23 One Sabbath day Jesus was walking with his disciples through the grainfields. The disciples began to break off some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look! It is against the Law to do this on the Sabbath day. Why are your disciples doing it?” 25 He answered, “Haven’t you ever read about what David did? He and his men were hungry. They needed food. 26 It was when Abiathar was high priest. David entered the house of God and ate the holy bread. Only priests were allowed to eat it. David also gave some to his men.” 27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath day was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath day. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.”
When I have read this passage in the past, I had pictured a group of middle aged men, wandering through the countryside on foot, whimsically pulling off a head of grain as they followed their leader wherever he may go.
But today I thought about this passage.
I asked some questions I had never asked myself before – why would they pull off heads of grain on a Sabbath? Why are they not accused of stealing? What does their action have to do with David eating the bread of the Presence in verse 26?
When I looked at all this, I realised that the answer to all these questions is because they were starving hungry! In Jewish law, people who were poor and hungry were allowed to glean from the corners of a field to ensure they didn’t starve. David’s men were forced into the situation where they had to eat the forbidden bread because they were in dire need of food.
In the gospel of Mark, it also appears that Jesus may not have even finished calling all his 12 disciples together at the time that this happened. I realised today afresh that Jesus’ followers have literally left EVERYTHING behind to follow him. Now they are dirt poor and hungry and the religious administration is criticising them!
Lord, help me be more like the disciples and truly, really, lay everything down as I follow you.
Also God, help me to be less like the religious administration of Christ’s day. Don’t let me enforce the wrong rules for people to the point where I am contrary to your heart.
Written by Ps Justin Ware