Obey to Live
Today, Lord, I am here to let You speak. May this take place at this time. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Read Mark 2:23–28
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.
This kind of Sabbath-breaking is not an act of casual or wanton civil disobedience, but a sign that the King is here, and his kingdom is breaking through.
Jesus has told John’s disciples and the Pharisees that they need to listen to his teaching and live it out. He teaches a new way and they need to change. Today we see this difference between them turning into a division.
The disciples are plucking corn to make a way (23)—not necessarily to eat. The Torah bans harvesting on the Sabbath (Exod. 34:21), but not plucking odd bits of corn—though this was banned in later rabbinic tradition and probably the Pharisees had a similar interpretation. Pharisees regularly added commands to the Torah to update it or to give clarity on how to obey laws where they seemed to clash or to be impractical. They saw these extra instructions as Law, but Jesus did not.
Jesus tells the story of when David ate the bread of the presence from the Temple, which (probably; the Torah is not clear) only priests should eat (Lev. 24:5–9). Jesus argues that if David could eat that bread, why should his disciples be disciplined for plucking corn on the Sabbath—which is not even mentioned in the Torah? He chides the Pharisees for misunderstanding the nature and purpose of the Torah—the Sabbath was made for people and not the other way around.
Adding to the commands of Jesus is easily done—and often from the best of motives. Christian books and talks are full of guidelines about alcohol, romance and sex, lifestyle, self-help, parenting and the like. We need to distinguish between the teaching of Jesus and what is simply the wisdom or experience of fellow Christians, so that what was once said or written to help people grow in faith does not become a burden that prevents people from growing.
Jesus teaches obedience so that we may flourish. Is this our attitude and experience? What might we ask of Jesus so that his commands do make us flourish?
Lord Jesus, often man-made rules or church institutions hurt people. Grant me discernment to know the difference between Your teaching and what I impose on it.