Lord of the Sabbath

Mark 2:23-28

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:1-8; Luke 6:1-5

Mark has shifted the scene to the countryside. Jesus and the disciples, and apparently some Pharisees, are walking through grain fields on the Sabbath. They are hungry and the disciples pluck a few heads of grain to eat as they go along, and the Pharisees object, for it is unlawful to harvest a field on the Sabbath. The law on this point is contained in Exodus 20:10 if you’d like to read it just to bring in a little context. By the way, if you do look it up, you will notice that the law doesn’t say this. It says you shall do no work. Were the disciples actually working? Well, that is the real question.

As the years went by, it became apparent that Exodus 20:10 was subject to interpretation, and many well-intentioned leaders believed that there was a great potential for misunderstanding Exodus 20:10, so they adopted a very long list of additional rules to help people avoid an unintentional violation of the Sabbath. This list of rules is not actually part of the law, but as more time went by, it was treated as if it were the law itself; this is what the Pharisees were actually referring to.

In verses 25-26, Jesus cites a well-known example of David feeding his men food reserved by the law for the exclusive use of the priests when necessity required it, with the implication that necessity required the disciples’ actions that the Pharisees were objecting to. He concludes His answer in the following verses:

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27-28

I wish I could have been there to see the look on the faces of those poor Pharisees when they heard that!

As you know, there are those critics out there who claim that Jesus never said He was divine. Even if that were true, He sure implied it strongly on many occasions, and this is another of those.  If the Sabbath was made for man, and that makes the Son of Man the lord over the Sabbath, then it is because He’s also the Lord over Man.

Yep, there’s another report back to HQ I wish I could read!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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11 Responses to Lord of the Sabbath

  1. What in your view is the Christian’s godly response to the continuing concept of “Sabbath” here in the era of grace?

    • Don Merritt says:

      Interesting question.. For me, I think of the context of Hebrews 3:1-4:13, and the overall message of Hebrews, and come away with the view that since the Law and its observances are things that foreshadow the reality of Christ, that what is foreshadowed is eternity with Christ. With this being the case, the observance of a day is rendered obsolete.

      • So the Catholic doctrine of the validity of the Lord’s Day as a commandment issue, as well as the Adventist perspective of the eternal nature of the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 would be negated?

        • Don Merritt says:

          Nice one David…

          I’ll only comment on my views, and never on denominational doctrine.

          In my view, Jesus taught on the moral part of the Law, including the 10 commandments, but not in a context of ordinance – violation – condemnation/atonement. Jesus actually kicked them up a notch and taught that the motivations of the heart were the issue, not just the physical acting-out, with a new context of love and grace. He did so with 9 of the 10 commandments, but not with the Sabbath. The sign of the Old Covenant was keeping Sabbath, the Old Covenant was fulfilled by Jesus and replaced with a superior covenant based upon a superior sacrifice with superior promises. The old rituals and observances that were illustrations of the reality to come became obsolete when the reality was complete. That David, is my view, and how others view it is up to them.

  2. trotter387 says:

    It is interesting that Jesus chooses to reveal something about himself here that obviously the Pharisees did not understand.

    There attention to the rule and not the principle meant they had missed the purpose of the law – as Paul described it a teacher pointing to Christ.

    Jesus good works on the Sabbath indicated that his father had stopped working in a specific way however he had ensured that humanity continued to benefit from his provisions. As the Lord of the Sabbath he demonstrated the healing and restorative power that comes with the role described at Isaiah 9: 6 where the prophesy about the Christ as a wonderful counsellor, Prince of Peace and Mighty God indicate just how we benefit from the reconciliation.

    His acts of healing and the disciples act of plucking grain indicated what would be achieved by his ruler ship in the future.

    Today we can experience similar issues where there are those who are critical of minutia and miss the point of the provision for humankinds salvation.

    Sadly as you expressed in an earlier post the Pharisees had become bigoted, their self righteousness had clouded their view.

    Mark may well have known Mary the Mother of Jesus really well and heard these points from her so we can see that for three Gospel Writers to use the phrase Lord of the Sabbath the incident stood out and there is much for us to learn from it.

    Again an interesting commentary and insight

  3. Pingback: Lord of the Sabbath | A disciple's study

  4. Thank you Don. I plan to use some of your points on an up and coming post! Thank you for the insight!

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