It was Saturday. The disciples were tired and hungry. They followed Jesus, sleeping wherever, eating wherever. On this day they were hungry.
They were walking on a path leading through a field. The grain was ripe. The disciples picked some, rubbed their hands together so the hulls broke away from the grain. They ate. It wasn’t bread, but it was food. It took the edge off.
The voice came from along the path.
Jesus looked. A couple of Pharisees, on their short walk to the synagogue, were pointing: “Your disciples are breaking the rules of the Sabbath.”
And, of course, they were. Picking a few grains was harvesting. Harvesting was work. Work violated the rest rules of the Sabbath. The religious people were precisely right.
Jesus responded quickly.
It was no surprise, of course. He had just asked people who were tired and weighed down to come and walk with him. It seemed odd to have to get up and move closer to him when moving anywhere was the last thing that anyone wanted to do. These were people who weren’t just tired. They were tired from living up to expectations. They were tired from having to look over their shoulder, expecting pastors to pester them, expecting Pharisees to flog them. Every step was a burden.
And Jesus says, “try my yoke”.
Though from agriculture, the image isn’t of an egg. It’s a carved wooden bar that fits over the shoulder of an ox. It’s what the plow is hooked to, the cart. Built well, it leverages pulling power. Built wrong, it digs in.
Sometimes the rules don’t help with the work. Instead, they cut the shoulders. But, Jesus says, his way of living gives life. Then he defends hungry disciples eating grain from pointless pointed rules.