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e) The Disciples Pluck the Heads of Grain on the Sabbath
(Matthew 12:1-8)
1At 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.2And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”3But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:4how 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?5Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?6Yet I say to you that in this place there is one greater than the temple.7But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.8For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Exodus20:10, Leviticus24:9,1Samuel21:7, Hosea6:6, Mark2:23-28, Luke6:1-5)

Christ’s disciples felt hungry because they had no riches. They prayed to their Father, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and trusted God and His daily providence, believing that He would turn men’s hearts into streams of water.
As the disciples waited for God’s gifts, they began to pick the kernels of wheat because they were hungry. This is not considered stealing since the Old Testament law legally permitted the taking of what is necessary for food when one is hungry, but to collect it into containers is considered stealing. According to the New Testament, it is not considered appropriate to touch what belongs to others.
The Pharisees did not complain about the disciples plucking heads of grain, but for taking and rubbing them on the Sabbath day, which they considered as work. This was, according to their understanding, a violation of the Sabbath and was deserving death. Keeping the Sabbath day was one of the great symbols that connected them with their covenant with the Lord, who had separated them and preferred them to other peoples.
But Christ, in His prudence, explained to them, through the example of David and the priests, that the commandment to love God and men is greater than the commandment to keep the Sabbath. He compared His disciples with priests and kings, for those poor in spirit were, in fact, God’s spiritual kings and priests. They also belonged to the New Testament, the provisions of which are different from the old one. Thus Christ called Himself the Lord of the Sabbath, for He had brought a new law – the law of love. The heavenly lawgiver teaches us in this law that man is not justified by keeping the commandments, but only by the grace of the blood of the Lamb of God. Christ’s teachings consecrate us to serve with love and joy, even on the Sabbath. It is by love that we are sanctified.
The notable indication that Christians are not under the obligation of the law and its provisions, is their keeping Sunday instead of the Sabbath day. Sunday is the day on which Christ rose from His tomb conquering death. Sunday is the symbol of the divine life proclaimed in Christ’s resurrection. It is at the same time the instrument of our freedom from the Mosaic Law requirements. We know that we are not justified by keeping neither the Sabbath day nor Sunday, for cursed is he that seeks justification by law, but he who participates in Christ’s Spirit and life shall live and be sanctified every day and forever. It is not the days that are holy in Christianity, but the believers themselves. Christ does not sanctify times and seasons, but He sanctifies His followers that they may walk holy all the days of the week and not only on Saturday or Sunday.

Heavenly Father, we thank You from the bottom of our hearts for sanctifying us and freeing us from formal worship. Glory be to You for being with us every day in our work. You fill our hours with Your love. Help us to understand and to live in the power of Your Son’s resurrection in our lives that we may live in the way everlasting. Amen.
How is Christ the Lord of the Sabbath?