Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
Thesis: The Lord of the Sabbath rules with respect for His creation.
Introduction: When Luke set out to tell his reader(s) why Jesus was rejected by "official" Israel, he intended to reveal the real issues. We have already seen that one of those "real" issues was Jesus' claim to have the authority to exercise divine prerogatives. Now, "divine prerogatives" are rights that only God has. In the purest sense, "divine prerogatives" are not rights that God can permit non-gods to exercise. The Pharisees understood that. That is why they said, "Who is this that speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Luke 5:21, ASV). This did not mean that the Pharisees would not have acknowledged that men are often called upon to "forgive" one another. It simply meant that there are certain "final" actions that only God can take. To declare that a man's sins are forgiven is not the same thing as one human being telling another human being, "I forgive you", because of some evil that the forgiven has done to the one forgiving. What Jesus intended for the man to understand, and what the Pharisees clearly understood, was that God had erased the man's sins from the one-on-one, God/man relationship. This was nothing, more or less, than Jesus taking ownership of the God/men relationship issue. It was for this reason that Jesus was rejected. The rejectors simply did not believe that He was "God" over this most crucial issue.
In the paragraph before us this morning, we find Jesus taking ownership of the Sabbath. This was a second, and extremely crucial, declaration to the nation that they were dealing with their God. The Sabbath was the key issue of "loyalty to God". The Pharisees knew, and taught, that God had chosen the Sabbath to be the "sign of loyalty". Thus, anyone who claimed the right to declare what "observing the Sabbath" really meant was "messing with" the issue of the God/man relationship. There is no relationship where there is no loyalty. Relationships live and die on this basis. The Pharisees knew that Jesus was claiming ownership of the Sabbath. It was for this reason that Jesus was rejected. The rejectors simply did not believe that Jesus was "Lord" of the Sabbath.
There is a reason that the rejectors did not believe that Jesus was the "God" over the God/men relationship, or that He was the "Lord" over the loyalty issue that governed that relationship. This morning we are going to look into that reason.
August 26, 2007
- I. The Central Question.
- A. Does not concern whether there is such a thing as a God/man relationship; this is a given.
- 1. This question is the question of whether "religion" has anything to it.
- a. Is there a God?
- b. If there is, does He exercise any real relational participation with His creation?
- 2. This question had already been given an answer by the facts of Jewish history.
- B. Does not concern whether loyalty is an inescapable aspect of this relationship; this also is a given.
- 1. This is the question of the nature of relationships.
- a. Are relationships merely the inescapable reality of people's overlapping experience?
- b. Are relationships a deliberate sharing of Life?
- c. This question had already been given an answer by the central thesis of the Jewish covenant with the relational God: Life exists and God is willing to share it.
- 2. But this is also the question of the central requirements for a God/man relationship.
- a. What is the bottom line in the sharing of Life?
- b. The bottom line is encapsulated by the word "loyalty".
- 1) Loyalty means we are in agreement about what is important.
- 2) Loyalty means we are in agreement about what is true.
- 3) Loyalty means we are committed to each other in the true pursuit of what is important.
- C. Does concern who is the final arbiter of values and beliefs.
- 1. There can be no real relationship between persons who hold different final values.
- 2. There can be no real relationship between persons who define truth with different final definitions.
- 3. Thus, there is nothing more crucial than the answer to this question: Who is Lord of the Sabbath?
- a. Clearly, the "Lord" defines values.
- b. Clearly, the "Lord" declares truth.
- c. Clearly, the "Lord of the Loyalty Issue" is Lord over all.
- II. The Opposing Answers.
- A. The Pharisees did not simply "object" to Jesus being the Lord of the Sabbath.
- 1. Objections always have roots.
- a. The major root to every objection to anything is always the same: What is valuable, or What do I want?
- b. The sub-root to every objection to anything is, likewise, always the same: How do I get it?
- 2. The Pharisees' roots were in their personal theology.
- a. The Pharisees had already drunk deeply from the well of delusion.
- 1) They believed, at the core of their being, that "Life" was the ultimate value.
- 2) They believed, at the core of their being, that "Life" was fundamentally obtained by gaining the respect of others.
- 3) They believed, at the core of their being, that "obtaining the respect of others" was fundamentally accomplished by being "better" at something than those others who made up their circle of associations.
- 4) And they believed, at the core of their being, that "being better" involved being "more powerful" so that they could "force" their will upon others.
- b. The Pharisees' drink from the well of delusion had fundamentally defined "God".
- 1) This definition was not found in their actual words.
- a) Hypocrisy was a daily, continuous, fact where what they said with their mouths was regularly contradicted by what they actually did. [Examples abound.]
- b) Their actual thoughts about God had to be kept hidden because they were too explosively destructive in the realm they had chosen for their "superiority".
- 2) This definition had its real identity in the way they treated others.
- a) They believed that God was a grasping controller Who was to be resisted at all costs.
- b) They believed that God's "Life" consisted of the "feeling" that comes from having everyone "fawning over Him" and "giving Him all the glory".
- B. Jesus did not simply "claim" to be Lord of the Sabbath.
- 1. Jesus' "claim" was not just some "option" set forth for debate.
- a. He was claiming to be the One Who defines the ultimate value and the guiding truth.
- b. He was not aiming to become "one of many" in the loyalties of men; He was seeking to be the only loyalty of men.
- c. The claim was that "Life" is not fundamentally obtained by independence but by harmonious cooperation.
- 2. Jesus' presentation of Himself as deity was a fundamental definition of "God".
- a. He was claiming to be the Ultimate Controller.
- b. He was claiming that the essence of deity was the kind of "Love" that gives the very loyalty that is required to be given.
- III. The "Violation" of the Law by David and Abimelech.
- A. At issue was the difference between the letter and the spirit of the Law.
- B. David was not merely "hungry"; his flight from Saul had pushed him to the limits of his physical endurance.
- C. The Law of the Showbread had two aspects.
- 1. It was designed to maintain a level of respect for God by men that is necessary in every real relationship between God and men.
- 2. It was designed to provide for the priests who had no inheritance in the land as a demonstration of the respect God has for men.
- a. The demand for respect was also a declaration of respect: no relationship exists as a one way street.
- b. The intent to provide for the priests was God's way of showing them that He was their provider while they served His plan for the tabernacle.
- D. The so-called "violation" by David and Abimelech was a "wrinkle" in the norm where, because David's need was real, the provision for the priest (which was abundant) was available to be shared because there was no danger that the respect/provision issues would be damaged.
- E. Bottom Line: God is committed to serving His creation by teaching it how to serve.
- 1. There is no place in the Kingdom of God for prima donnas.
- 2. There is enormous Life in the Kingdom of God for servants.