(1) And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. (2) And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?Luke 6:1-2
There is a horrifying verse in this passage. It is one of the scariest verses that we’ve looked at so far, when you understand who he is talking about. The verse is at the end of this week’s text in verse 11.
(11) And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.Luke 6:11
The “they” in this passage are the pharisees. The word “madness” here comes from a word that speaks to both foolishness and rage. It is the kind of anger that makes one do stupid things. The effect of their rage here was to commune with each other about how they could end the ministry of Jesus.
What you need to know about the pharisees and scribes is that in their mind they were completely dedicated God. They spent their entire lives in pursuit of their version of good works. Everyone in that culture would have looked at these men and thought “Wow! They are so dedicated to God.” These pharisees would have seen themselves as completely dedicated to the scriptures. They had whole books of the Bible memorized.
Scribes had systems of behavior related to how they copied the scripture. They would not write out the name of God. They had ceremonial washings every time they came to God’s name as they wrote.
Their own evidence of their dedication to God would have been highly associated in how they lived out the sabbath day. They had hundreds of pages of teaching on what it meant to not work on the sabbath. If you spit on the ground that was work. If you moved a stick in the dirt that was plowing. You could only go a certain number of steps from your home, but if you placed food that number of steps away, it was as if your home was extended to that place so you could go that many steps more from the food. You could carry no more on your person than the weight of half of a fig. To carry more would be work.
Yet, with all of their discipline and desire to try to work towards heaven they completely missed out on what God was doing. When God showed up, they were at odds with Him. Imagine thinking that you are as dedicated as possible to God, and then someone telling you that all of your effort and dedication are not making you right with God. You are at odds with God. Imagine hearing that all your effort to help people be right with God are actually leading people astray.
The Old Testament reveals the righteousness of God and our falling short of His will. It also points to God’s plan of redemption that He would execute to redeem fallen man to Himself. These guys had gotten to the place where they were more committed to their interpretation of the scriptures than what scriptures actually said. They were so committed to their religion that they missed out on what God was doing.
So when Jesus shows up and tells them that they are wrong, they do not take it very well. Here is something very scary: You can be very sincere, and very wrong. You can be religiously dedicated, and spiritually dead. It is possible to miss out on what God is doing.
How do you miss out on what God is doing? How do you miss out on Jesus?
This week we are going to see how you can miss out on what God is doing in 3 ways.
Here are three ways to miss out on Jesus.
1. Disregard His Authority. (vs. 1-5)
And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.Luke 6:1
In these weeks passage the word sabbath shows up 6 times. The question of what is lawful comes up three times. Luke is bringing these circumstances up not just chronologically but also topically.
When you read through this part of Luke, Jesus starts out being widely and warmly accepted.
(14) And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. (15) And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.Luke 4:14-15
But as you walk through the following verses you find that over and over again Jesus is being rejected because of His claim to deity. In 4:16-30, He claims to be the Messiah to His own hometown and they so reject His message that they take Him out of the synagogue with intention to throw Him off of a cliff.
In chapter 5, as we studied last week, Jesus heals the paralytic man claiming to have the power of God to forgive sins because He was the “Son of Man”, the title of the Messiah who will rule over the nations. The pharisees and scribes, who were there from Jerusalem to watch Jesus, did not like this claim to deity and did not see Jesus as the Messiah, nor did they see Him as God.
At the end of Chapter 5 you see Jesus saying that new garments cannot patch old garments, and new wine cannot be put into old bottles. He was essentially saying that the theology that was being purported by Judaism in that day was antithetical to the truth. We now see that illustrated in our passage.
Here Jesus is walking through corn fields with His disciples. There was provision made in the Old Testament for people to pluck an ear of corn to eat it even if it was not your land. You could not go reap corn from His field with a sickle, but if you wanted an ear to eat it was not wrong to take it. The disciples knew this well and so they picked the corn.
When it says that they were “rubbing them in their hands”. This is what you do to shuck the corn and to get corn off of the cob.
The Pharisees seem to always be around. Look at their question:
(2) And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?Luke 6:2
What is assumed in that question? They assume that plucking corn and rubbing it was work. They saw the plucking as harvesting, and the rubbing as threshing. One commentary said this:
“The sabbath tradition of the Mishna is known as “the forty save one,” because there are thirty-nine specific, different tasks prohibited in this list (Lohse  pp. 12-13). According to these rules, the disciples’ actions would have been a quadruple violation! They had reaped, threshed, winnowed and prepared food. Even some Jews were aware of the burdensomeness of this tradition. In the Mishna, Ḥagiga 1:8 reads, ‘The rules about the Sabbath . . . are as mountains hanging by a hair, for Scripture is scanty and the rules many.’ “The Inter Varsity Press New Testament Commentary
The pharisees assume in their question that their law was God’s law, when it was not. What do I mean? What did God actually say about sabbath?
(8) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (9) Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: (10) But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: (11) For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
(14) Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.(15) Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
(2) Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.
(12) Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. (13) Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: (14) But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. (15) And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
The teaching and command of the sabbath was simply “do not work”. There is some definition of what that looked like, but not much. The sabbath was a gift to man kind. Part of the curse was toil in work. God had told Adam that He would eat from the sweat of his brow. See this in Genesis 3.
(17) And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (18) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; (19) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Work itself was not the curse, but toil in work. God rested in creation week, and He commanded His people to rest from their labors.
But the pharisees had, in their religious system, defined what it meant to obey the sabbath beyond what the scripture said. So, what the pharisees were asking was really, “Why are you not submitting to our interpretation of the rules about the sabbath?”
Think about it. They looked at the Creator of the World, the Author of Scripture, who had been made flesh to come and die so that they could be forgiven of their sin, and they said to him, essentially, ‘Why aren’t you submitting to us?’ Why are you so sinful? Why are you teaching your disciples to be so sinful? You are not God. They were saying in effect, you are not the authority on what the Bible says, and how the Bible should be applied. We are!
It is dangerous to deny what scripture says, but it is also dangerous to add to what scripture says. When we disobey what scripture says, or add to what scripture says, we are denying the authority of God. When we deny his authority, we will miss out on what He wants to do in our lives.
How do we deny God’s authority?
When we make rules for others out of application of scripture that are not explicit, we deny the authority of scripture.
When we live in disobedience to what scripture says we will miss out on what God wants to do in our lives.
Are you being disobedient to what the scriptures say in some area of your life? Repent!