The Maker’s Intention
Merciful Lord, I praise You for Your boundless blessing and mercy. Today, deepen and expand my devotion to You.
Read Mark 2:23-3:6
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.
“There are too many people who spend their days going from one task to another. It is time to enter training for another way to live. We must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives” (John Ortberg).
A worker was recently prosecuted by his local county for smoking a cigarette in his own van. The van, they ruled, was a place of work, so smoking was against the law. There are parallels between this apparently mindless interpretation of the law and today’s story of the Pharisees in the cornfields finding fault with the disciples for allegedly “reaping” on the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was a good gift of God, “made for people” (27), but the “tradition of the elders” (7:5) had turned it into a law specifying 39 categories of “work,” each in turn broken down into six sub-categories. The results could be either petty or cruel, as the two stories before us today make plain. The intention was to build a fence round the law to guard against any unintentional infringement, and the law itself was seen as a fence provided by God to keep his people distinct from the other nations. The fence that kept the chosen people in, however, became in time a barrier that kept everyone else out. Now Jesus has come as the Son of Man announcing the kingdom of God, in which actions will be judged right or wrong by whether they enrich human life and meet human need. God, through his Spirit, will refine our understanding of what constitutes fullness of life and what it is that humans really need.
It is easy for us to sit in judgment on the Pharisees for what seems, to us, to be willful blindness to the obvious. We forget that not so long ago evangelical Christians were behaving in very similar ways. We, too, must be careful not to use God’s law to drain rather than enrich human life.
In what ways might you use a Sabbath day of rest to save lives and do good to others?
Forgive me, Lord, that I often have so little time for You. Show me how to best honor the Sabbath. Help me to be intentional in creating space for You.
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