Christ is Lord of the Sabbath

by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

THE QUESTION whether Jesus was a Sabbath-breaker or not, arose again soon after he came back to Galilee. On a Sabbath day Jesus was walking with his disciples through the fields of corn. Some of the disciples were hungry, and as they walked picked the heads of the corn.

The law of the Israelites allowed anyone walking by a field of corn to help himself to all that he wished to eat, but forbade him to take any to his home.

But to the Pharisees, who were very exact in their rules of keeping the Sabbath, to pluck the corn was the same as harvesting it, to carry it in the hand was the same as bearing a load, and to do these on the seventh day of the week was breaking the Sabbath. These were rules, not given by God, but made by the scribes; and Jesus had already taught his disciples to pay no attention to them.

The Pharisees were constantly watching Jesus and his followers, to catch them, if possible, in doing or saying something that might be thought wrong. They said to Jesus:

"Do you see that your disciples are doing what is forbidden on the Sabbath day; picking the ears of corn, carrying handfuls of them and rubbing them in their hands?"

"Have you never read," answered Jesus, "what David did when he was fleeing from King Saul; how he went into the house of God and took away the holy bread, laid on the table as an offering to God, which was to be eaten by the priests only; ate it himself and gave it to the men that were with him? And do you not know that the priests in the Temple do all kinds of work, killing animals for the offering, placing wood on the altar and many other things; yet they do right, for these things are necessary, and whatever is needful may be done on God's holy day. The Sabbath was made for the good of man and not man for the Sabbath. I tell you that One greater than the Temple is here, for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."