Jesus Getting Snarky Over the Sabbath | Luke 6.1-5


One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
Luke 6.1-5

I’ll be honest, I really don’t understand Jesus’ logic here. Yes, I get that Jesus is referencing this David story to simply say that there is precedent for eating food (even holy food) on the Sabbath. But if that’s the case, his logic is this: “You don’t like what I’m doing? Well, based on a very simplistic reading of the Bible, someone else did it, therefore I can do it.”

He does know that David also did the whole adultery and murder thing with Bathsheeba, right? Just because someone else did it, doesn’t explain why you have the right to do it. Secondly, after saying saying all this, he goes ahead and says that it doesn’t even matter anyway because he is “lord of the Sabbath”.

So, in the end, it seems to me like Jesus is just trying to be snarky here.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

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4 thoughts on “Jesus Getting Snarky Over the Sabbath | Luke 6.1-5

  1. I’m trying to make up my mind whether you are just trying to be snarky here yourself. 😉

    The Lord knows that the Pharisees who confront him are knowledgeable of the stories in Scripture, so I don’t doubt that He knew that the meaning He may not have laid out meticulously in this passage would be clear to them merely by the reference. They would, in the first place, have known that the law (in Deuteronomy 23) drew a distinction between reaping with a sickle and plucking some heads of one’s neighbor’s field with one’s hands. They also would have known the logic that David and the priest employed in the taking and eating of the showbread: that some degree of purification was required of the men in order to have permission, purification that they had in fact observed. (We ourselves can in this detail also see something that the Pharisees would have missed: namely the parallel with the Eucharist—being purified ascetically in advance of partaking of it, as Christians would later do in preparation for Communion and as David’s men had done before taking the bread of the Presence.) This story well illustrates that the Pharisees were challenging Christ over something that very likely did not constitute forbidden work on a sabbath anyway, and, as we see in another sabbath challenge in the Gospel as well, mercy in a time of need need (such as the priest’s mercy for David’s men) is greater than the most restrictive reading of the law.

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  2. Pingback: #Marginalia Weekly Round-Up #6 [Catch-Up] | the long way home | Prodigal Paul

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