Foul! Illegal use of hands.

Matthew 12. Jesus and the disciples are walking along their way and, hungry, the disciples are pulling grains of wheat off stalks as they go through some farmer’s field. They rub their hands together, blow away the chaff and pop the grains in their mouths.

The pharisees cry “FOUL!” at this sinful behavior. Their fingers point. They accuse these men of breaking the law.

Before you misunderstand, the itinerant snacking is not illegal. They were not stealing nor were they being thus accused. The problem was that is was Saturday — the Sabbath. They were, by their actions already described, gleaning, thrashing, winnowing and preparing a meal. Sin, sin, sin, sin — because each of those activities were defined as WORK by their accusers.

Read Jesus’ response. It is beautiful. Liberating. Truth-filled and grace motivated. He came, according to his own words, to FULFILL the LAW (not abolish it). He provides the experts of the law a 4-point argument for why they are incorrect — an argument that demonstrates precedent, based on both law and tradition, and that is dripping with the authority of the Lord of the Sabbath. They weren’t so happy about any of it.

Here is the really odd thing. After this encounter is over, the pharisees go and begin plotting Jesus’ murder. So, they point fingers for Sabbath snacking but apparently it is okay to plan murder on the Sabbath. That is not work.


I looked back at my 2008 blog postings for January to see what I was thinking four years ago. I found a challenge in this post from 07-JAN/2008 and decided to re-post it here. 

One of the questions I’m asking myself this morning is this:  How am I hypocritical like these Pharisees?

2 thoughts on “Foul! Illegal use of hands.

  1. Alan Davidson says:

    I think we all have moments of hypocrisy. The way we side step it is use some form of coping mechanism. Then to the degree that our cognitive dissonance overrides that determines if we change or not. Obviously the cognitive dissonance wasnt creating too much pain for these Pharisees.

    • Ruth Hubbard says:

      I think you are the first person to use the phrase “cognitive dissonance” in a comment on my blog and I admit that I’m a little distracted by that fact. I like the way the phrase sounds for some reason.

      But I digress even before I begin.

      I do think we are all there some of the time…

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