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The Sabbath Was Made For Man

Watch Week Two Day Three

The Sabbath Was Made For Man

As we saw yesterday, the Pharisees took issue with the disciples eating. In today’s passage, they’ll object them eating again, but this time because of the day of the week.

Grazing On The Sabbath

Jesus’ response to the issue of fasting struck at the Pharisees’ self-righteous religious standards. In this next conflict, they debate the Sabbath, a statute far more important than voluntary fasting. The stakes are raised again.

We should note that the disciples picking heads of grain and eating them wasn’t illegal. Farmers left the edges and corners of fields for the poor and those passing by as the Law required (Leviticus 19:9, 23:22). The Pharisees’ complaint is that they are doing so on the Sabbath. They view their actions as reaping and winnowing (according to their traditions) and therefore work, breaking the Sabbath law to rest.

Jesus answers their complaint with scripture, pointing to the story of David in 1 Samuel 21:1–6. Surprisingly, David did break the Law. Yet he wasn’t condemned for it, which supports Jesus’ point in verse 27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Human need trumps rules and regulations.

He could have left the argument there but Jesus makes a greater point: “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” (v. 28). Which begs the question, if the Lord instituted the Sabbath, who does that make Jesus?

To Do Good Or Evil

The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees has reached an all time high. In 3:2 we learn the religious leaders are looking for a way to bring Jesus down. On another Sabbath, the two parties meet in the synagogue.

Jesus understood exactly what the Pharisees schemed. He refused to play their game, calling the man with the shriveled hand front and center. Mark holds back any details about the man because his focus stays on the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. But we should note that, in an agrarian society, his condition likely left him unable to work. Nothing about his condition was minor.

Before healing the man, Jesus calls out the Pharisees for how twisted their understanding of God’s will has become. “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” He asks (3:4). They have no response.

At this point in the story, Mark pauses to capture Jesus’ emotion. In verse 5, we read that He was angry and that He grieved. Jesus grieved for the Pharisees’ hard hearts. He wanted them to understand and repent. But they didn’t.

The man obeys Jesus’ command, stretching out his now-healed hand. The Pharisees are blind to the miracle that has occurred in front of them. Mark says they left “immediately.” They are so concerned with breaking their own traditions that they don’t hesitate to plan a murder, breaking one of the Ten Commandments. They are so intent on their plan that they team up with their political enemy, the Herodians.

Jesus knew that by healing the man, the Pharisees would seek to kill him. He did so anyway.

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Daily Question

In what ways are we prone to placing rules and regulations above human need? What do these stories reveal to us about who Jesus is?

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Comments (9)

We often become hyper focused on the rules and regulations when they are convenient for us! We all at some point need to pivot and re-focus. Currently for me I am trying to treat each day as the Sabbath as long as God has given me this respite in my medical journey and trying to wake up each day and be thankful and do something that I have been too sick to do, like participating in this bible study. It might not last for very long, but I am grateful for every minute right now.

I grew up believing that rules and regulations maintain order and keep chaos from ensuing. These stories reveal that Jesus put the needs of humans before the rules.

We all get caught up in our rules and routines while thinking about what comes next and trying to get r done daily! Yet in life it seems my plans are typically or at least often interrupted with the plans or needs of another instead! This reading causes me to stop and check my own motives, plans and or desires and ponder whether maybe my plans are not as important as I make them out to be. There is a God; He has a plan already and often I need to be corrected to see the bigger picture of what’s really going on! Jesus is the Lord, He has a purpose in all things even when inconvenient. I often feel pulled into somebody else’s mess but maybe it’s time to pause and note there may be a bigger plan going on in the interruptions of my life!

When we are throwing away food at restaurants/grocery stores etc when it could feed the hungry. There should be a way to manage this. I found Jesus to be a man of common sense in this reading.

Quarantine has taught me that it feels wonderful to have every day at home and enjoy it as a Sabbath. And I’ve learned that we can make do on so much less than we thought we could!

Jesus is our teacher and savior. He has a plan for each of us, and if we pay close attention he will guide us into his plan.

I feel the same way Joann, this quarantine makes one realize what really is important. I heard so many parents of my 3rd graders saying.."Family dinners are back, we are too scheduled, being outside and just playing or just "being" is what we need. Jesus did put human need first, he always has. It is time for us to pay attention to our needs and focus on what is important, not what we think we need or what we think is important.

So many areas- mental health, justice systems, with ourselves individually. I find that the regulations and expectations I put on myself and my life cover and lay shadows on the true gifts that God wants to give me. These stories reveal that Jesus is such a beautiful emotional, gentle God. I just love his spirit. He is willing that all should love fully and fruitfully and spend eternal life with him.

I tend to place rules on myself quite a bit. Like if I am a little more tired starting off my day of work, I might feel the need to push myself instead of easing into my day and allowing myself to "wake up" in order to do my best work. I also think Sabbathing (although I’ve gotten better) has been and continues to be a struggle for me. Mostly I think this comes from this idea that rest is a reward rather than a need. I love how in the video, the women re-frame rest as healing, repairing, refreshing and fueling. Additionally, I also love how Jesus in today’s passages describes how distorted the pharisee’s have made the commands of God. Then I think of how one of the women in the video described how she is checking where she is like the Pharisee’s. Remembering the reason behind why we follow I think is vital in staying in tune with God, and much like the woman in the video, I don’t want to get in the way of what God is doing in me.

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