29 Jan. Mark 2:23-27

29 Jan. The Sabbath is a special day for our benefit

"One Sabbath day, as Jesus was walking through some fields of grain, his followers began to pick some grain to eat."

"The Pharisees said to Jesus, 'Why are your followers doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath day?'"

"Jesus answered, 'Have you never read what David did when he and those with him were hungry and needed food? During the time of Abiathar the high priest, David went into God's house and ate the holy bread, which is lawful for only priests to eat. And David also gave some of the bread to those who were with him."

"Then Jesus said to the Pharisees, 'The Sabbath day was made to help people; they were not made to be ruled by the Sabbath day. So then, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.'"

          (Mark 2:23-27)



In today's Bible passage, Jesus's disciples picked ears of grain from a field on the Sabbath – just before the wheat harvest in early May – to the consternation of the Pharisees who believed he was breaking the Jewish Sabbath laws.

In Deuteronomy 23:25, the Jewish scriptures say, 'If you go into your neighbour's grain field, you may pick grain with your hands, but you must not cut down your neighbour's grain with your sickle.' So Jesus and his followers were not doing anything unusual - except that it was on the Sabbath day (Friday sundown until Saturday evening).

In Exodus 34:21, the Jewish law laid down that, 'You must work for six days, but on the seventh day you must rest - even during the planting season and the harvesting season.'

The Pharisees had developed elaborate rules laying down many trivial activities that might be regarded as 'work', and in their eyes, this included picking grain with your hands as you walked through a field. So they accused Jesus and his followers of 'breaking the Sabbath laws'.

Jesus replied that even the great Jewish king David had ignored the Jewish laws when he and his men were on the run from King Saul, and they ate the consecrated ‘shewbread’ that only the priests were allowed to eat (see Leviticus 24:8-9).

In 1 Samuel 21:1-15, David had fled to the sanctuary at Nob, where he asked Ahimelech the priest for some food. As there was no ordinary bread available, Ahimelech gave David and his men the consecrated ‘shewbread’ to eat. (The ‘shewbread’ was a daily display of twelve newly-baked loaves, showing God’s bountiful provision of the staple food of the Israelites.)

Jesus was making the point that, even the great King David had ignored the Sabbath laws when he needed food for his followers. Jesus added, “The Sabbath day was made to help people; they were not made to be ruled by the Sabbath day” (Mark 2:27).

Everyone needs a day of rest to recover from a week's work. That's the whole point of God's provision of a 'Sabbath' - a special day put aside to relax, enjoy time with our families and friends, and thank God for all his generous gifts to us.

But it was never intended to be a day of petty rules and regulations like those imposed by the Pharisees and by 'orthodox' Jews today.

Jesus's words are just as true today as they were two thousand years ago: "The Sabbath day was made to HELP people; people were not made to be ruled by the Sabbath".

The photo (by Bluemoose) shows ripe heads of wheat ready for harvesting.

You can read more about David's visit to the sanctuary at Nob @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/saul-becomes-jealous-of-…/

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