Luke 6: 1-11 (ESV)
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.”
On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
The seventh day of the Jewish week was to be a day of rest. This was ordered because in six days God created the world and on the seventh day (our Saturday) He rested. The Pharisees took this very seriously and had added many sub-clauses in their attempt to be super-holy. Jesus must have known that he would get the Pharisees attention, when he and his group broke a sub-clause to the command given in the ten commandments. No work in this clause meant you could not run the grain in your hands to get the husks off for a bit of food. The food should have been fully prepared previously. Interesting is the fact that Jesus quoted their great hero David doing something when fleeing which was forbidden. In that instance they are prepared to forgive David – their hero. Jesus sums up by using a name for himself that they would have understood to be a claim to him being the Messiah and claimed to be above their Sabbath laws. I’m surprised that the issue finishes there as he has taken them face on.
At any rate we skip to another Sabbath and Luke succinctly describes the tensions in the room when Jesus the healer sees someone who needs his touch, but to heal the man would break another of their sub-clauses. Nevertheless he healed the man with the arm and his opposition begin to discuss how to get rid of this troublesome (to them) pseudo- Messiah. But he cracks a sharp verbal blow to their uncaring hardness by asking ‘is it lawful to do good or harm?’ Opposition is aroused that will ultimately lead to murder.
Prayer: Set me free please to have your understanding of right and wrong.