Monday, January 07, 2008
Matthew 12. Jesus and the disciples are walking along their way and, hungry, the disciples are pulling grains of wheat off stalks as they go through some farmer's field. They rub their hands together, blow away the chaff and pop the grains in their mouths.
The pharisees cry "FOUL!" at this sinful behavior. Their fingers point. They accuse these men of breaking the law.
Before you misunderstand, the itinerant snacking is not illegal. They were not stealing nor were they being thus accused. The problem was that is was Saturday -- the Sabbath. They were, by their actions already described, gleaning, thrashing, winnowing and preparing a meal. Sin, sin, sin, sin -- because each of those activities were defined as WORK by their accusers.
Read Jesus' response. It is beautiful. Liberating. Truth-filled and grace motivated. He came, according to his own words, to FULFILL the LAW (not abolish it). He provides the experts of the law a 4-point argument for why they are incorrect -- an argument that demonstrates precedent, based on both law and tradition, and that is dripping with the authority of the Lord of the Sabbath. They weren't so happy about any of it.
Here is the really odd thing. After this encounter is over, the pharisees go and begin plotting Jesus' murder. So, they point fingers for Sabbath snacking but apparently it is okay to plan murder on the Sabbath. That is not work.
(The substitute teaching leader at BSF pointed out that irony tonight.)