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.”
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!