What Jesus Did! 'Beating Them at Their Own Game' — Luke 6:1-4

Friday, March 17, 2023

One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain. But some Pharisees said, "Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?"

Jesus replied, "Haven't you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions."

— Luke 6:1-4 NLT

Key Thought

Legalism is a curse. It's so much of a curse that one of the primary reasons for Paul's letter to the Galatians was specifically to combat it. [1] However, Jesus had to battle those who used their legalistic knowledge of the Scriptures to challenge him to justify what his disciples did. So, as he did on several occasions, Jesus beat them at their own game. If they were going to make what his disciples did a sin by "straining gnats" of the law and their tradition, then Jesus would answer them by doing the same. Jesus had already made his point repeatedly in the preceding story: [2] With Jesus, God was doing something new, and there would be no business as usual — with Jesus present, it was a time of joy and a time of change. If David could do something that was considered to be forbidden, Jesus effectively said to the Pharisees in his use of their type of argument, then surely his disciples could do something similar since he was greater than David. The point? Don't mess with Jesus using legalism; you'll always lose! But then, why should you try to use legalistic arguments now that grace has come?

[1] Galatians 3, 4, 5, 6:12-18.
[2] Luke 5:33-39.

Today's Prayer

Father, please help me never abuse your Scriptures by trying to justify what I do or don't do, attempting to make myself look better than other folks seeking to honor you. Forgive me for the times in the past that I have done this. I am genuinely sorry. In the name of Jesus, I ask. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Luke 11:46-52
  • Luke 16:15
  • Luke 10:25-29


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Illustration of Luke 6:1-4 NLT — "Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?"

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.