Sabbath · Traditions

Jesus on the Sabbath – Part 1 – Rubbing Grain

jesus-the-grain-fieldRecently I penned a series of post on the Ten Commandments and as I was writing it, found that the Sabbath day was the only commandment not reapplied  to believers in the New Testament.

In writing that series of posts, I was reminded that the Sabbath day was one of the main irritants between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees.

Let’s start considering the topic of Sabbath keeping in relation to Christians by reviewing Matthew 12:1-8, where Jesus addresses the Pharisees about eating some grain.

Yep that is right – they got into “it” over His disciples rubbing and eating a handful of grain!

Matthew 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.

GrainOn a Sabbath day, Jesus and His disciples were traveling through some grain fields.  It seems a bit strange that grown men walk through grain fields, but in this case, it may have been to extract a bit of sustenance.  You see, in ancient Israel, it was perfectly legal for standing fields of grain to be a local snack station.

Check out Deuteronomy 23:25

Deuteronomy 23:25 If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.

You can’t harvest any of your neighbors grain for the year of course, but a snack for the day was perfectly legal and acceptable.  For Jesus and His disciples, it was snack time, since His disciples were hungry.  (Christians can suffer hunger? – You bet!)

Matthew 12: 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”

What were the disciples doing that was so unlawful? Kindly remember that the Pharisees had set up volumes of traditions over centuries of studying, intending to protect the law of God. 

In my research, I found a “rule” that the Pharisees may be referring to.

“he that reaps on the Sabbath day, ever so little, is guilty of stoning, and plucking of ear of grain is a derivative of reaping.”

The Pharisees may be appealing to this authority.  They could stone (capital punishment) someone for rubbing grains of wheat in their hand.  Wow – is there not something wrong with this thinking?

The Pharisees follow their Judaism based on the authority of the elders traditions.  The Lord also bases His response on authority.

He brings “authority” to them in three arguments, or rebuttals.  Three rebuttals that will follow in our following posts.

Hope you can return as we Consider the Bible and how we are to relate to the Sabbath.


Follow Considering the Bible on

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.