On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” ’
There are a lot of times that Jesus did things unconventionally to get everyone’s attention. There are other times that He did things simply out of compassion and mercy. Then, I think, there were other times that He just did things and suddenly it blew up into something more.
If you’ve ever been on a hike in the woods, or out for a walk where you saw a fence covered with honeysuckle, you might have taken a moment to eat some found blackberries or whatever by the road. The Pharisees had strict hand washing rules and strict rules about what you could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath. Needless to say, picking (or harvesting!) grain was out of the question.
Jesus doesn’t use the Bible to justify Himself. He is using part of Israel’s history to help the Pharisees see the right way to regard the Sabbath. You know He’s going to be healing people like crazy on the Sabbath, so this is a lighter lesson.
The bread that David ate while he was on the run from Saul was only for priests, but since he LIED and said he was on a secret message from the king, they gave him some. The point there was that people are more important than the institution. They always are. There are a lot of things in the institution that are helpful, but when it begins to oppress the people that it was intended to serve, it must change.
Israel needed the Law as they came out of 400 years of slavery. They had no government or structure at all. They had no clear ways to interact with God. Centuries later, the Pharisees turned that same beautiful Law into a way to judge, and condemn others while exalting themselves.
Like we talked about with the wineskins and Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law, that stuff had to change.
No longer would a person’s standing with God be decided on things like hand washings or which day of the week they did what things.
The Lord of the Law was now hear to show the point of the Law was Him but they missed it. It was like the Pharisees were sitting on the curb listening to their iPods while Bono, Charlie Daniels, Taylor Swift, and Johnny Cash were saving them a seat inside the pizza joint. They were so stuck on righteousness being measured by men keeping rules that they failed to see the wisdom and love of the living God right in front of them.
Jesus is the point of it all, from David’s wild adventures to what we have to deal with today. Let us not judge others because they broke laws they didn’t know how to keep. Let’s draw near to the author of our souls and grow.