By Luke Lancaster
The prolific Jewish rabbinic scholar Jacob Neusner, who wrote or edited over 900 books, claimed that Jesus referred to His apostles as priests in Matthew 12:1-5. The text reads,
“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry…Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?”
Jesus was not just saying to the Pharisees that the apostles could pluck grain cause, “well, you guys do it too!” The Jewish priests were justified, as the Old Testament said that the priests could eat on the sabbath. Jesus and His apostles are not justified, unless they are priests as well.
Rabbi Neusner says, “He [Jesus] and his disciples may do on the Sabbath what they do because they stand in the place of the priests in the Temple…” (Rabbi Neusner, quoted by Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. 1, p. 108).