When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath." (Matthew 12:2 NRSV)
Jesus and his disciples are walking through grain fields on the Sabbath. The disciples were hungry. Their instinct was to pluck some grain. A ruckus ensued. The Pharisees had rules about such things. "Foul!" they cried to Jesus. "Did you see that? They broke the rules! Why are you allowing them to do what is not lawful on the Sabbath? For all to be right in the world of Jewish religious observance, you must command them to cease and desist from this illegal activity."

One can imagine the highest ranking Pharisee present filing a complaint to the JPA (Jewish Pharisee's Association). "We have rules about such things as this. We must insist that those rules be followed. Exactly. By the book. Precisely. We strenuously object to this man's disciples violating our rules regarding Sabbath observance. Fundamentally yours, the Pharisees."

To all this legalistic jabber Jesus replied, "The Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath." Thus Jesus succeeded in elevating human compassion over petty rules.

Lord Jesus, fill my heart with compassion, and empty it of my pettiness. Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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