March 3, Tuesday
A week later on the Sabbath, Jesus and the disciples were walking through some fields and they picked a few heads of grain. After rubbing them in their hands to remove the chaff, they ate them. The Pharisees were right there accusing them of working on the Sabbath again. Jesus decided to give them a lesson on Sabbath-keeping.
“Have you read about the time when David and his men were famished, and the only food they could find was the showbread from the temple? Don’t you remember how Abiathar, the high priest, gave them some even though it was against the Law?
“How about the fact that every Saturday your own priests break the Sabbath just doing their jobs? God doesn’t hold that against them. You don’t understand the heart of God or you’d appreciate His preference for ‘mercy over sacrifice,’ and you wouldn’t be so quick to condemn people whom He doesn’t. You’d also realize that One greater than the temple is here and that God created the Sabbath as a blessing for mankind, not as a way to oppress them.”
The Sabbath controversy wasn’t going away. On yet another Sabbath day while Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, a man with a withered hand showed up. Of course, the scribes and Pharisees were all eyes, waiting to see if Jesus would heal him. Jesus knew what they were thinking so He asked them, “Is it against the law to heal on the Sabbath?” Then He called for the man to come down to the front where everyone could see what was going on. Jesus repeated the question, “Which is against the law, doing good by saving lives even though it’s the Sabbath or doing evil by destroying them?”
The crowd remained silent. “Tell me none of you has ever had to go out and rescue a sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath. Be honest, did you think twice about lifting the helpless creature out? Now which is of greater value, a sheep or a human being? So we’re agreed then: it’s okay to do good on the Sabbath.”
Jesus could see that the Pharisees were hardened in their rejection of Him and He was angry. He told the man to stretch out his hand which, when he did, became instantly as healthy as his other hand. That made the Pharisees so furious that they left and began plotting with the Herodians to destroy Him.
Jesus, knowing what they were up to, headed back to Galilee with His disciples. A crowd made up of folks from Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, the other side of the Jordan, and Tyre and Sidon all converged around Him. He asked His disciples to prepare a boat in case He needed to get away before being crushed by the multitude. Once again He healed all who were afflicted and cast out the demons. Whenever the unclean spirits cried out, “You are the Son of God,” He warned them to stop revealing His identity.
God had spoken about His coming Messiah through Isaiah the prophet: “Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases Me. I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise His voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Ultimately, He will cause justice to be victorious and His Name will be the hope of all the world.”
 A radical group that was normally at odds with the Pharisee’s agenda because they wanted a political coup to restore Herod’s dynasty.