Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Knowing the Word

"Have you not even read this?"
Luke 6:3

Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees, as they accused His disciples of breaking the law on the Sabbath Day.  They were all traveling along, and the Disciples grew hungry, so they plucked a few heads of grain and ate them, “rubbing them in their hands.”  Since eating certainly can’t have been considered breaking the Sabbath, it must have been either the plucking of the heads of grain, or the rubbing of them in their hands, to render them edible.

So the Pharisees think they have a valid reason to complain, and they pounce.   Now, as I picture this, I’m wondering what the Pharisees were doing there.  They were hardly eager to hear the teachings of Jesus, and I doubt the two groups just happened to bump into each other in the field because they were all hungry.  No, I think it’s safe to assume that the Pharisees were following Jesus and His disciples, hoping to catch them doing or saying something for which they could finally say those words they so longed to say, “Aha!  Gotcha!”

But even that didn’t go as well as they hoped, because unfortunately for them, Jesus just would not sin.  They had to settle for catching His disciples doing something questionable.  Can’t you just imagine them speaking to each other in hushed whispers?

“Hey, look!  Look at His followers!”
“What?  I don’t see anything.  They are just walking through a field.”
“Yeah, but look!  They are chewing!”
“So what?  That’s no crime.  The last time I scolded somebody about chewing, it was my little brother, and my mother sent me to bed without any fig pie for being self-righteous.”
“No, no, not the chewing!  What are they chewing?  They didn’t have any food earlier, did they?”
“No, you’re right – look!  They are plucking as they walk and  ~ *gasp!* ~ they are rubbing the grain in their hands!!”

And with this “horrifying” realization, the Pharisees moved in for the kill.  They couldn’t accuse Jesus, so they went for the next best thing, and questioned the disciples.  But to their surprise, it was Jesus who answered them.  Perhaps He knew His disciples would be flustered, or perhaps He didn’t want Peter to fly into a rage.  Or perhaps the disciples’ mouths were full…

At any rate, Jesus responded by reminding the Pharisees of something they knew well – the Scriptures.  He spoke of a time when the revered King David had done something far worse when he was hungry:  went into the temple to get some of the sacred bread to feed himself and his hungry men.  God knew David’s heart, and that what made him a good leader was how much He loved His men.  No leader can expect loyalty or bravery from hungry, demoralized men.

And I love Jesus’ last line in this exchange:  “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”  That could have been His only reply to the Pharisees, but it wasn’t.  He was making a further point:  that reading the Scriptures isn’t enough if you’re not going to learn from them.  The story of David and his men had been divinely included in the Scriptures for a reason, but the Pharisees missed the lesson.  And Jesus points that out with the question that cuts them to the quick:  “Have you not even read this?”  Now what?  Do they admit that they do not remember this passage?  Or do they acknowledge that while they knew the story well, they missed the point?  Which is worse?  Which would you answer? 

Scripture should be not just read, but remembered and applied.  The accounts we read in the Bible are not just history stories, they are lessons for us.   What better reason to read and know what He says to us in His Word?

~ "The Word of God is living and powerful, 
and sharper than any two-edged sword, 
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, 
and of joints and marrow, 
and is a discerner 
of the thoughts and intents of the heart." ~
Hebrews 4:12

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