Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath-Mark 2:23-3:6

Last Sunday morning in our journey through the Gospel according to Mark, our passage was Mark 2:18-22 in the message entitled: From Fasting To Feasting. As we studied the passage together, we quickly saw 2 different groups of men doing The Right Things For The Wrong Reasons. And we watched as Jesus answered questions regarding fasting in 2 different ways. One way for the disciples of John the Baptist in the form of The Parable of The Bridegroom. And another way for the Pharisees in the form of 2 parables, The Parable of the Old Cloth and The New Patch and The Parable of the Old Wineskin and the New Wine. In both instances He used parables that would have been easily understood by all those present that day. The point of the 3 parables was that Jesus came for the purpose of transforming all those who call upon His name. Not to transform based on following a system of religious do’s and don’ts, rules and regulations, dotting every religious “I” and crossing every religious “T”. But to transform from the inside out as He Himself, through the Holy Spirit of God is poured into believers like new wine into a new wineskins. While the new wine of Holy Spirit stretches believers, Jesus strengthens these New Creations and the end result is the transformed life of the bride of Christ.
That brings us to our passage this morning.
“Let’s open the Word of God to the second chapter of the gospel of Mark, as we continue our wonderful spiritual adventure, living, as it were, with our Lord Jesus Christ, being with Him as if we were among His disciples, experiencing the things that they experienced through the eyes of Mark. This morning we will be looking at 2:23- chapter 3:6.
Each of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is intended to present to us not only the events of the life of Jesus but the reality of His identity. It is not merely a story of a man and His activities, it’s a story of the God-man and His ministry and His purpose.
Each of the gospel writers, all four of them, is concerned that we understand who Jesus Christ is, the ringing and repeated messages that He is God in human flesh. There’s no mistaking that in the gospel of Mark.
In chapter 1 in verse 1, He is introduced to us as Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In chapter 1 in verse 3, He is identified as the Lord.
In chapter 1 verses 7 and 8, He is described as the coming One who is mightier than John the Baptist, and of Him, John says, “I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.”
In that same text, He is identified as the one who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
In chapter 1 in verse 11, God the Father calls Him, “My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
In chapter 1 in verse 14, He is the preacher of the gospel of God. He is the Kingdom offeror who presents the Kingdom of salvation to all who repent and believe.
In chapter 1 verse 24, even the demons weigh in on His identity, referring to Him as the Holy One of God.
It is clear already from these opening two chapters that the Holy One of God, the Son of God, the Lord, is the one who:
Has power and authority over demons
Power and authority over temptation
Power and authority over Satan.
Power and authority over disease.
And even power and authority to forgive sin.
How important this is if He is to be the Savior that He be able to overpower all the effects of fallenness in the world, overpowering Satan, overpowering demons, overpowering disease, even overpowering death and overpowering sin.
And so, Mark has unmistakably identified Him as God in human flesh, the true Savior and Redeemer. In our text this morning, He is identified by another title. It comes in verse 28, “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” ( MacArthur, J. (2015). Mark 1–8 (p. 141). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.)
With this as an introduction, would you please stand for the reading of God’s Word.
Next Slide
Mark 2:23–3:6 ESV
23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And 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.” 1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
Please be seated:
As I was thinking about the relationship of the Pharisees and Jesus this week, it dawned on me that in some ways they prepared us for what we see in society today. It seems to me that to a large degree today, you can’t just agree to disagree. Instead those with whom you don’t agree with become your enemies. Whether it’s in politics, religion, racial issues, sexuality and marriage, there is no discussion, just hatred being spewed at those with differing viewpoints. That was the relationship the Pharisees had with Jesus. Disagreeing wasn’t enough for the Pharisees, they had to go onto the attack, to seek to destroy. When they asked questions of Jesus, it wasn’t because they were looking for an answer, they were looking to constantly challenge Him and sought to make Him look foolish, something they never successfully accomplished. As we continue through the Gospel of Mark, I want you to always notice the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees and the way they dealt with each other.
The first thing we see in this mornings passage is: Next Slide
The Hypocritical Allegation. Mark 2:24; Matt. 12:2; Luke 6:2
In this mornings passage, Jesus and His disciples were walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. One thing to keep in mind when you look at the Sabbath encounters Jesus had with the religious leaders of the day, is the fact that the Sabbath observance was the heart of the Jewish legalistic system established by religious leaders. It was their cornerstone. Anytime Jesus violated the traditions they had established for the Sabbath, it struck a raw nerve with them. In the Old Testament, there was really only one command in regards to the Sabbath, that Law was that they were not permitted to work, but the religious leaders had heaped their own traditions on top of that one law. In fact the Talmud has 24 chapters of Sabbath Day rules and one Jewish rabbi bragged that he spent 2 1/2 years studying just 1 chapter of those rules. For example you couldn’t travel more than 3,000 feet on the Sabbath. No burden could be carried that weighed more than a dried fig, or half a fig carried two times. Women couldn’t wear jewelry because jewelry weighs more than a dried fig. It goes on and on. Laws about wine, honey, milk, spitting, writing, getting dirt off your clothes. You could use only enough ink for two letters. Not two written letters, two alphabetic letters. You could not bathe for fear when the water fell off of you it might wash the floor.
So, here Jesus and His disciples were walking through some grain fields on the Sabbath and some hunger pains hit. In ancient Israel it was normal for pathways to crisscross through fields and since roads were scarce, travelers would often times use these paths. With this in mind, God had literally made provisions for the people. In Deuteronomy 23:25 we see that the Law of Moses permitted a traveler pluck heads of grain by hand while walking through the fields. They were not permitted to use a sickle, because that would constitute harvesting, but they were allowed to pick small amounts of grain by hand for the purpose of sustenance. This is exactly what Jesus Disciples were doing on this Sabbath day. This greatly angered the Pharisees. Because it went against their established traditions. We see them questioning Jesus in Mark 2:24 where we read: Next Slide
Mark 2:24 ESV
24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
As we just looked at, Jesus and His disciples had not violated the Law of Moses in any way, but the Pharisees had elevated their man made traditions above the very Word of God.
“By rabbinic standards, the disciples were guilty of several forbidden actions: reaping (by picking the grain), sifting (by removing the husks and shell), threshing (by rubbing the heads of grain), winnowing (by throwing the chaff in the air), and preparing a meal (by eating the grain after they had cleaned it). None of those activities were permitted on the Sabbath. “MacArthur, J. (2015). Mark 1–8 (p. 143). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
These Pharisees were more concerned with their man made laws than they were with the well being of the disciples, or anyone else for that matter, which we will see when we move into another Sabbath Day encounter in chapter 3.
The Title of the current point we are on in this mornings message is: Next Slide
The Hypocritical Allegation.
You may be wondering what is hypocritical about their allegation, I mean based on what we see here, the Pharisees weren’t picking and eating grain. While that may be true, they were most certainly violating at least one other Sabbath Day tradition they had set up. Remember, their law stated that you were not permitted to walk more than 3,000 feet on the Sabbath. Yet here they were following behind Jesus step by step on the Sabbath. Clearly everyone present had walked more than 3,000 feet that day, yet the Pharisees conveniently fail to mention that in their allegation. Had they mentioned that violation, they would have been forced to acknowledge that they themselves were also violating their man made traditions.
Moving forward we see Jesus response in Mark 2:25-26 where we see: Next Slide
The Pharisee Eyes Opened To Their Own Scriptural Blindness. Mark 2:25-26; Matt. 12:3-4; Luke 6:3-4
The Pharisees prided themselves in their knowledge of the Old Testament. But their problem was that while they knew the facts of the stories, they were ignorant to the true meaning of Scripture. The had a head knowledge, but they didn’t have a heart knowledge. So, in verse 25 when Jesus said “Have you never read” it was a slap in their prideful faces. It was as if Jesus was saying, “You pride yourselves in your knowledge of God’s word, but the truth is, you really don’t understand what you are reading.”
The lesson for the Pharisees is also an important lesson for us. When it comes to Scripture, our head knowledge is of little value if it doesn’t penetrate into our hearts. God’s Word is meant to transform lives. It doesn’t matter how much we know of God’s Word if we don’t take that knowledge and apply it to our lives in such a way that our lives are completely transformed. These Pharisees understanding of the Old Testament was second to none....except the original Author. Who by the way was standing in their presence! But they ignored the transforming truth’s of Scripture. Consequently they battled Jesus constantly, and lost every battle.
Keep this in mind as you spend time in God’s word. Every-time you open God’s Word, you should be doing so playfully. Asking God to open your eyes to the truth’s of His Word and then taking those truth’s He open’s your eyes to and applying them to your life that they might transform you.
Jesus’ point, as illustrated by the Old Testament account, was that showing compassion, In God’s sight, always trumped strict adherence to ritual and ceremony, so while David and his men “technically” violated the Law of Moses in eating bread that was reserved only for the consumption of priests, it was permissible in this instance, to aid David and his men. He makes this clear in what He says to them at the end of verse 27 “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, the purpose for the Sabbath rest was for God to give His people a weekly rest, not to enslave them with a thousand ruled and guidelines on what you can and can’t do on the Sabbath.
Before finishing chapter 2, let’s take a few moments to look at the next Sabbath encounter we see in Mark, which takes place in chapter 3:1-6 Next Slide
The Man With the Withered Hand. Mark 3:1-6; Matt. 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11
We do not know for sure, but most believe that since this takes place directly after what we just looked at in Mark 2, in Mark, Matthew and Luke, that this likely takes place the following Sabbath Day. Once again we see the Pharisees keeping close tabs on Jesus. In this instance, He is where you would expect Him to be on the Sabbath, He is in the synagogue. There were many there that day, including a man with a withered hand. The Greek word Luke choses to use in his account of this encounter, indicates that the hand was completely atrophied and that it was his right hand. This is important because since most people are right handed it is likely this this withered hand prevented this man from working. It is also widely believed that the Pharisees brought this man there that day to see what Jesus would do.
One of the beautiful things we see in the life of Jesus is, His eyes were always drawn to the greatest need in His presence. That is exactly what happened in the synagogue that day. Jesus eyes were quickly drawn to the man with the withered hand. His eyes were also drawn to the hearts of the Pharisees. He knew exactly what they were up to. He called the man to him and then looked at the Pharisees and said; “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to harm, to save life or to kill?” I’m betting that they were not expecting Him to address them, so I picture them sitting in stunned silence at His question. In looking into the depths of their hearts, Jesus saw in their hardened hearts anger, hatred, pride. This both angered and grieved Him. He then made one quick statement to the man; “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and it was restored. Instantly and completely restored.
That brings us to the lesson Jesus was delivering on these to occasions. We see this in the last verse of Mark chapter 2; Next Slide
Jesus Is The Lord of the Sabbath. Mark 2:28; Matthew 12:8; Luke 6:5
This was a new concept for them, and frankly, one they didn’t appreciate. While they would not have admitted it, they felt they were lords of the Sabbath. They wouldn’t have admitted it because clearly only God Himself was the Lord of the Sabbath, but in their 24 chapters of Sabbath day rules and regulations, they held themselves out as the lords of the Sabbath. Jesus claim here to be “lord even of the Sabbath” was a double edged sword into their prideful hearts. Not only was He shaming them and letting them know that He was their Superior when it came to the things of God, He was clearly stating that He was God in the flesh. It was God Who established the Sabbath, only God could really be the lord of the Sabbath, and here He was putting Himself on the same footing as God.
Moving to chapter 3:6 we see the culmination of their hardened hearts that were filled with anger, hatred and pride. Jesus had, on consecutive Sabbaths, shown His superiority in His wisdom in the Word of God, and in His ability to instantly heal a man’s withered hand with nothing more than the words out of His mouth, that He was truly “lord even of the Sabbath”, that He was God in the flesh. But their blind hatred and pride, their hardened hearts, blinded their eyes from the reality of Who Jesus was and as a result, we see in 3:6;
Next Slide
Mark 3:6 ESV
6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
As we close the first 2 chapters of Mark, as well as the first 6 verses of chapter 3. Mark has presented a very strong case for the unsurpassed authority of Jesus, in every area that God in the flesh would have authority. Proving that He is indeed God. The question for us this day is, what will we do with this knowledge? As was pointed out earlier, a proper understanding of God’s Word will always transform lives. While the Pharisees had an incredible amount of head knowledge in God’s Word, that head knowledge had never made the short journey from their heads to their hearts.
Jesus was and is the lord of the Sabbath, but it is not His desire to stop there, He wants to be your Lord as well. But He doesn’t force His lordship over us, we have to surrender to Him. My prayer us that any who haven’t done that yet, will do so today.
Let’s close in prayer.
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