The Naked Man – pt. 24

Grain-field

“On one occasion when Jesus was passing through grainfields on the sabbath, his disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. And the pharisees said to Jesus, ‘See here, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’” Mark regarded the loaf in his hands, and then looked up at the gateway through which Benyamin had passed. “I believe my brother to be a wise, devout and holy man. He loves our people, and he loves our G_d. He does not accept Jesus as Messiah, and he rejects the Way, but he serves G_d in faith. Others among his peers, unlike Benyamin, act as self-appointed guardians of public morality, and men like that had marked Jesus as one worthy of their attention. They understood the implicit claims he was making, and were concerned about his growing popularity and influence with the inhabitants of Galilee. And so they kept a watchful eye on Jesus and his disciples, to see if they were loyal, Torah-observant Jews. When they saw his disciples bending down to strip the grain from the stalks that bent under their feet as they walked through the field, they were indignant, and confronted Jesus.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and became hungry, he and his companions: how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he gave it also to those who were with him?’”

Yiftach burst out laughing. “I imagine those Torah scholars’ noses got a little bent out of shape at that! ‘Have you never read?’ Ha! And then talking as if they needed the law explained to them!” “Indeed,” responded Mark. “But Jesus’ response was much more than a sarcastic defense of his disciples’ actions. Would you not agree, my friend?” Mark turned to Simeon. Simeon nodded thoughtfully.

“Yes,” responded Simeon. He turned to address the gathering. “In comparing himself to David, Jesus was making a pretty striking claim as to his identity. At the time of this incident in David’s life, he had been anointed as king by Samuel, but was on the run from king Saul, who was still on the throne. In the meantime, David was attracting followers, waiting for his time to come. Jesus is implying that he has been anointed as Israel’s king – at his baptism – but has not yet been recognized as such and enthroned. And just as David had a right to commandeer bread for his hungry followers, so Jesus could do the same for his hungry disciples. This deliberate act of sabbath-breaking was a sign that the Kingdom of God had burst into the old order, for here is the King like David.”

Simeon turned back to Mark, who indicated his appreciation of Simeon’s words with a nod. As Mark reached down for his cup, he muttered, “And David himself calls him ‘Lord’…” before taking a drink. He caught Yiftach’s eye as he continued. “The Pharisees have made the sabbath burdensome for many people. Well-meaning or not, the Pharisees have constricted the gift of rest that G_d proscribed for us. Jesus often confronted the Pharisees for this. And how often did he say to us, ‘The sabbath was made for people; people were not made for the sabbath.’ Messiah – the one the prophet Daniel called the Son of Man – has authority over any and all institutions that repress human beings. And in the new day that was dawning with the arrival of God’s Kingdom, even Torah itself would be seen in a new light. And so we came to understand that the Son of Man is Lord, even of the sabbath. Of which we will hear more when we gather tomorrow evening…”

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