Lesson 11

The Gospel According to Mark

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

2:23 It happened that he was going on the Sabbath day through the grain fields, and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of grain. 2:24 The Pharisees said to him, "Behold, why do they do that which is not lawful on the Sabbath day?"

2:25 He said to them, "Did you never read what David did, when he had need, and was hungry - he, and they who were with him? 2:26 How he entered into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the show bread, which it is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and gave also to those who were with him?" 2:27 He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 2:28 Therefore the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."

Today's Lesson 

Mark has progressed as he has written his stories about Jesus. He began by writing about the power that Jesus exercised to cure disease and to cast out demons. He has written a story about how Jesus claimed to have the power to forgive sin. In Yesterday's lesson, we saw how Jesus claimed a whole new way of approaching God. He was the new wine that should not be placed in old wineskins. He was the bridegroom who had come to claim His bride. In Today's Scripture, Jesus takes on two separate claims. He is the Son of Man and He is Lord of the Sabbath.


Mark's timeline becomes disjointed at this point. There is no claim, nor does it make sense, that the events of this story directly follow what has gone before. We are simply told that at some point this even happened. Jesus and the disciples were walking in the countryside and it happened to be on the Sabbath day. There were a group of Pharisees that were with Him. This is not unusual. For most of His ministry, the Pharisees had a group watching Jesus. The relationship of the Pharisees and Jesus is an interesting one. They were not directly enemies as some conclude. There were many Pharisees that believed in Jesus. But, it is true that officially, the Pharisees as a group tended to be skeptical of the teachings of Christ.


As the disciples of Jesus were walking along through the grain fields, they began to pluck the ears of grain. We are not told whether they were gathering the grain for an evening meal or if they were eating the grain as they went through, as some are prone to do. What we do know is that what the disciples were doing was technically a violation of the rules against working on the Sabbath. God, through Moses, had declared that man should not work on the Sabbath. Man, through rabbinical teachings and tradition, had defined exactly what work meant in any number of varied situations. It was work to carry the tools of one's trade on the Sabbath, even if they were not used. It was work to walk more than a prescribed distance on the Sabbath. It was work to spit in dirt on the Sabbath because doing so would create mud and the creation of mud was considered work. Or, in the specific case of what the disciples were doing, it was considered work to gather, buy, cook or prepare food on the Sabbath. Jewish families of Jesus' day would prepare food on the day before the Sabbath that would be consumed on the day of the Sabbath.


In answer to the disciples, Jesus uses an example from the Old Testament. The story is told in 1 Samuel chapter 21. David was fleeing from Saul. Under unusual circumstances, David and all of his men are given the consecrated showbread to eat. Jesus uses this example to show that under certain circumstances, rules that would normally apply can be waved. In the case of David, the need of the men and the fact that David was God's anointed made the eating of the show bread acceptable.


Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." In yesterday's lesson, we saw that Jesus claimed that His disciples should not fast because He was the bridegroom and the time was for feasting, not fasting. Now He makes the claim that He is lord over the Sabbath and the needs of His men and the needs of His ministry take precedent over the Sabbath regulations.


And, He takes for Himself another title in this passage. We will discuss this title more thoroughly in future lessons, but it should be noted that in this passage we have the first occasion where Jesus applied to Himself the title of "Son of Man." This title is a clear reference to a messianic figure spoken of in the Old Testament prophet of Daniel and would have been a significant title to be used by Jesus.


Are you worshipping manmade rules instead of the Lord. Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. Does He exercise authority over all that you are and all that you do?


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