Good Law, Bad Attitude?
Wise and Good Lord, may the light of Your Word shine its truth into my heart as I read it now.
Read Mark 2:23-3:6
 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”  He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  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.”  Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.  Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”  Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat principles do you learn here about the Sabbath?
These two stories show Jesus’ attitude to the law—and what made him angry.
God’s law is perfect and Jesus came to fulfill it. God’s laws were created to protect and help his people, but Israel’s religious leaders had burdened the law with such a great weight of tradition that God’s intentions had been virtually squashed.
The Sabbath was a key concept in the life of God’s people from early in their history. It was to be a day set apart for God and a day of rest—the original “holy day.” Jesus always kept to these key principles, pointing out that they existed for humankind’s benefit.
But he was also quick to respond to the needs of the people around him. He didn’t use the law as an excuse to do nothing. If someone is hungry or needs our help, is our instinct to try and meet their need? Or do we look for reasons why it would be “wrong” for us to get involved? What made Jesus furious was the stubborn, legalistic attitude shown by the religious leaders. They’d lost sight of the reasons for having a Sabbath in the first place. All they wanted to do was catch Jesus out on a technicality.
Ponder your attitude toward and practice of the Sabbath. How does it reflect Jesus’ attitude and practice? Should you change?
Lord Jesus, keep me free from deadly legalism or from misusing my faith to avoid doing right. May I honor You as I honor the Sabbath.
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