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.


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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.

3 thoughts on “Jesus on the Sabbath – Part 1 – Rubbing Grain

  1. Cory. Hope all is good for you this fine Saturday morning.

    I understand that all of the commands of the decalogue are subservient to the One who gave them.

    When He came to earth, He often reinterpreted the application of these commandments. Dont kill became love your neighbor etc.

    As we go through this series I hope you will notice that He has the authority over each command, and His (along with His apotles) teaching on the commands is our guidance for NT life.

    I haven’t found a prescriptive NT verse telling believers to keep a 24 hr period more sacred than others. I have found in Roman’s the freedom to elevate one day above another, but I personally see each day as to the Lord.

    A bit of a rambling answer. I think the next few posts in the series may provide some more information for you to consider.

    Thanks for reaching out, eh?!

    Have a blessed day!


  2. I am interested to know why you would say that the Sabbath command is not re-applied to the NT believers? I can totally agree that the Sabbath was a main point of controversy. Would you say that Jesus never kept the Sabbath according to the ten commandments?

    I think the leaders made up laws that kept them from actually keeping the Sabbath (as well as other commandments) as it was meant to be kept. Jesus came to show how to keep the law and what the law meant. To do good on the Sabbath was one of the best ways to keep the Sabbath and bring glory to God. According to the man-made laws, this was a violation

    I don’t think many Christians would say that the commands of not murdering, stealing, adultery, etc. are no longer applicable anymore. Why would the Sabbath command be any different. I am just curious to get your point of view on this.

    God Bless


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