This blog provides a meditation on the Reformed Churches daily readings along with a headline from world news:
Devastating earthquake in Sichuan
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
Jesus speaks of the Sabbath—
6 1-2 One Sabbath day, as Jesus happened to be passing through the cornfields, his disciples began picking the ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some of the Pharisees remarked, “Why are you doing what the Law forbids men to do on the Sabbath day?”
3-4 Jesus answered them and said, “Have you never read what David and his companions did when they were hungry? How he went into the house of God, took the presentation loaves, ate some bread himself and gave some to his companions, even though the Law does not permit anyone except the priests to eat it?”
5 Then he added, “The Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath.”
—and provokes violent antagonism
6-8 On another Sabbath day when he went into a synagogue to teach, there was a man there whose right hand was wasted away. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Jesus closely to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath day, which would, of course, give them grounds for an accusation. But he knew exactly what was going on in their minds, and said to the man with the wasted hand, “Stand up and come out in front.”
9 And he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I am going to ask you a question. Does the Law command us to do good on Sabbath days or do harm—to save life or destroy it?”
The modern reader has to understand that it was not the eating that was wrong in the eyes of the religious leaders but the
10-11 He looked round, meeting all their eyes, and said to the man, “Now stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored as sound as the other one. But they were filled with insane fury, and kept discussing with each other what they could do to Jesus.
The modern reader has to understand that eating is OK on the Sabbath but preparation of food (rubbing corn in your hands!) is not. Clearly this interpretation of the Sabbath law is loony tunes. Jesus makes matters worse by quoting the lawless behaviour of the great king David, and by his comment that the “Son of Man” (an expression which means “the saints of God’s kingdom”) has authority over the interpretation of the Sabbath commandment.
In the second incident the leaders think that Jesus is working by exercising his healing skill on the Sabbath. Jesus proposes a principle, “It’s lawful to do good on the Sabbath” and makes a veiled accusation, “It’s wrong to do evil such as trying to destroy a life.”
The reaction of the leaders as depicted by Luke is very telling: they are filled with “insane fury”. This is what happens when religion becomes more important than God and human beings. It is evident in the resposnse of fundamentalits Christians to homosexual equality, in Islamic witch hunts against women who stand up for their rights; and in the rage of the Russian Orthodox Church against anything that challenges its prejudices.
In comparison with these crazies, Jesus is calmly focused on God’s concern for the good of his human creatures.