Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
Hungry! Waking up in the early morning, worshiping with Jesus with no time to eat breakfast the disciples were hungry. On the way to the synagogue, they walked through a field ripe for harvest. The most natural thing in the world to do is pluck some grain, rub the husks off, and satisfy that rumbling, empty belly. (Matthew 12:1)
The Pharisees did not object to the disciples taking food from the farmer’s field, but objected to the disciples “reaping” on the Sabbath.
“Didn’t you ever read the story of David and his hungry men? They took the fresh shew bread that only the priests were supposed to eat,” Jesus asked the frowning Pharisees (1 Samuel 21 and Leviticus 24:5-9). No lightening strikes, no frizzing hair, or thundering voice of recrimination came from Heaven for David and his men of valor. Because their act was one that sprung from necessity; people were hungry and the priests had just baked some bread. On the other hand Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16) overstepped the priests’ boundary, and contracted leprosy for his prideful act when he did it. These two very different outcomes sprang from heart intent. David wanted to feed his men, but Uzziah wanted to take the place of the priests. That kind of heart intent is pride, and we all know that pride goes before destruction.
Jesus doesn’t scoff at the Pharisees’ voice of criticism. He just points out that the priests do a lot of work on the Sabbath, but are blameless. They are in service toward worship… their labor on the Sabbath is lawful, and the Pharisees had no leg to stand upon on this point. They knew beyond doubt that what Jesus said was true, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” But they did take great exception to what He said just before that, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” That truth rankled their feelings considerably, it meant that this lowly, scruffy-looking prophet that hung around all sorts of sinful people was more important than they were. They just couldn’t have that at all.
Now, Jesus said three things that have rich meaning:
1. Greater than the Temple is here. (Matthew 12:6)
2. Greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:
3. Greater than Solomon is here.
After everything Jesus said, the Pharisees didn’t get it at all. They were so blind they thought gold was greater than the temple that sanctified the gold, (Matthew 23:17) so for them to grasp the idea that Jesus was greater than the Temple went beyond their comprehension. Jesus tried to point out that that the Sabbath was made for men, not men for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27). Human life and human welfare is much more important to God than any building, or any day, or any sacrifices. The Pharisees and scribes had their priorities out of order. A good example of this is the story of the Good Samaritan. God is greater than the Sabbath, because the Sabbath is set aside to honor God.
Then came the shocker. Jesus rubbed their noses in their own frailties when He told the man to stretch out his hand, and it was healed. Right in front of them, the power of God did something that no prophet had ever been able to do before: Make a withered hand whole. That ticked them off royally, so they plotted out how to kill Him.
Jesus cast out demons from a man, and healed him from his blindness and muteness. This was a tremendous sign that Jesus was the longed for Messiah. Jesus exhibited His power over Satan. The people recognized Him because they were less prejudiced and less biased by worldly interests than the scribes and Pharisees. Imagine that! These people, common, plain, and uneducated by religious teachings, could not miss the truth because it was so plain and easy for them to see. They saw this as a great sign. Yet the Pharisees accused Jesus of working for Beelzebub.
Can’t you just hear Jesus’ huge sigh of frustration?
Jesus rubbed their noses in their stupidity. Down through the centuries this truth has been proved over and over: A house divided cannot stand. It is so obvious that one wonders how the Pharisees could be so blind.
The Pharisees were jealous of Christ. As the people’s esteem for Jesus increased, they thought their importance and position as the people’s guides diminished. Their pride was pricked just as King Saul’s was because of David’s exploits. They lived for the favor of man rather than to please God, which was the job they were born to do. Their rejection of their job as priests and spiritual guides is never more apparent as Jesus’ ministry increases the people awareness of the huge difference between them and Him.
Here we see the unforgivable sin. Speaking against the Holy Spirit, attributing the work of the Spirit to some devil’s work is unforgivable. It’s why Christians must be so careful to not hastily judge how God works in His children’s lives. We cannot see into the hearts of our siblings in Christ, therefore we cannot judge with surety how God is working in their hearts. Yes, we know them by their fruit. So we must wait until the fruit is ripe before knowing if it is good or bad.
The Pharisees asked for a sign.
Hear another huge sigh of frustration from Jesus. They had just witnessed a miracle of hand being healed. Then had heard witnesses testify of the most awesome signs of Jesus’ conquest over Satan, and that wasn’t good enough for them. They wanted another. It reminds me of the Rich Man’s request to Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers so they would believe God, and when they died not be tormented as he was in Hell. Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets. They won’t believe even if one is raised from the dead.” (Luke 16) In other words, even Jesus rising from the dead would not make them believe.
Indeed, one greater than Jonah is here.
Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of a huge fish then vomited up on the beach. Jonah told the Ninevites what had happened to him, and they believed, and they repented. No miracles or signs were needed. Jesus said He would be three days and nights in the bowels of the earth. That would be their sign. It was true, they did not believe even then.
The Queen of Sheba would also be their judge because she came from “the ends of the earth” to hear the truth and wisdom of King Solomon. She was a Goyim, a Gentile. She had heard of Solomon, and had to see him for herself. She believed, and brought back to her country the good news of Jehovah.
A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, such as Solomon speaks of (Proverbs 25:26), must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams.
Jesus saw their hearts and called them a brood of vipers. Poisonous and deadly, they intimidated the common people to keep them from believing Jesus. The common people were so afraid of being ostracized from the temple and from synagogues. Evil words are the natural, genuine product of an evil heart. Therefore, bad things spew out of bad people. Wickedness proceeds from the wicked, 1 Samuel 24:13. The vile person will speak villainy, (Isaiah 32:6).One greater than Solomon lives.
Only grace, can change the hearts of men. Only God's love brings living water to refresh and revive weary sojourners in this world. Only God's power changes corrupted springs into fresh, life-giving pools of water to thirsty and hungry people.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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