Living By the Rules
Gracious Lord, may Your changeless love and mercy give me the courage to change what needs changing in my life.
Read Mark 2:23-28
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.
“We need regular opportunity to review those guiding principles by which we live our lives. Are they life-giving stimuli to new departures and discoveries in our spiritual lives?” (Donald English).
Sabbath-keeping was more important in Judaism than fasting. While briefer than other versions (Matt. 12:1-8; Luke 6:1-5), Mark’s account indicates the escalation of the conflict with the religious authorities. Jesus’ response is a direct threat to their power. He takes the rules the Pharisees hold dear and points beyond them to the spirit of what is meant, and how that affects their implementation.
The Pharisees despised the common people, who, ignorant of the law, were cursed (John 7:49). And here was a group of them, disciples of Jesus, demonstrating their ignorance by breaking the Sabbath law. The charge was that they were working (harvesting) on the Sabbath by pulling off ripe ears of corn and husking them between their palms (Luke 6:1). This was the third out of 39 forbidden Sabbath work activities based on Exodus 34:21. Jesus doesn’t defend breaking the Sabbath but rather suggests there is a more important principle at stake: the law of need taking precedence over ritual law (1 Sam. 21:1-6). To make matters worse, he not only reminds them of who the Sabbath is for, but justifies his teaching by claiming to be the Son of Man with the authority to overrule the Sabbath requirements.
Adhering to externally made rules doesn’t sit comfortably with postmodern thinking and practice. An individual’s experience and opinions are the more likely reference point for behavior. Accordingly, growing numbers of people are reacting against the “ought to” statements heard in our churches. It is easy for leaders just to shout louder in an attempt to maintain the practices and rituals that give shape to our spiritual life. What is really needed is for Christians of all ages to be equipped to think and behave in a Christ-like way, applying timeless biblical principles in today’s context.
Pray for those who preach, teach, and lead others–for their inspiration and ability to equip people to live as whole-life disciples in today’s world.
Father, I need constantly to remember that people matter more than things. Move me to truly serve others in Your name.
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