Sunday, January 23

The 'Jesus the Logician' Project: Luke 6:1-5

This post is part of The 'Jesus the Logician' Project, which is an effort by Joe Carter of The Evangelical Outpost to compile a "comprehensive database outlining the ways in which Jesus used logic in his discourses." (For more details, follow the link given.)

In this passage (and in it's parallel found in Matthew 12:1-8), Jesus and his disciples are walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples are hungry, so they pick some of the heads of grain and eat them. A group of Pharisees see this and object to it:
Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.
The Talmud considers reaping and grinding grain as small in size as a dried fig to be breaking the Sabbath, so the disciples were clearly going against the regulations found there.

Jesus responds with another a fortiori argument, like he did in the other Sabbath argument found in Luke 13, but the specifics of this particular argument are different.
And Jesus answered them, "Have you not 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 bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?"
Jesus calls attention to an action of David that was a technical breach of the law. The bread of the Presence was only to be eaten by the priests (Leviticus 24:5-9), but the need of David's band overrode this rule, and it was accepted that it was permissible for David to have done this. Jesus argues that the same principle that permitted David's breach of the law--that human need is not to be subjugated to legalities--would also permit his disciples' breach of the legalities of the Talmud, since their breach was an obviously lesser sort of breach than David's.

Then Jesus strengthens his argument with this statement:
The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.
The term "Son of Man" is probably a reference to his Messianic role. Following, as it does, his reference to David and what David did, it may be that Jesus is arguing that as the promised Son of David, he carried even more authority than David: the authority of one who is boss of the Sabbath. If David could override the law and not be culpable for it, then the even greater Son of David could certainly do the same.

[Here is the Main Index to this project, where you will find all the contributions.]
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