Psalm 103:1-8 The Voice (VOICE)
A song of David.
1 O my soul, come, praise the Eternal
6 When people are crushed, wronged, enslaved, raped, murdered,
Nehemiah 13:15-22 The Voice (VOICE)
15 At that same time, I looked around Judah and saw men working the winepresses on the Sabbath. Others I found bringing large loads of grain to be loaded on donkeys. Wine, grapes, figs—they brought every kind of load into Jerusalem on the Sabbath no matter the season. I warned them about selling food on the Sabbath, just as they were doing it. 16 There were men from Tyre living in Jerusalem. They also brought fish and all kinds of merchandise into Jerusalem and sold it to the people of Judah on the Sabbath, even in Jerusalem. 17 I confronted the leaders of Judah, whom I held responsible for the public’s actions.
Nehemiah: Why are you doing what you know is wicked? You are desecrating the Sabbath! 18 Tell me how this is different from what we just confessed about our ancestors and their sin. This is the thing that provoked God’s judgment and the destruction of this very city. You are fueling the fire of judgment for Israel by desecrating the Sabbath!
19 As the sun was setting before the Sabbath and darkness fell over Jerusalem’s gates, I ordered the doors to be closed. I required them to remain closed until the Sabbath ended. I placed some of my own guards by the gates to ensure no load of merchandise could be brought into the city during the Sabbath, but Jerusalem’s citizens could still come and go. 20 On a couple of different occasions, some traders and merchants of a great variety of goods slept by the gates outside the wall. 21 They also received a warning from me.
Nehemiah: What are you up to, sleeping here outside the wall? If I find you here again, you will be removed by force!
They never came back on the Sabbath again. 22 I ordered the Levites to go through the purifying rituals and then to come back and guard the gates so that the Sabbath would be kept holy.
Nehemiah: O God—my God—remember my actions. Because of Your great love, show me mercy.
Luke 6:1-5 The Voice (VOICE)
6 1-2 One Sabbath Day,[a] some Pharisees confronted Jesus again. This time, they saw the disciples picking some grain as they walked through the fields. The disciples would dehusk the grain by rubbing the kernels in their hands, and then they would eat it raw.
Jesus certainly has His detractors. They watch Him closely and voice their opposition to His words and actions. Sometimes they even try to stump Him with questions or publicly humiliate Him. But Jesus refuses to be intimidated. For every charge they level, He has an answer. To the charge of blasphemy, He responds, “I have the authority to forgive sins.” To the charge that He befriends sinners and parties too much, He answers, “These are My people; I’ve come for them.” To the accusation that He breaks Sabbath law, He quips, “The Sabbath is a great servant, but it’s not your master. I am Lord of the Sabbath.” The crowds are amazed at the tense give-and-take between Jesus and His opponents. They seem to respect the Pharisees for their strict observance of God’s law, or perhaps they fear them because they don’t want to become targets of Pharisaic criticism. Yet the people are attracted to Jesus because of the peculiar moral authority He exhibits. As time goes on, Jesus crosses more and more lines drawn in the sand. The tension between Jesus and the Pharisees now becomes a major plotline of Luke’s story.
Pharisees: Don’t You know the sacred law says You can’t harvest and mill grain on the Sabbath Day—the day on which all work is forbidden? Why do You think You can ignore the sacred law?
The Pharisees think they have God all figured out. They claim to be experts in the sacred writings—the Hebrew Scriptures. But Jesus doesn’t fit in with their assumptions and expectations, and He doesn’t submit to their presumed expertise. So they are constantly criticizing Him and trying to trap Him in some obvious wrongdoing or unorthodoxy. But Jesus responds with questions instead of answers. He seems to decide that the best way to help them is by challenging them to think, to question their assumptions, to see things from a higher or deeper perspective. For example, they argue about what is permissible on the Sabbath Day (the seventh day, the day of rest); this is how Jesus gets them thinking about the deeper purpose of the Sabbath Day.
Jesus: 3 Speaking of the sacred law, haven’t you ever read about the time when David and his companions were hungry? 4 Don’t you remember how he went into the house of God and took the sacred bread of the presence—which, you may recall, only the priests were lawfully permitted to eat? Remember that he not only ate it, but he also gave it to his companions?[b] 5 Likewise, the Son of Man has authority over the Sabbath.