“The Lord’s servant must not quarrel” 2 Tim 2:24.
When evil takes root common sense and logic flee the room. And interestingly each side things the other is wrong. It often leads to quarreling extraordinaire. We see this every single day in the news. Nobody is happy.
Jesus had the same thing. He says,
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
‘We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a funeral song,
and you did not more.’
For John cam neither eating nor drinking and they say, “He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her actions” (Mt 11:16-19).
They weren’t happy when the Word of God came in celebration. Wrong! They cried. And they weren’t happy when the Word of God came in grieving. Wrong! They cried. And the bottom line is they weren’t happy because they didn’t really want to believe in Jesus. They were looking for an excuse not to believe.
It was into this context that Jesus and his disciples one day were walking through grain fields. They were hungry. Really hungry. Maybe finances had been low. Maybe the crowds made them so busy they hadn’t had time to go looking for a meal. But they were literally hungry enough to eat heads of grain right off the stalks. It isn’t a pleasant meal if you’ve gnawed on grains of wheat. This clearly wasn’t a case of “having the munchies.” This was a case of hunger.
And when the disciples picked heads of grain to eat, the Pharisees cried foul. “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath” (12:2). Jesus stood up for them and provoked them to think about the meaning of the Sabbath.
“If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?” (12:11)
Of course they would.
But they wouldn’t care for man in the same way? Mainly because by having laws and rules they could control the people. And without holding to these rigid standards, they feared loss of that control.
So they would rescue a sheep in distress. But they wouldn’t a man. Because helping the sheep wasn’t breaking the Sabbath but helping a man was?
Completely illogical. Ludicrous even. But they didn’t see it. Common sense and logic were lost in justification.
In modern times if this discussion took place there would be a loud argument, going back and forth, defending and attacking the other sides. But Jesus was not that way.
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
No one will hear his voice in the streets.”
I think that’s the unique difference with Jesus. He didn’t hold back in provoking the people or speaking the truth. But nor did he enter into arguing and trying to talk over every one with loud words.
It didn’t mean that they weren’t provoked. To the contrary they were provoked enough that they “went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus” (12:14).
But his calling wasn’t to quarrel. It was to state the truth in love. And at times that did not make people happy at all. But he didn’t take the bait and enter into an argument either. He just stated the truth. Provoked their beliefs. Healed the man with all love. And moved on.