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?"As I read the verses above, I thought how the Pharisees thought they had all the answers on how one was to live spiritually and please God. They believed they had it all figured out. And yet, because of their interpretation of God's commands, they didn't recognize the one who gave the commands when He was in their midst.
Jesus answered the, "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 NIV)
Many years ago, I taught a group of fourth and fifth grade students in Sunday School. One Sunday, I had them help me rearrange the room. I told them that we had to face a certain direction so God would hear our prayers. I told them that they had to pray a certain way. I kept adding rule after rule after rule. Finally, the students began to question me, which is exactly what I wanted them to do. Then together we sat on the floor and read what God said about prayer. I reminded them that regardless of who told them something was the way a Christian would act or something a Christian would or should do, that the only true authority was God himself. I told them that any instruction they received outside of God's word had to be confirmed in His word. Otherwise, it was no more than what the Pharisees did. It was simply making up rules.
Not only did the Pharisees interpret God's word to fit their rules, they tried hard to make the Creator himself fit their rules. They insisted that Jesus do things their way. It reminds me of a parent setting boundaries and rules for a child and the child twisting and turning the words until it fits what they want. In addition, the child then tries to make the parents follow their interpretation of those rules. As a parent, I can almost laugh at this idea. But as a child of God, it becomes a different situation.
Do I ever try to interpret God's rules to allow me to do what I want? I'm sure I've been guilty of it. Does God call me down on it? Many times He has and I pray that He will continue to do so.
I read something recently that talked about the passage above. The writer spoke about how the Pharisees were looking for an excuse to accuse Jesus. The author warned that we should listen with an open heart and accept the messages in our churches, rather than be as critical as the Pharisees were. However, I also believe that we should do as I tried to instruct my Sunday School class years ago. Don't accept every word you hear, even if it's from an established teacher, preacher, or well-known Christian. Ask yourself if God's word confirms what you hear. Ask yourself if what the speaker or author says contradicts the word of God. Be diligent in studying God's words so you know the truth and you know the half-truths.
Here's a verse of scripture that I consider very wise instruction: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20 KJV)
Many of you, no doubt, know the story of Jim Jones and the many people who blindly followed him, doing what they were told, even to the point of mass suicide. In 1978, more than 900 people drank poisoned kool-aid because they followed a man rather than God. The Bible warns us that many false prophets will preach empty words that sound good. Apparently, Jim Jones was one of them.
1 John 4:1 says, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (NIV) My personal paraphrase of this is, "Don't drink the kool-aid." It is my desire that none of us be deceived and all of us follow what the Lord has commanded.
©copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver