Monday

The Priests Profane the Sabbath.

It will be easy to misinterpret my thoughts here today. I’m going to challenge some of the favorite beliefs of the Pharisaical spirit of today. There are a number of statements that have often come in this context which I am not saying here: please don’t hear more than I’m saying. And I’m only describing one side of this debate. Feel free to add comments with another side if you like.

Yet again, the Pharisees were angry with Jesus and how much freedom He gave His boys.

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!" 3 But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." (Matthew 12)

This is a story about profanity, which is to say that it’s about some folks profaning what is sacred to someone else. It’s all about being offended in the name of God, and how Jesus deals with that.

  1. The boys offended the Pharisees because they broke – not God’s law – the Pharisees’ interpretation of God’s law.
  2. The Pharisees’ response ticks Jesus off. The text doesn’t say if He was angry, but He certainly does get confrontational in His response.
  3. Clearly, Jesus’ response offends the Pharisees. In fact, that seems to be part of His purpose here. Judging their response to His next miracle, He succeeded.
  4. His response describes how the priests profane the Sabbath that they serve, by obeying the very Law that the Pharisees are whining about.
  5. His bottom line is in the last verse: the focus here is not about keeping the rules, but about recognizing the True Authority when He walks among us.

But first and foremost, I see Jesus defending His boys, and I’m impressed yet again. When our people are attacked or accused, perhaps particularly when they’re attacked by a religious spirit, it is our place to defend them.

More important to today’s conversation is how Jesus handles the Word in His defense of His boys. He does refer to the Word, but He handles the Word it in a completely different manner from what I see among preachers and pastors and other Word-handlers today.

I’ve been taught that there are two basic ways to handle the Word today: Deductively, where I hold certain beliefs, and I go to the Word to find either teaching or examples that support my beliefs, and Inductively, where I come to the Word and sit under it in order to let it speak to me.

Jesus does neither. He takes a story of men running for their lives, of men acting in desperation. Apparently there is a third way to handle the Word: prophetically. The Spirit of God – whose job description includes guiding me into all truth – apparently thinks He has the authority to grab scripture out of context and bring fresh revelation from that.

Jesus, whom John says is the Word incarnate, uses that story – completely out of context, mind you – to confront well-established religious doctrine: principles that are pretty well beyond questioning. That’s a tough assignment already, but more than that, He actually expects them to understand the principles of the Kingdom based on that out-of-context story taken from the history books they teach others from.

A brief digression: I am not Jesus: I am not the Word incarnate, so I don’t have the same authority to wield His Word. I probably want to reserve the bulk my out-of-context revelation for personal conversation between myself and my Heavenly Lover. Certainly, I’ll need compare my newly-found revelation to the whole of scripture before releasing it publicly. And comparing my revelation to church history may guard me against some of history’s favorite heresies. Let’s not be stupid here.

But Jesus doesn’t stop there: the Son of God, the Word Incarnate, brings to their attention an example of the Word contradicting the Word. Nowadays, we run and hide from apparent contradictions in the Word, and as a result, the world thinks us shallow and ignorant; I’m not sure they’re wrong. Jesus seems to seek those apparent contradictions out, and He wields them as a bludgeon against the religious spirit of the Pharisees, while He teaches his boys spiritual principles they couldn’t learn from those religious leaders. He doesn’t explain the answer at all, so it looks like the question is more valuable than the answer.

So Jesus, who is my example, shows me several things in this story:

  • Defend your friends, even against religious leaders. (Note to self: “religious leaders” does not equal “spiritual leaders,” but that’s for another day.)
  • Let God speak from His word, even if what He’s saying is completely different from what your religious leaders have taught you. Don’t be the Pharisee. Don’t follow the Pharisees.
  • Don’t hide from contradictions and things hard to understand. God often has secrets hidden there. Asking the questions properly – and specifically not having all the answers – is often the right position.

Conclusion: we must obey God rather than men. We need to be in community in order to guard against heresy, but heresy is maybe not as much of a danger to the development of disciples who know the Holy Spirit as religious traditions may be.


Comments?

2 comments:

Paul said...
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McPilgrim said...
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