I was listening to a podcast sermon recently and I heard the preacher say something along the lines of: "Jesus really liked to tick-off the Pharisees and Sadducees, and just about anyone in authority." This isn't an exact quote, but is the gist of the idea the preacher was making. I have heard others say things that are very similar. I am not sure I agree with this viewpoint. In the Gospels we never hear of Jesus gloating about his ability to flummox those leaders who were not pleased with his ministry. He simply did that which he thought was the right thing to do, and if the byproduct were others being annoyed, well that was their issue, not his.
Today's Gospel reading is an example of this point. The Pharisees are annoyed that the disciples, following along with Jesus on a Sabbath, pick some grain-heads, rub them together and eat them because they were hungry. These same leaders are said to be annoyed a week later when Jesus heals an individual with a withered hand, in the Synagogue, on the Sabbath. Jesus challenges these leaders, not out of spite, but by saying: Hey, they were hungry, enough already, and Come on folks, this person shouldn't have to wait to be healed, simply because it is our sanctioned day of rest. These Gospel stories do not show Jesus gloating, and any interpretation of Jesus' emotional motives are transposed by the creator of those emotions. There are examples of Jesus' emotions and motives in Scripture, but one-up-man-ship is not one of them.
Instead, the Pharisees and Sadducees being ticked-off is more about them, than about the ministry of Jesus. He is showing them, teaching them, that there are more important things in life than human-made rules. Feeding the hungry, helping those in need, takes precedence over human-made regulations. God intends and wants us to rest, but not at the expense of those for whom we are called to care.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Blessing, 2011, Forman-Snyder Wedding