawn Baptist Church
July 9, 2006
Read Luke 6:1-11
One afternoon while I was surfing the web, I came across a website that asked the question, “Was Jesus Sinless?” The author of the site openly declared that Jesus was indeed a sinner and proceeded to give twelve proofs of His sinfulness. One of those so-called proofs was Jesus’ refusal to observe the Sabbath. Exodus 20:9 says, “The seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work.” The author, like the Pharisees in verse 2 of our text, found Jesus guilty of breaking this command from God. But not only was Jesus guilty of breaking this law, He was guilty of arguing with Jewish legal authorities who were authorized to interpret the Law.
Was Jesus sinless or not? Of course we say that He was not, but as we read in this account, the Jewish authorities of His day clearly thought that Jesus was most certainly a sinner and a blasphemer. In this message, I want to demonstrate to you that it is Jesus, not the Pharisees or scribes or even you and me who really understand God’s will as expressed in His Word, and it is Jesus alone who is Lord, not only of the Sabbath, but of all of life.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this passage is about the Sabbath. It is not. What it is about is Jesus’ authority. He calls into question His authority to interpret Scripture and to be God’s agent on earth. Jesus makes clear the fact that it is He who determines what is right and wrong and who really knows what God’s will is. Not only is the passage not about the Sabbath, it is also not about legalism. It’s not about this rule or that rule. It’s not a context between the legalism of the Pharisees and the so-called liberalism of Jesus. It is about none of that.
Today I want you to be clear on this one thing: Jesus Christ is Lord! Augustine said that Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all. Today I want you to recognize His great worth and make Him the Lord of your life.
Jesus Declared Himself To Be Lord Of The Sabbath
As Jesus and the disciples passed through the corn field, the Bible says they “plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.” Now the Pharisees evidently had been dogging them and had witnessed this act, so they confronted them about breaking the law. Now to be sure, the Law was very strict about Sabbath observance. It was unlawful for a man to even pick up sticks on the Sabbath day.
The Law also forbade harvesting on the Sabbath, but Luke is careful in choosing his words. They were not harvesting, but plucking. They were not threshing, but rubbing, and there was certainly nothing wrong with eating. But over the years as people looked for loopholes in the Law and found ways to get around it, the scribes and Pharisees began to interpret the Law in more and more strict forms. They tried to define in strict form what every command meant and what it allowed. As a result, harvesting on the Sabbath eventually came to mean even plucking an ear of corn on the Sabbath.
When they asked in verse 2, “Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days?” you need to understand that it was not lawful according to scribal interpretation rather than according to the Law itself. Jesus understood that, so He confronted them on it. He asked them whether they had read the story of David getting the showbread from the tabernacle for himself and his followers when they were hungry.
Jesus knew they had read the story, but did they really understand it? This event and that story don’t really seem to have much in common, but the point is to see that Jesus was saying that He, not these Pharisees, understood the significance of the Scriptures. They may have read them and even tried to interpret them, but they didn’t understand them.
You see, the Pharisees saw the Sabbath as a boundary-keeping mechanism. They saw Sabbath keeping as a sign of faithfulness to and love for God. “If you do not observe the Sabbath, then you are unfaithful. You don’t really love God.” Don’t tell me you don’t understand what they were doing. How many of you notice people not attending church and think to yourself that they do not love God like you do? Or if someone doesn’t tithe or serve or do this or that like you then they aren’t as faithful as you are? We pervert the Word of God by making people measure up to some standard of performance to prove to us that they love God when God never created such a standard.