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Plucking Grain on the Sabbath

Plucking Grain on the Sabbath

MATTHEW 12:1-8 MARK 2:23-28 LUKE 6:1-5



Jesus and his disciples now travel northward toward Galilee. It is springtime, and in the fields there is grain on the stalks. Being hungry, the disciples pluck some heads of grain and eat. But the day is a Sabbath, and the Pharisees observe what they are doing.

Recall that recently certain Jews in Jerusalem wanted to kill Jesus, accusing him of violating the Sabbath. Now the Pharisees bring an accusation based on the disciples’ actions. “Look! Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”​—Matthew 12:2.

The Pharisees claim that picking grain and rubbing it in the hands to eat is harvesting and threshing. (Exodus 34:21) Their strict interpretation of what constitutes work makes the Sabbath burdensome, whereas it was originally meant to be a joyous, spiritually upbuilding day. Jesus counters their wrong view with examples to show that Jehovah God never meant for His Sabbath law to be applied that way.

One example Jesus gives is that of David and his men. When they were hungry, they stopped at the tabernacle and ate the loaves of presentation. Those loaves, which had already been removed from before Jehovah and replaced by fresh ones, were ordinarily reserved for the priests to eat. Yet, under the circumstances, David and his men were not condemned for eating them.​—Leviticus 24:5-9; 1 Samuel 21:1-6.

As a second example, Jesus says: “Have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbaths the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath and continue guiltless?” What he means is that even on the Sabbath, the priests slaughter animals for sacrifice and do other work at the temple. “But I tell you,” Jesus says, “that something greater than the temple is here.”​—Matthew 12:5, 6; Numbers 28:9.

Jesus again draws on the Scriptures to make his point: “If you had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless ones.” He concludes: “For the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus is referring to his coming peaceful Kingdom rule of a thousand years.​—Matthew 12:7, 8; Hosea 6:6.

Humankind has long been suffering laborious enslavement by Satan, with violence and war abounding. What a contrast it will be under the great Sabbath rule of Christ, who will provide the time of rest we long for and need!