The Gospel of Mark – Part 11
Jesus is Lord – Mark 2:23-3:6
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Sept. 15th, 2019
- All of Mark chapter 2 and the first part of chapter 3 are given to 5 events where the religious leaders come in conflict with Jesus. There is the healing of the paralytic, where Jesus is confronted about His authority to forgive sins; there is the calling of Levi, where Jesus is questioned about the company that He chooses; there is the teaching on fasting, where Jesus is questioned about His adherence to religious tradition.
- This morning we are looking at the last two events in this series where Jesus is confronted by the religious about His observance of the sabbath. In these two events we learn about God’s motivation and purpose for His commands and Jesus’s position and expression of God’s heart and actions.
- It is important for us to learn and understand these things so that we will be in right relationship with God and His word, and we will do the will of God with the right heart. Let’s consider our first point together.
God’s commands are beneficial
Mark 2:23-27 ESV
One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
- The Sabbath is a day that God commanded to be kept holy. It is one of the ten commandments from Exodus 20.
Ex 20:8-11 ESV
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
- According to Judaism, a “day” is from sundown to sundown and on the sixth day (Saturday – which was from Friday night to Saturday night – which has now been moved to Sunday because of the resurrection) they were to “observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.” They had a focus on not doing any “work” on that day. The Jews came up with a detailed list of 49 rules that were to be followed, including: no starting or putting out a fire, no writing or erasing, no building or tearing down, no gathering or gleaning. They even put a restriction on how many steps you could take before it was considered work. The religious police, the Pharisees, rigidly enforced these rules.
- On the Sabbath, the Pharisees saw Jesus’s disciples walking through the grain fields. As they walked, they plucked heads of grain and ate them, which in their minds was a clear violation of breaking a commandment. So they then confronted Jesus and said “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
- Jesus, in response, quoted a passage from I Samuel 21 where King David and his men broke the religious law by eating bread that only the priests were to eat (which was acceptable in God’s eyes because of the occasion and needs of the men). And then Jesus goes on and makes this statement, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” This means that the sabbath and all the commands of God were given for our benefit, not God’s.
- All of the commands He gives to us are for our good, for our benefit, because they are what is good and beneficial to us. God did not give them for His benefit, but for ours, knowing what is and will be the best for us. We don’t obey the law of God of God’s sake, but for ours. We obey them because we love and trust God, that His ways and His will are the best for us. We were not made for the rules, but the rules were made for us. They were made to serve us as we obey them.
- In this case, they were fulfilling God’s calling and mission. And in their mission, they needed strength and provision. It was right for them to gather for their strength even on the sabbath, for the sabbath was given to us for our benefit, to help us live in the light of God and His will.
- Then Jesus made another statement about His position and authority.
Jesus’ authority is greater
Mark 2:28 ESV
So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
- And Matthew recording the same event, gave even more detail:
Matt 12:5-8 ESV
Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
- Jesus is greater than any religious rules or obligations. Jesus is greater than the temple because He is Lord over all of it. He is the authority who made and upholds the rules and He is the point of the temple and the true temple.
- Jesus has the final word, always. His word and His will are to be followed above all things, even above our religious rules. This is why it is so important to understand what the word says and also the point of it. Everything that we think and do needs to be measured in and to Jesus. Do not be misled in thinking the teaching of the church has just as much authority as the teaching of the Bible. If they church is teaching something that is contrary to the word, always follow and cling to what the word truly says.
- The next event that Mark records is about the religious observance of the sabbath as well, and in it we will see what the sabbath, the Lord’s day, is truly about.
God’s day is for good
Mark 3:1-5 ESV
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
- Jesus regularly attended the synagogue (church). This is what He practiced and in following in His footsteps, we are to do the same. People do come to church with a lot of different motives – some even come to find fault in God and make accusations.
- In this account, Jesus gave us several reasons why the sabbath was given. It was given to do good; it was given to save and restore lives. It was given for our good, and it is a day to do good. These are some of the prime reasons why we gather together on Sunday. And in order to do this, we need to be connected to each other, so that we can do good to each other as we seek to honor God. Isaiah tells us to “call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable” (Isa 58:13 ESV). It is a day to do good, save lives and restore what is broken. It is to be a delight and a day to give honor.
- The religious people of that day and of our day have turned it into a religious obligation and a day to find fault and accuse people. And we have done this because our hearts are hard. This grieves God and makes Him angry.
Jesus’ heart is grieved
- Why was He grieved? Because of the hardness of their hearts. They could not rejoice in the miracle of God in the restoration of a withered hand. They were more concerned about their religious rules than they were in the work of God to change lives for the good. The hardness of our hearts toward God’s work in the restoration of the brokenness of the world is grievous to Jesus. And it makes Him angry. Jesus still did His work of restoration, still did what was right and good and in so doing revealed the hearts of people.
- So a question for all of us, where are you in relation to the Lord’s day and the gathering of the church? Are you here to honor God and do good, or for some other reason? How do you respond to people of the church and God’s goodness to them? God, please grant us a heart that is humble and soft towards you and your work. God, help us to follow in your footsteps in the things that are given to us and for us.
- Because of the spreading fame of Jesus and how He had exposed them publicly for who and what they were, the Pharisees decided to kill Him.
Mark 3:6 ESV
The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
- This pattern continues to this day. Those whose hearts are hard toward God want to destroy Jesus and those who are following after Him.
- Remember that God’s commands are for our good and for our benefit. Your life will be benefited by following the commands of God. Commit yourself to doing so, and commit in changing your actions to line up with His word.
- Always line up your beliefs and actions according to the authoritative word of God. Jesus is the Lord and His word is final.
- Make coming to the house of the Lord priority and weekly practice to honor God and to do good. Come to the house of God with a heart that is in a right place.