June 3, 2018
One sabbath he was going through the grain fields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 2:23-3:6)
We’re back in Capernaum, or almost there. Jesus and his disciples are on their way to church on the Sabbath, and the disciples are hungry. So they pick grain as they walk through a wheat field, and eat it on their way to synagogue. Apparently, the Pharisees use this same route to church, because they are right there, asking Jesus why he lets his followers break Sabbath laws. Jesus tells them a story they already know, but as he does, he likens himself to David – claiming a kind of kingly authority that comes only from God.
In effect, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Don’t get so bound up in your rules that they become your purpose for living. Let Sabbath do its job, which is to provide rest and refreshment, and an opportunity for worship and study. God gave the Sabbath for your benefit. God didn’t create you for the sake of the Sabbath. Continue reading