Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 6:5
“And He was saying to them, The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5
Starting in verse one we read, “Now it came about that on a certain Sabbath He was passing through some grainfields; and His disciples were picking and eating the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands.” Luke 6:1.
This is interesting because the picking of grain from someone else’s field was permitted according to the Law. “When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket. When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.” Deuteronomy 23:24-25. Therefore, the issue was not picking the grain but doing so on the Sabbath, as the next verse makes clear. “But some of the Pharisees said, why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Luke 6:2. Note that they were accusing Jesus and not His disciples, because they said, “why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”.
Jesus then answers their question. “Have you not even 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 consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?” Luke 6:3-4. Luke’s use of the verbal form “answering said” indicates that Jesus assumed the responsibility of his disciples’ behavior in answering the criticism of the previous verse. Jesus recalled an event in David’s life when due to hunger he and his men ate the consecrated sanctuary bread, the bread of the presence. The account in 1 Samuel 21:1–6 does not mention that this took place on a Sabbath, but the issue was not so much the day or the need but Jesus’ authority, which extends over even the Sabbath. If David was free of the restraints of the law on that occasion, how much more is the Son of Man.
And now to our focus verse. “And He was saying to them, The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5. By what authority does Jesus violate the prohibition or order of Sabbath convention and presume to redefine it? The answer is given in the pronouncement of our focus verse. True lordship over Sabbath is invested in the Son of Man. If, as we have seen in Genesis, Sabbath was grounded in creation and was the most distinctive characteristic in Judaism, it is inconceivable that Jesus or any other rabbi would declare human supremacy over it. It is not given to a mere human to supersede an order of creation. This can only be done by God Himself, the one who instituted the Sabbath. “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3.
God instituted the Sabbath, and Jesus expressly claims preeminence over Sabbath! We read what the Sabbath is and how it is to be observed in Exodus. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11. The purpose of the Sabbath, as originally intended by God, cannot be understood by Moses, and especially not by the rabbinic tradition subsequent to Moses, but only by Jesus, the Son of Man and ultimately the Lord of the Sabbath.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.