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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today’s Reading | Luke 6:1–11

One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. (NRSV)


I am an Indiana University graduate, where basketball is the school’s pride and glory. For four years I went to the games and came to learn all of the IU chants, cheers, and traditions that make Hoosier basketball so special. I didn’t think to question why the basketball players’ names were never on their jerseys, I just knew that that was part of the basketball program’s tradition. I didn’t think to question or overanalyze the candy-striped pants; I just knew that is what IU basketball warm-up pants looked like. But eventually I did stop and wonder: Why are those traditions the way they are? Why are those traditions as special as they are?

This story in the Bible touches on the traditions of the Sabbath and how strict it was at the time. It was so looked down upon to do on the Sabbath the two things that Jesus allows and does in this passage: to let the disciples pick the wheat and to heal the man with the shriveled hand. The Pharisees are put into question here by Jesus. They love their traditions and have forgotten the original intent of the Sabbath, and that is what Jesus is trying to tell them.

Traditions and rituals can be good to guide our lives, but we must never forget the main purpose of them, otherwise they can lead us away from why they took shape to begin with. Jesus says here that it is important to heal this man now, not later, and it is important to feed our hunger now, not later. Human need has precedence over ritual custom. In our daily lives we must never forget the basic root of God’s doctrine. Is what I am doing really for a cause greater than myself, or is it because I am going along with my routine?


Lord, thank you for your word and principles of love. Help your truth always be at the base of my decisions, so that I might be a light for all those who need it. Amen.

Written by Ashley Elskus, Special Events and Membership Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning 

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