3RD SEPTEMBER 2022
1st Corinthians 4:6-13
Our Gospel passage presents Jesus in a controversy with the Pharisees over the Sabbath.The source of the controversy is that the disciples were “harvesting” on the Sabbath. His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands: There was nothing wrong with what they did. Their gleaning was not considered stealing, according to the provision for the poor of the land given in Deuteronomy 23:25.
Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath? The problem was with the day on which they did it. The Rabbis made an elaborate list of “do” and “don’t” items relevant to the Sabbath and this violated one of the items on this list.
When the disciples did what they did, in the eyes of the religious leaders they were guilty of reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food. There were therefore four violations of the Sabbath in one mouthful.
This view of the Sabbath is common even today among Orthodox Jews. In early 1992, tenants let three apartments in an Orthodox neighborhood in Israel burn to the ground while they asked a rabbi whether a telephone call to the fire department on the Sabbath would violate Jewish law. Observant Jews are forbidden to use the phone on the Sabbath, because doing so would break an electrical current, which is considered a form of work. In the half-hour it took the rabbi to decide “yes,” the fire spread to two neighboring apartments.
At the time of Jesus were many rabbis who filled Judaism with elaborate rituals related to the Sabbath and observance of other laws. Ancient rabbis taught that on the Sabbath one was forbidden to tie a knot – except a woman could tie a knot in her girdle. So, if a bucket of water had to be raised from a well, one could not tie a rope to the bucket, but a woman could tie her girdle to the bucket and then to the rope.
Jesus responds to the accusation with two important principles.
a. Human need is more important/crucial than observance of religious rituals.
Any application of the Sabbath Law which operates to the detriment of man is out of harmony with God’s purpose.
For showing their ignorance of a very basic scriptural principle Jesus asked them a deriding question:
"Have you not even read this" was a not-so-subtle rebuke to the religious leaders (the Pharisees of Luke 6:2) who were confident in their knowledge of the Scriptures. This had the effect of Jesus questioning whether or not they ever read or understood their Bibles; He implied that they were ignorant of the essential point of the following Old Testament event.
b. The core of religion is love of God and of neighbor.
Barclay, a n Anglican Bible scholar states: "It is possible to read scripture meticulously, to know the Bible inside out from cover to cover, to be able to quote it verbatim and to pass any examination on it – and yet completely miss its real meaning.”
This is exactly what many people, steeped in tradition, simply cannot accept.They don’t believe that what God really wants is mercy before sacrifice (Hosea 6:6).
· They don’t believe that love to others is more important than religious rituals (Isaiah 58:1-9).
· They don’t believe that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart; these, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:17).