LORD OF THE SABBATH
Luke 6:1-5 And it came to pass on the second Sabbath after the first, that He went through the cornfields; and His disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days? And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the showbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? And He said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath. (Also see Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28)
Although both Matthew and Mark also record this event, Luke is used as the lesson text because it helps to identify the time in which it occurred. Luke says that it came to pass on the second Sabbath after the first, while the other two gospels refer to this event as occurring only on a Sabbath day. The Day of Pentecost always occurred on the fiftieth day after the first day of Passover, which began on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan, or Abib. Although there is some disagreement by biblical scholars in this reckoning, the Sabbath day following the Day of Pentecost was referred to as the second Sabbath after the first. Because of this accounting, many of those that have given much study to this chronology think that the fifth chapter of John took place in Jerusalem during the second Passover that Jesus observed during His earthly ministry. That being the case, the event referred to in the lesson text occurred on the second Sabbath after this feast. Therefore, Jesus and His disciples had returned from Jerusalem and were again back in Galilee.
And on this Sabbath day, Jesus and His disciples were traveling through the cornfields, and His disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. It should be noted here that the word translated "corn" is not the grain known in America as maize. Rather it was wheat, barley, or some other edible grain that was found, at that time, in the countries of Palestine, Syria, Egypt, etc. By rubbing the grain heads in their hands, they separated the grain the from the outer husk or chaff, and then the grain could be eaten. Again the misunderstanding of God's law of the Sabbath by the Pharisees brought this accusation in the form of a question: Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days? Plucking and eating grain by a passerby from a field on a pathway was not unlawful (See Deut. 23:25). However, by Jewish traditions the plucking of grain on this holy day was considered to be servile labor and contrary to the Mosaic Law.
The disciples of Christ, accused, by the Pharisees of defiling the Sabbath by picking grain to be eaten, were immediately defended by Jesus. Where there was nothing to eat, obtaining the grain was a necessity, which Jesus justified with an Old Testament example. He answered these accusing Jews with this question: Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the showbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? This example is recorded in 1 Samuel 21:3-6. There we find that David, and his army, fleeing from Saul's devious plans and coming to Ahimelech the priest asking for bread to feed himself and his followers. The priest told David that there was no common bread available, only hallowed bread, or showbread, which was to be eaten only by the priests. With no other bread available, the fact that David asked for, and was given, the hollowed bread to eat proves that where there was necessity, the Law of Moses is not binding. Only in Matthew do we find another example of an exception to the Mosaic Law. Exodus 35:3 states that no fires are to be kindled on the Sabbath, yet it was necessary for the priests to offer two lambs as a burnt offering every Sabbath day (Num. 28:9-10). Jesus says that in this case, the priests, while making burnt offerings in the temple, violate the Sabbath, yet they are blameless.
Jesus continues by saying that in this place is one greater than the temple. Here, Jesus, as the Son of God, proclaims that His judgments are superior to those of the Law of Moses, claiming Himself to be greater than the temple (See Matt. 12:5-6). To this, the Gospel, as recorded by Mark, tells us that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Although the Sabbath was to be observed and obeyed by the Jews, it was never intended to bring pain and suffering. Where men and women, in order to comfort and sustain life, need compassionate love and kindness, the law of the Sabbath is not binding, because the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.