Jesus and His disciples are back together and continuing their ministering journey. We are not told where they were on their way from or to, but that they found themselves in a grain field one fine Saturday. I’m assuming they were walking along and it’s about midday. I did a little research on how far one could travel on the Sabbath day and Bible-History.com states it is a little over two miles.
When Matthew reports that they were hungry, I don’t know if it was an “in between meals” kind of hungry or an “I haven’t had anything to eat all day” kind of hungry. Whichever it was, they used the available food source to satiate it. According to the Sabbath laws they couldn’t cook any food or even stop by the store or restaurant to buy something to eat.
The Pharisees in this story have me a bit puzzled too. How did they come upon Jesus and His group? If they were observing the Sabbath laws, they would have been restricted to the limits too. How did these two groups cross paths in that distance? I may be missing something, but now days, we grow our crops outside the cities and the temples are located inside them. So these two groups shouldn’t have crossed path out in the middle of the grain field. Unless this particular group of Pharisees was assigned to follow Jesus everywhere He went, to try and catch Him in some infraction of the law. Definitely not beyond the realm of possibilities.
Jesus cared for the physical needs of His disciples. They didn’t have to go out and get jobs to support their missionary journey. Jesus and His disciples were probably fed by the people they ministered to, as His instructions regarding supplies from His disciples’ job description stated. But they were out in the middle of the grain field and not ministering to anyone in particular that day. So where was dinner supposed to come from. Jesus was also more than capable of feeding them with whatever they could find, IF they would have asked Him to. But they didn’t.
Andrew: “Peter, I’m hungry. How about you?”
Peter: “Yah, me too.”
Peter reaches his hand out and gently swings it through the stalks of grain as he continues walking. Andrew laughs as the heads of grain fly loose and hit Peter in the face and stick in his hair. Peter picks a few kernels off his cloak and put them in his mouth.
Peter: “Not bad. I think I’ll try a few more.”
Peter breaks a small handful of heads off their stalks. He asks Andrew to hold out his hand while he runs the head between his fingers to loosen the kernels. Peter and Andrew Pick the little kernels from Andrew’s hand and begin chewing on them. They are not a big meal but they are tasty and will give their stomachs something to work with.
Pharisee 1: “Hey! What are you doing there!”
Pharisee leader: “Hold up there Jesus. Do You see what YOUR disciples are doing!?! They are breaking the Law! What are You going to do about it?”
Jesus looks over at Peter and Andrew. Andrew looks like a deer caught in the headlights. Peter is scowling at the Pharisee. Jesus gives Andrew and Peter a little smirk then turns to face the Pharisee who is addressing Him. All the other Pharisees push in closer to be ready to lend weight to whatever their leader plans to do. This is after all a capital offense and an EXCELLENT opportunity to trap Jesus. Jesus’ disciples, except Peter and Andrew, move a bit closer to Him too. It appears the battle lines are drawn.
Jesus: “You are twisting everything up, as usual. I’m sure you remember the account of David; when he was given the consecrated bread by Ahimelech the priest for him and his men to eat. That was against “the Law” too, but God didn’t hold it against him. The priest himself gave it directly to David. How about the fact that the priests themselves break the Sabbath laws, yet they are held blameless. Someone better than the temple itself is here with you now. If you could understand that “I desire mercy not sacrifice” (verse 7) then you wouldn’t have accused My disciples who are guiltless.”
Jesus turns His back on the group of Pharisees and He and His disciples begin walking again. Andrew hands the rest of the grain to Peter, who pops it in his mouth. Peter looks back over his shoulder to find the leader of the group of Pharisees standing there glaring at Jesus’ back. Peter quickly turns his head back around and a small grin appears on his face.
Father God, thank You again that I am not living under the law! So many regulations about everything. I know I would be in trouble all the time. I am SO thankful for Your mercy! Thank You for standing up for Your disciples. This was a life and death matter for them. Exodus 31:14 states that anyone who profanes the Sabbath shall be put to death. You protected them yet again. The Pharisees were on a campaign to get You and Your disciples any way they could.
I would hate to have to be always on guard because someone is watching my every move to try and catch me in a trap. You didn’t let the traps or the constant observation keep You from Your work. I’m thinking a few of the “watchers” probably changed sides because of what they saw. We know Nicodemus did. Thank You for completing Your work in spite of all Satan threw in Your way. Thank You for putting it all down in Your word so we can see Your provision so clearly. Thanks for standing up for all of us who get ourselves in hot water by not thinking through all the possibilities of our actions.
Just for fun: Why don’t you tell jokes while in the garden?
Because the corn has ears, the potatoes have eyes, and the beanstalk.
(The Pharisees behavior reminded me of this joke.)