One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." -Luke 6:1-5
My next door neighbor has a garden which always produces an abundance of vegetables, and he is most generous in sharing with others. He told me once that if I ever wanted anything out of his garden to feel free to pick whatever I wanted. One day sometime later Andrea and I were preparing supper for our family and we realized that we needed a bell pepper. Andrea suggested that I go and pick one out of our neighbor’s garden. Afterwards, one of our sons heard Andrea and I talking about this and he asked me about the pepper I had brought home. When I told him I had gotten it from our neighbor’s garden he asked me, “You stole it?” I assured him that I had expressed permission to enter the garden and take what I needed. We had a good laugh about that, and so did my neighbor when I told him.
The Scripture shows Jesus and the disciples taking advantage of an Old Testament law that allowed the poor to go into the fields of someone else and pick enough food s that they would not starve (Leviticus 23:21-23). Jesus and His disciples took advantage of this law in order to find something to eat. However, the problem came when this took place on the Sabbath. Again we find an example of the Pharisees placing the letter of the law over human need, something which Jesus always rejected. Jesus consistently placed human need over and above the letter of the law. The Lord then went on to remind them that king David, during a time of need, also placed human need over the letter of the law (I Samuel 21:6).
As we serve the Lord, let us always be about placing the needs of others first. We can get bogged down with rules and regulations about what people are wearing, the kind of music being played in church, the color of the church carpet, Bible translations, and whether or not the pastor wears white shirts only as opposed to pastel colors. All of that takes our focus off of what we should be doing, which is sharing Jesus Christ with others.
Which will we choose; the letter of the law or human need? Jesus chose human need every time. Let us go and do likewise.