"Have you never read what David did ... ?" (Luke 6:3-5)

"Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions. The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath." (Luke 6:3-5)
Here Jesus is responding to a question some Pharisees asked him:
"Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" (Luke 6:2)
The background is that Jesus and his disciples were traveling, and they were walking through some grainfields. His disciples, being hungry, 'began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.' (Luke 6:1)

Why does Jesus refer to David here?

Jesus was defending his disciples eating grains on the Sabbath - contrary to a devotional rite maintained by the Jewish temple priests and their followers.

In response to the Pharisees' question, Jesus compares this act to when David and his "companions" were eating food by custom permitted only for the temple priests to eat.

The point Jesus is making is that David was serving the Supreme Being directly, and this put him in a position equivalent - even superior - to a priest. And David's "companions" were actually his assistants - his students. This is confirmed by the Greek words μετά (meta) and αὐτός (autos).

While the translators of this verse have assumed μετά (meta) means "with," the lexicon clarifies that the word relates to someone or something that follows "after" or "behind." We can know from this that David's "companions" were actually his followers.

Just as Jesus' disciples were following and assisting Jesus in his mission to serve God, David also had students who were assisting him in his efforts to serve the Supreme Being.

Thus, David was permitted, in the eyes of God, to eat of the consecrated food - e.g, food that had been offered at the Altar of the Supreme Being.

Jesus compares this act to the act of his own disciples eating grain on the Sabbath because Jesus understands that his practical and direct service to the Supreme Being stood above the rituals designed to help people remember the Supreme Being.

What is the purpose of religious rites?

Remembering the Supreme Being is - or should be - the purpose of any ritualistic ceremony or sacrifice. The purpose of the rites and regulations that have descended through the teachings of God's devoted servants is devotion to God. These activities are ultimately meant to remind us of the Supreme Being - and remind us that we are ultimately God's subjects.

Practical service by His devoted servants already accomplished this objective. The actions of God's loving servants to please Him stand above the rituals because they are directly pleasing to the Supreme Being. Devoted lovers of God do not need to be reminded of their Beloved, the Supreme Being, while pushing forward on their mission to serve Him and please Him. They have already achieved the goal of any ceremonial or sacrificial rite.

Jesus' disciples were traveling by foot from town to town in Judea to assist Jesus' preaching. They were performing practical service to support Jesus' efforts to please the Supreme Being. Because they were traveling by foot, they needed to eat. They were traveling on the Sabbath, so they could not fast as others who could take the day off and not work during the Sabbath.

It didn't matter whether it was the Sabbath or not to Jesus. For Jesus, every day was dedicated to the Supreme Being. While others did other types of work on the non-Sabbath days, Jesus continued his efforts to please the Supreme Being seven days a week. He was the perfect loving servant of the Supreme Being.

What does 'the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath' mean?

This point of perfect loving servant is precisely why Jesus described himself - along with David - as the "Son of man."

Notice that Jesus does not say "I am the Lord of the Sabbath." Or even, "I, the Son of man, am the Lord of the Sabbath." Why not? 

Jesus is clearly referring to the "Son of man" in the third person. Why is that?

Is this the way people talk? Would a person come up to us and talk of themselves in the third person? Would they (assuming they were wearing a blue shirt) say: "Hello. The man wearing the blue shirt is named Sam and he is speaking with you" ? No. He would say, "Hello. I am Sam and I am pleased to speak with you."

Rather, Jesus was referring to the position of "Son of man" rather than personally to himself. Jesus had just compared his disciples eating the grain to David and David's students eating consecrated bread. So the "Son of man" was inclusive of David.

In other words, Jesus was referring to the role of "Son of man." Otherwise, it makes no sense that Jesus would suddenly take a third-person stance in his statement. When someone speaks of themselves exclusively, they say "me" or "I" - they speak in the first person.

When they mean "you" or "he" or "she" they speak in the second person. But when they speak of a person taking on a particular role, they speak in the third person, as Jesus was speaking.

Let's use an example. Let's say that an Army officer is mixing it up in the Officer's Club at the Army base. Suddenly he sees a private walking and milling around in the Officer's Club. What will he say? He will say something like: "This club is only for officers." He won't say: "This club is only for me" because that would not be true. There are other officers besides himself, so the officer discusses the role or position of officer in the third person.

This is confirmed by the fact that David also identified himself as a "Son of man:"
"O Lord, what is man that you care for him, the Son of man that you think of him?" (Psalm 144:3)
Notice that David also uses this term in the third person, once again because it is a role or position. And we know that David was speaking of himself here (despite incorrect interpretations by professional Christian teachers to the contrary), because of the context of the verse, and the previous verse:
"He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me." (Psalm 144:2)
In fact, we know that others in the Old Testament were also referred to as "Son of man." Consider Job's self-description, once again in the third person:
"who (referring to himself) is but a maggot - a Son of man, who is only a worm!" (Job 25:6)
God also repeatedly addressed Ezekial as "Son of man." Here is one of the many verses:
"He [God] said: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against Me to this very day." (Ezekial 2:3)
Furthermore, we must clarify that the English phrase translated by professional translators - "Son of man" - is a misinterpretation.

What could "Son of man" possibly mean, and why would this be a distinctive title anyway? There is nothing distinctive about being a son of a man. Every man is a son of a man. Therefore, we must invalidate this translation from both the Greek and Hebrew phrases.

The Hebrew word "Son of man" is taken from two Hebrew words: בן (ben) and אדם ('adam) (or אנוש ('enowsh) - both refer to humanity). The word בן (ben) can certainly mean "son" when used in the context of a physical family. But the word can also, according to the Hebrew lexicon, refer to someone who is a follower or servant of a particular order, person or philosophy. According to the lexicon, בן (ben) can be used to describe "a member of a guild, order, class."

For example, בן (ben) was used repeatedly throughout the Old Testament to describe the Israelites - בן (ben) ישראל Yisra'el - literally translated to "sons of Israel." And this was not describing people who were necessarily descendants of Israel or born in the tribe. This is describing those who followed the philosophy of the prophet Israel.

בן (ben) was also used to describe "sons of God" multiple times, such as:
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (Genesis 6:2)
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. (Job 1:6)
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (Job 2:1)
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)
We find the same phrase used in the New Testament:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matt. 6:9)
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)
These are not describing "sons" as the physical offspring, but rather, followers of God. Devotees of God. Depending upon the context, this could be translated to either "followers of God" or "devotees of God" or "servants of God" - but also (as in the case of Jesus in the singular) - "representative of God."

While certainly "son" was also used to describe physical sons in other texts of the Bible, there is a blurring of the word in other places as it was also used to describe followers or devotees. This interchangeability continues even to this day, as many institutions call their priest "father." Is the priest really their physical "father?" Certainly not. The correct address is "teacher."

As a result of this periodic mistranslation and confusion, the texts of the Bible refer to some as physical sons, when in fact, they were followers. Here is an example:
'The priests, the sons of Levi, shall step forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister and to pronounce blessings in the name of the LORD and to decide all cases of dispute and assault.' (Deuteronomy 21:5)
Were all those priests - spoken of generally in this verse - the physical offspring of Levi? Certainly not. Rather, they were followers of Levi. They were in the order of Levi.

Similar periodic misinterpretations were also made in the New Testament, but this time from the Greek language (this is not a coincidence, as the Greek texts mirrored the devotional language of the Hebrew texts.)

In the New Testament the word "son" in "Son of man" and "Son of God" is coming from the Greek word υἱός (huios). Just as בן (ben) can also refer to a follower or member of an order, the Greek lexicon details that the word is "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower. 1) a pupil" Thus just as we find many uses of בן (ben) in the Old Testament that describe followers, devotees or subjects, we also find the same uses in the New Testament. Consider for example, a statement by Jesus in Matthew:
"But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 8:12)
In this statement, "subjects" is being translated from the Greek word υἱός (huios) - the same word used in "son of man" and "son of God." We know that Jesus was not talking about physical "sons" of a kingdom in Matt. 8:12. He was speaking of those who follow a particular philosophy - the philosophy of materialism - the kingdom of the physical world.

In the very same way, the use of the word υἱός (huios) in the Greek phrase υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου does not refer to a physical son of a man. This would be a preposterous and meaningless title.

Rather, the words υἱός (huios) and בן (ben) in these contexts refer to service. Jesus, David, Ezekial and Job are being referred to as servants - dedicated servants. But servants of what? In υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, the Greek word τοῦ refers to "of" and the Greek word ἀνθρώπου refers to either "man" "mankind" or "humanity" - just as אדם ('adam) or אנוש ('enowsh) do.

Thus, the proper translation of υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου is not "Son of man."

It is "Servant of humanity."

Was Jesus serving humanity?

This is the appropriate title for one who assumes the role of serving all of humanity. They are trying to deliver God's message to us. They are performing a service to us, and to the Supreme Being. They are delivering a message from the Supreme Being. This is illustrated in God's instruction to Ezekiel quoted above (Ezekial 2:3).

This might be compared to a college professor who might say he is providing a service to his students, or an elected leader who says he is performing government service - to the people.

In this case, however, the service that Jesus, David, Job, and Ezekial - along with all of the prophets who have represented God - comes not from a salary or public post, but from a place of love. They are loving the Supreme Being, and thus loving all humanity - God's children. They are thus trying to bring us back to the spiritual realm, where we can be happy.

This was Jesus' service to us, and thus he is the ultimate Servant of humanity.

And this is why Jesus made a point of saying that those who assume this role of Servant of humanity on behalf of the Supreme Being, are also the "Lord of the Sabbath." They are not "Lord" as in the Supreme Being. But they are "Lord" in the context that they are above the rituals that have been ordained for us ordinary folks who need to be reminded of the Supreme Being.

Besides, Jesus was not interested in being "Lord." His interest was being God's servant and the servant of humanity. This is why he also said:
"If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." (Mark 9:35)