Read Mark 2:23–28

[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.” Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

ReflectHow did Jesus reject legalism?

The Pharisees appear to be upset and maybe confused. On the one hand, some of the things that Jesus does and says are characteristics you would expect of someone who comes from God (John 3:2). On the other hand, he doesn’t do the accepted “religious” things, like fasting (as we saw yesterday); and in this passage, he does things which violate their religious rules and regulations (24). The Jewish Law allowed people to eat grain they could collect in their hands from the fields; it was gathering grain on the Sabbath that was the problem (which for the Pharisees constituted work). Once again, Jesus answers the Pharisees’ criticism (25,26) and then goes on to declare the nature of the reign he’s establishing (27). Richard Shaull, the missionary theologian, suggests that these are the most revolutionary words Jesus said, for they challenge the heart of every political system. He believes Jesus is declaring that the function of social structures and institutions is to serve people, and (referring to the passage we read yesterday) if they don’t serve people they need to be changed so that they fulfill their function. I agree with him!

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Think with other Christians about how you might work to change church culture to liberate people to travel with God more easily.