And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
Have you ever heard someone attempt to argue that Jesus never claimed deity? This passage in Luke 6 is a good example of a way in which Jesus showed us that he is God without saying those exact words.
In a confrontation with the Pharisees, Jesus found himself accused about his Sabbath-keeping. The religious leaders argued that Jesus could not be a good person since he was allowing his disciples to pick and eat grain on the Sabbath. This, of course, was nonsense. Jesus’s disciples were not actually working, not farming. They simply were grabbing a snack in a field. The religious leaders did not recognize that they had perverted God’s law into their own set of rules.
But here is what caught my attention today. In his response to the religious leaders, Jesus claimed to be “Lord of the Sabbath.” A little deductive reasoning shows this to be a giant claim. Who instituted the Sabbath? Of course, it was God who did so (cf. Exodus 20:8-11). In instituting the Ten Commandments, God included the Sabbath regulation. What are the Ten Commandments? They are terms of the covenant between God as the Ruler (Suzerain) and Israel as his servants (vassals). The Ten Commandments came in a very familiar form as terms of a type of ancient treaty.
Now, here comes the simple conclusion. Who can claim to be Lord over the Ten commandments? Can one of the people claim to be lord, or can only the rightful Ruler claim to be Lord? Of course, only the rightful King, only the one who instituted the rules, only he can claim to be “Lord of the Sabbath.” If Jesus claims to be “Lord of the Sabbath,” he is claiming the position of Ruler, of King, of God who instituted the Ten Commandments.
This argument reminds us of C. S. Lewis’s logical response to Jesus. Since Jesus claims what he claims, we dare not consider him to be merely a good man or good moral teacher. Jesus has not left the door open. He must either be crazy, cruel, or actually the God he claims to be. It is logical to reject him outright as a lunatic or liar, but it is not logical to consider him to be just a good guy. If you do not reject him outright, you must accept the fact that Jesus is Lord, God who made us. He is the One who has the right to rule over our lives. If Jesus is “Lord of the Sabbath,” then he is Lord of all. If Jesus is Lord of all, he is Lord over you and me and all that is. Our only right response is worship and surrender to our Lord Jesus.