Today we’re going to be jumping back into the second chapter of Mark, picking it up in verse 23. As we get into Mark 2 starting in verse 23, let’s get a little recap of what we’ve been talking about.
Now in the two chapters that we've covered so far in Mark’s book, we've talked about how there are two main points that he is bringing up. First, Jesus is God, which we’ve seen on multiple occasions. From John’s proclamation, to Jesus’ encounter with a demon. Mark is trying to help us understand that Jesus is not just a run of the mill human, but rather God on earth. The second point that Mark emphasizes, is that everything Jesus does, he does for our benefit. So that we have an example to follow. It doesn’t matter if it’s how we are to follow in his steps to be baptized, or if it’s how we are to view the use of the material things that God has given us, such as a building. Jesus’ life is meant to show us how we are to follow him.
But here’s the thing, there’s another point that Mark has brought up that we haven’t spent too much time on. This point was first made back in chapter 1 verses 21-34. We had talked about how these verses help us to understand Jesus authority. These verses taught us how Jesus had authority over the Scriptures through his teaching, over the physical world by his ability to heal every disease, and over the spiritual world by his ability to silence and cast out the demon.
And as we go through Mark 2:23 thru chapter 3 verse 6 today, we’ll see how, these three points are brought up. So if you have you’re Bible we’ll be starting in verse 23 of Mark chapter 2.
2:23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
3:1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
So Mark is giving us two distinct situations that dealt with the same theme, in the same context. First off, what is the context in which both of these situations take place? In both situations it’s the Sabbath. Now we’ll get more into the Sabbath later, but for now, let’s just understand that the Sabbath is the last day of the week, where no one was allowed to go to work. Instead they were to rest from work and worship God. This was actually set down as law by God in Exodus 31 and 34. So in other words, both these situations are happening on Saturday when everyone’s supposed to be resting.
Now, let’s compare the two: First we have Jesus and his disciples walking through a field, it’s probably somewhere between mid-May to mid-July, which is the harvest season in the Middle East. And as the group walks through the area, they’re picking the heads of grain, crushing them and eating them. Now from the Pharisees perspective Jesus’ disciples are breaking the law of the Sabbath. Now breaking the law of the Sabbath wasn’t a small thing. In Exodus 31:14-15 says this, “14 ‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. 15 For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.’”
That’s pretty strong language. Breaking the Sabbath means death. And so, to the Pharisees this is not a small infraction. But Jesus takes it in stride and brings up a story about King David which is found in the book of 1st Samuel chapters 21 and 22. The story goes that, David was fleeing for his life from the Israelite King, Saul. David goes to the town of Nob to seek guidance from God. While there he and his companions need food. The priest told him that the only food they had was consecrated bread. Meaning, bread that had been offered up to God and was only to be eaten by the priests. We find out later in 1st Samuel chapter 22 , that the priest, after hearing David’s request for food, and knowing that the only food on hand was the consecrated bread, ask God if he should give it to David and his men. God approved and the bread was given to David.
Now the question should be, why does Jesus bring up this story? And the answer is, because it shows that there’s a disconnect in the Pharisees thinking. See the Pharisees based everything they did on a strict interpretation of God’s law. To the point where they would add rules to God’s law to make it more strict. Case in point: There were about 39 additions to the Sabbath law that the Pharisees lived by. Things like: Not being able to weave, extinguishing a fire, starting a fire, transporting an item from a private home to a public area, and writing or erasing two or more letters. These additions can be found in the Mishnah Tractate Shabbat 7:2. None of which is in the Torah, the Law of God.
The second situation sees Jesus in a synagogue, so basically like we are now in the church building, with a bunch of people, one of which has a deformed hand. Jesus takes this opportunity to press the Pharisees on their traditional stance of the Sabbath. Jesus requests that the person with the deformed hand stand up in the middle of everyone, and then directs a question towards the Pharisees, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”
Now, let’s put this in perspective of what the Pharisees held to. With those 39 additions that were put on to the Sabbath, one of the exceptions was that a person, who’s life was endanger, could be saved. But other than that, nothing should be done. So Jesus is basically asking them, is it wrong to heal this man? To do good for someone on the day that God says to keep holy? And then Jesus heals the man.
So we have two situations, both happening on the Sabbath, and to which Jesus challenges the way in which the Pharisees deal with God’s day of rest. The Pharisees want to add to the day, to make it as strict as possible. And Jesus challenges them on it. And why does he do that? Because as Jesus himself says in verse 27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
God intended the Sabbath for a purpose, so that we wouldn’t burn out. Now this isn’t about the Sabbath. This section isn’t about when the Sabbath is, or how to keep it, but rather, the point of this section is all about how we add to what God says. God designed the Sabbath to be a day for humanity to recuperate both physically and spiritually. In Exodus 34:21, God says, “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.”
It’s about taking a break, not becoming a work alcoholic, but instead having our strength renewed both in our physical lives, and in our spiritual lives. God made the Sabbath so that humanity wouldn’t destroy themselves with work. But the Pharisees were now trying to enslave people to the idea of the Sabbath, when, in reality, the Sabbath was to be a freeing time. A day free from the stress of work and labor. Free to enjoy and to do good. Hence why Jesus asks the question, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”
He’s asking, is the Sabbath meant to bring out good in life, or bad? And the answer is, good. In other words, when we take God at his word, not adding to or taking away from it, his word is always is meant to be for our good.
But the Pharisees didn’t understand, because on that Sabbath day, they decided to do evil. On that Sabbath day they decided to kill. In verse 6 it says, “Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”
When we decide to manipulate God’s word, to add or to take away from it, we become the thing that we try to avoid. We become the one that does not understand who God is, because we try and make ourselves god.
But how do we manipulate God’s word? What are some of the things that we might be doing today that adds to God’s word rather than letting it speak for itself?
Have you heard what happened on August 11-12 of 2017, in Charlottesville Virgin? If you haven’t heard, then you must be living in a cave because it was all over the news. There was a rally where protesters, Neo-Nazis, and White supremacists, clashed with an anti-government, anti-fascist group called ANTIFA. In the aftermath, there have been a lot of different shows covering different kinds of groups that support white supremacy. One of those shows was from Univsion, who’s reporter, a lady named Llia Calderon, interviewed a KKK member. In the interview she asked the man “What would you call yourselves.” He responded with, a Christian group, a group that follows what the Bible teaches and then gave the verse Leviticus 19:18. He quoted it as saying this, “Love thy neighbor of thy people. My people are white. Your people are black. I am what I am, you are what you are.”
Now, I know that the media is notorious for taking quotes out of context. But if this is indeed the correct quote, then he has changed the word to fit what he wants. Here is Leviticus 19:18 from the King James Version, “18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.” Taking it in it’s original context the “thy people” that are mentioned, is the nation of Israel. You and I cannot use it to say anything else. But you know who did add to it? Who did interpret it? Jesus. In the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. A Samaritan was a person despised by the Jews, yet he was the one who was the neighbor who helped out the Jewish traveler. Jesus’ teachings expands Leviticus’ neighbor to everyone. The one that is like us, and the one that is not.
This KKK guy that was being interviewed, twisted God’s word and disregarded Jesus’ teaching, and by doing so turned it into something that it was not intended to say. But we can do it too. When we require people to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, interpret secondary doctrines a certain way. When we do things like this, we add to God’s word things that are not there. I’ve told this story before. At the first church I ever volunteered at, they asked Marika and I to teach the teens. As we met, God blessed it and the group grew, and all we did was read through the book of Luke and ask questions. When we decided to begin outreach, the Pastor asked to meet with Marika and I, and told us we were not going to do any outreach, because people need to look like us, before they could join us. We left the church, because that’s nowhere in Scripture.
We’ve been been working our way through Mark for 10 weeks, and as we have been doing this we have talked about three points Mark is making. Jesus is God, Jesus is our example, and Jesus has authority.
In verse 28 of this passage we see all three points that we have been reviewing so far. Jesus says “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” He is God, because he fully understands why the Sabbath was created, because he himself created and is the Lord of it.
Jesus says “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” He is our example, because he strips away what is unnecessary and says, to follow what is required of us.
Jesus says “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” He has authority to lead us, because he is the Lord of all.
If anyone is going to tell us what Scripture means it’s Jesus, because he wrote it.
Here is my challenge today, pour yourself a tall glass of water. With all the liquids we drink there are a lot of additives. Especially with things that soda. Now I love Pepsi, as a lot of you know. And the reason is, is because I think it tastes wonderful, but I’ll be honest it’s not good for me. All those additives that turn water into the gloriousness that is Pepsi, actually are not good for my health. But you know what is always good for you, clean water. Water that has no pollutants in it. No additives. In fact, I was just listening to a guy who's an athletic trainer and his big thing is to cut all types of liquids out of your diet and just drink water. Now I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but slowly I’ve been trying to cut out Pepsi. We all have our cross to bear, and I guess this is mine.
So the challenge is this, take several drinks of that glass of water, and pray. If you want to commit to seeking God to cut the traditions that you might have, out of your life that try to add to his word. If you want to have God’s word be unpolluted by personal expectations or human additives, then pray that with every drink of water, God would make his word pure in your life. Only allowing Jesus to interpret his word, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now may the God who seeks to purify us, start by purifying his word in our lives. That we would live by what he has approved, and not by our own additives. Amen.