Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath

But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat, except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?” And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
Mark 2: 25-28

Critics. We all have to deal with them. But it isn't often that the critics you and I have to deal with are out to trap us and do us harm. But that is exactly what is going on here.

Consider this story in light of much of the debate going on in society and in the evangelical church about the Emergent movement and social justice as it relates to theology.  And Jesus gives us a little insight into how He views the topic of being a Christian and social responsibilities.

Jesus is being criticized for allowing his disciples to pluck a little corn or grain as they walk through a field.  Oh, and by the way, it is on the Jewish Sabbath.  Oh my!

There was nothing wrong with what the disciples did, because their gleaning was not considered stealing according to Deuteronomy 23:25. The issue was only the day on which they did it. The Rabbis made an elaborate list of “do” and “don’t” items relevant to the Sabbath, and this violated one of the items on this list.

When the disciples began to pluck the heads of grain, in the eyes of the religious leaders they were guilty of:
  • Reaping.
  • Threshing.
  • Winnowing.
  • Preparing food.
Four violations of the Sabbath in one swift motion of the hand to mouth!

Jesus responds with 2 principles.

He says, "Have you never read what David did?": In referring to David’s use of the “holy bread” in 1 Samuel 21:1-6, Jesus shows an important principle - Human need is more important than religious ritual. And the second principle is that the Sabbath was meant to serve man and not the other way around.

This is exactly what many people, steeped in tradition, simply cannot comprehend. They cannot comprehend that what God really wants is mercy before sacrifice (Go look up Hosea 6:6) and that love to others is more important than religious rituals. And that the sacrifices that God is really looking for is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart. 

Contrast these principle with the Old Testament principle that God prohibited work on the Sabbath day so that servants would not be oppressed by their masters, and that the laboring beasts of burden might have necessary rest, and that men might have proper opportunity to attend to their own Spiritual rest and growth. Clearly this was not the situation at hand.

So, what is it there for?

I think it is there for the the second principle. The second principle is even more dramatic - Jesus declares that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. And, if He, the very Lord of the Sabbath, was not offended by His disciple’s actions, then these sideline critics should not have been either.

And out of a truly broken and contrite will come all the stuff that the Emergents and social justice crowd is looking to see manifested in the church today.

So take that, critics!

Photo licensed under the following terms:

No comments:

Post a Comment