Blessed… You Broke the Law

At that time Jesus went through the wheat fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry so they were picking heads of wheat and eating them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are breaking the Sabbath law.” But he said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and those with him were hungry?  He went into God’s house and broke the law by eating the bread of the presence, which only the priests were allowed to eat. Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple treat the Sabbath as any other day and are still innocent?  But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what this means, I want mercy and not sacrificeyou wouldn’t have condemned the innocent. The Human One is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:1-8, Common English Bible).

There used to be a set of laws in Texas that were called the “Blue Laws.” Most were repealed several years ago, probably because very few paid much attention to them anyway.

Most of the laws centered around shopping and what you could and couldn’t buy. For example, you could buy baby food (or any other food for that matter), but you couldn’t buy diapers (they were considered clothing and you couldn’t buy clothing). You could buy lumber but you couldn’t buy nails to build your project.

I worked at a grocery store as a teenager. We were open on Sundays but we had to arrange our stock so we could rope off the isles that held things we couldn’t sell. It didn’t stop some of our customers and the cashiers would have to watch the purchases closely.

As I read today’s lesson my mind went back to those customers who would duck under the rope to grab something they “needed.” I also have vivid memories of them trying to convince the cashier to go ahead and sell it to them. Many would get very irate when they couldn’t buy the thing the law prevented the store from selling.

In the lesson, the disciples were hungry and for most of us, when we are hungry we will find something to eat! In the Biblical era, to cook a meal on the Sabbath was to work. Because the disciples were picking grain to eat, that was work too. It didn’t matter if a person was hungry, what mattered was following the law.

As we have already said, most recently yesterday, there was so much to the law that few regular people would remember it all. And, if one were walking through a field and you were hungry, most of us would absentmindedly reach over, pick a little and eat it.

When I was a young child, my grandparents had blackberry vines in their back yard. When the berries were in season and we were at their home, I often found myself in the backyard. More often than not, it was on a Sunday. I was often given a bucket to pick berries to take home (I still love blackberries). As I would pick the berries, which in itself would have violated Hebrew law, I probably ate about as many as made it into my bucket.

I was a kid then and didn’t know anything about a law that prevented that kind of thing. Still, even if I had and was told not to pick the berries, I still might have reached out and picked a few to eat on the spot, without ever thinking about it.

Jesus’ idea here is, treating the Sabbath as special, keeping it holy isn’t a matter of obeying the law, it is a matter of the heart. Further, I think Jesus was more about keeping the Sabbath holy because we want to do so, not because there is an Old Testament law that says we should.

How do you keep the Sabbath (Sunday) Holy?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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