So what was at stake here? Was it the Sabbath? Not really.
For Jesus, there wasn’t such a thing as a Sabbath breath from healing, and teaching, and bringing people to salvation. So as he walked along with his disciples, it didn’t bother him that they were “working” by picking heads of grain to eat. They were hungry. And Jesus was all about feeding peoples’ hunger, no matter what kind of hunger it was, and no matter what day it was – Sabbath or not.
He would be widely criticized for teaching on the Sabbath, but people were hungry for news of salvation. He would be called blasphemous for calling God his Father on the Sabbath, but people were hungry for relationship with their God. He would receive death threats for healing on the Sabbath, but people were hungry for wholeness.
Jesus’ point here is that the Sabbath is never important just for itself. The Sabbath was an opportunity for people to rest in God, and it was God, not the Law, that could decide how that happened. The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.