16th August 208

Reaping and Threshing, or Just Hungry?

“But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”
Matthew 12:7 (NKJV)

One day Jesus and his disciples were walking through some grain fields on the Sabbath. The disciples were hungry, so they plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands to get the husks off and ate them. But the Pharisees went ballistic and confronted Jesus, asking him, “why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” According to ‘their own law’ this was reaping and threshing! (Mark 2:23-28). But Jesus said, Wait a minute, Have you never read 1 Samuel 21? David and his men were running for their lives and were hungry. There was no ordinary food available, so in desperation they entered the tabernacle, took the Show Bread, which was for the priesthood only, and ate it. And God did not punish David or his men! The Pharisees had no reply. Jesus drew this conclusion for them; “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” His teaching, as opposed to that of the religious leaders, was that human need takes precedence over rules.

By the time of Jesus’ ministry the religious leaders had placed more than 1000 restrictions on the Sabbath. One of these restrictions held that you could spit on a rock on the Sabbath but if you spat on the ground that made mud. Mud can be used for mortar, so you were working on the Sabbath. Another time when he was teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath he encountered a lady who was bent over, who had been unable to straighten up for 18 years. Jesus set her free, untied her if you like and she stood up straight! But the leader of the synagogue was furious and told the congregation “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” It seems like in their eyes, this miraculous healing was also called work! But again, Jesus points out that each of them on the Sabbath will untie his ox or donkey and lead it to water, therefore “ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things he was doing (Luke 13:10-17).

What a tender and wonderful thought; mercy is a beautiful thing, let’s make it a big part of our lives –God delights in it!

Great Father, help us all to focus on mercy and not judgement, following the wise words and teaching of your Son, Jesus.

Study by Cliff Neill


About the Author:
Cliff Neill is an Elder in Grace Communion Church Luton.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
Farley Hill

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Harry Sullivan
Phone: 01908-582222
Email: harry_sullivan@wcg.org.uk

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