Mark – God is on our side!
Many waiters and waitresses in the restaurant industry will tell you that the most difficult day to serve people is Sunday! Many people who dress on the outside to fit the followers of people at the church where they attend are demanding and snarky to servers in the local establishments they hit before or after church.
Servers say people treat them unkindly, don’t look them in the eye as a human trying to make a living, and even judge them for working on Sunday. Instead of a tip, “Christians” will leave a track explaining the way to salvation.
Wow. But true.
Is this the behavior our Lord wants and expects for His Sabbath?
Are we modern day Pharisees when we behave badly?
What if we behaved as Jesus would?
What if servers and others in need saw a glimpse Jesus through us? Would there be a chance they might be “saved” from the unkind and instead be blessed through a kind word, a generous tip, and a smile?
I know this is random, but I think about this as Jesus has breakfast on the way to Sabbath with his disciples following him along with the judgement that followed poured on Him by the religious elite.
WHO is in charge of the Sabbath? Keep this in mind.
Mark 2, NLT
A Discussion about the Sabbath
23 One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. 24 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”
25 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 26 He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.”
27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
GOING DEEPER STILL…
The Sabbath was cherished by the Jews as a sacred institution. God gave the people of Israel the Sabbath after they came out of Egypt, and it was a special sign between Israel and Jehovah (Ex. 31:13–17). There is no record in Scripture that God ever gave the Sabbath to any other nation. So, when Jesus began openly to violate the Sabbath traditions, it was like declaring war against the religious establishment. He began His campaign by healing a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years (John 5), and then followed with the events recorded in this section.
Jewish tradition stated that there were thirty-nine acts that were strictly forbidden on the Sabbath. Moses had prohibited work on the Sabbath, but he did not give many specifics. It was wrong to kindle a fire for cooking, gather fuel, carry burdens, or transact business. But Jewish tradition went into great detail and even informed the people how far they could travel on the Sabbath (two hundred cubits, based on Josh. 3:4). In short, the Sabbath day had become a crushing burden, a symbol of the galling religious bondage that had captured the nation.
After healing the man at the Pool of Bethesda, our Lord’s next act of “Sabbath defiance” was to walk through the fields on the Sabbath and permit His disciples to pluck the grain, rub it between their hands, and eat it. It was not illegal for a hungry person to take some of his neighbor’s fruit or grain, provided he did not fill a vessel or use a harvesting implement (Deut. 23:24–25). However, that was not what upset the Pharisees. What upset them was that the disciples had worked on the Sabbath day!
The argument is reasonable: if a hungry king and his men were permitted to eat the holy bread from the tabernacle (1 Sam. 21:1–6), then it was right for the Lord of the Sabbath to permit His men to eat the grain from His fields. David broke a definite law given by Moses, for the showbread was for the priests only (Lev. 24:5–9), but the disciples had violated only a man-made tradition. God is surely more concerned with meeting the needs of people than He is with protecting religious tradition. The Pharisees had their priorities confused.
QUESTION FOR REFLECTION
Do we get our priorities confused? Do we forget Who is Lord of the Sabbath? Are we following man-made traditions that ignore meeting needs of people?
Are we doing church or being the God’s people, ambassadors of Jesus Christ, His Son?
“So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!'” (2 Corinthians 5:20, NLT)
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
We have come back to you through your work on the cross. We are reconciled to You. So help us to behave like we believe to all others who need you. Help us to help others find and follow You. It is not our place or right to judge, only to love. Help us to hold in our heart and display with our actions YOUR characteristics of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.