The Book of Mark #12 chapter 2:23-28
The Book of Mark
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath, Part 1
Mark 2:23–28
 
One thing is already clear from our study of these first few verses of the book of Mark and that is Jesus has plenty of power and authority.  We’ve seen Him demonstrate it sicknesses and demons and even Satan himself.  He can even forgive sin.  diseases and sicknesses and sin and Satan.
 
Now that is extremely important if your claim is to be the Son of God and the Savior of the world.  So as Mark unfolds his account of his life and ministry,, he very quickly goes about the business of establishing his credentials as the true Savior.
 
In our text tonight, verses 23 to 28, He is identified by another title.
 
Verses 23-28
 
He has already been referred to as the Son of Man which certainly refers to His humanity but also is a messianic title drawn from Daniel 7:13. But here I want you to look at the title, “Lord of the Sabbath.”
 
This may not seem like a significant title given all the other ways He is identified in Scripture, but in terms of His relationship to the Pharisees and the scribes, this may be the one that bothered them the most.
 
He had already violated their conscience by hangin around with sinners and tax collectors and touching lepers and now He is calling Himself To call Himself “the Lord of the Sabbath”!
This was an outrage beyond comprehension. They were very well aware of the fact that God had ordained the Sabbath. It is Genesis chapter 2 which begins with the statement, “Having created everything in six days, on the seventh day, God rested.” It was God Who ordained the Sabbath and blessed it and sanctified it.
 
It was God who wrote with His own finger in the tablets of stone, “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy”>   and then repeated that phrase over and again to the Jews.
 
It was God Himself who reiterated the Sabbath in Exodus 31 verses 12 to 17 and it was God who repeated the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5 in the re-giving of the Law on the borders of the land of Canaan after the wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. It was always God who laid out the Sabbath law.
 
So if anybody was “Lord of the Sabbath”, it was Jehovah God and not this guy.  To claim then to be Lord of the Sabbath was to claim to be God. And anyone who does that is either God or a blasphemer of the rankest kind.
 
So when Jesus called Himself “Lord of the Sabbath,” it just stuck in their craw.  There was perhaps nothing He could have done to put Himself in more direct conflict with the Jewish leaders than to identify Himself in this way.
 
And that’s what we see unfolding here at the end of chapter 2 and beginning of chapter 3.
 
We have here back-to-back illustrations of Jesus' utter disregard for Judaism's treatment of the Sabbath.
 
Now we know from John 5 and the healing of a man on the Sabbath, this conflict is already brewing. In fact, verse 16 of that chapter specifically says
 
 “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.”
 
It helps to understand their response to Jesus if you know how fanatical they were about the Sabbath.
The word “Sabbath” comes from a root word that means “to cease” and it carries the idea of completely stopping.
 
When God finished His creative work, He completely stopped creating.  So the Sabbath came to refer to that day when people ceased working. That's all the Old Testament says. It simply says you're not to work. It doesn't give any particular detailed minute prescriptions, you're not to work. You're to rest. It's to be a day of joy, designed for man to rest, recuperate and worship.  We stop the usual activities of the week and spend the day differently.
 
 But the hypocritical Pharisees and scribes had developed all kinds of things to make Sabbath worse than every other day because of its unbelievable restraints.
 
For example, you couldn't travel more than three thousand feet.  Some said you couldn’t travel more than nineteen hundred and ninety-nine steps.  If  you take 2,000 steps, it was a Sabbath violation.
So from Friday when the sun goes down till Saturday when it goes down, you better be tallying your steps to make sure you didn’t go over the quota.
 
The only way you could exceed that is if you put some food nineteen hundred and ninety-nine steps away before the Sabbath started.  Then you could walk the 1,999 to the food and then you were allotted an additional 1,999 to either travel farther or go back home.
 
Now if the streets where you were traveling were narrow, according to the Talmud, you could lay a piece of wood or a piece of rope over the entrance to the street between the dwellings on each side and you could make the street like the entrance to a house so you could go another three thousand feet or nineteen hundred and ninety-nine steps beyond that.
 
By the way, in the Talmud there are 24 chapters of Sabbath laws. One rabbi said he spent two and a half years studying one chapter to figure out all of the minutia.  It including things like the requirements for carrying things.  You could only life things and put them back down if you were carrying them to certain places.
 
You could lift it up in a public place and put it down in a private place, or you could lift it up in a private place and put it down in a public place, or you could lift it up in a wide place and put it in a legally free place and on and on and on.
 
No burden could be carried that weighed more than a dried fig.  You could carry half a fig two times.
If you put an olive in your mouth and rejected it because it was bad, you couldn't put a whole one in the next time because the palate had tasted the flavor of a whole olive.
 
If you threw an object in the air and caught it with the other hand, it was a sin. If you caught it in the same hand, it wasn't.
 
If you were eating supper when the sun went down beginning the Sabbath, you had to drop your food or that would be carrying a burden and that was a Sabbath violation.
 
A tailor couldn't carry his needle. The scribe couldn't carry his pen. A pupil couldn't carry his books. No clothing could be examined lest somehow you find a lice and inadvertently kill it. Wool couldn't be dyed. Nothing could be sold. Nothing could be bought. Nothing could be washed. A letter could not be sent even if it was sent via a heathen. No fire could be lit. Cold water could be poured on warm, but warm couldn't be poured on cold. An egg could not be boiled even if all you did was put it in the sand.
 
You could not bathe for fear when the water fell off of you it might wash the floor. If a candle was lit, you couldn't put it out. If it wasn't lit, you couldn't light it. Chairs couldn't be moved because they might make a rut. Women couldn't look in a glass or they might find a white hair and be tempted to pull it out.
 
Women couldn't wear jewelry because jewelry weighs more than a dried fig. A radish couldn't be left in salt because it would make it a pickle and that's work. No more grain could be pickled than you could put in a lamb's mouth. 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 have a wad in your ear but you wouldn't put false teeth in your mouth.
 
What was forbidden? Sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, sifting, grinding, kneading, baking, washing wool, beating wool, dying wool, spinning wool, putting on a weaver's beam, making threads, weaving threads, separating threads, making a knot, untying a knot, sewing two stitches...on and on and on. You talk about heavy laden.  The system was oppressive and unscriptural and maybe even inhumane.
 
And horror of horrors, on this day in our text, Jesus violates the Sabbath.  Notice how it happens.
 
Verse 23
 
That's
 
1. The Incident
 
By the way, the Pharisees are following Him, so they don't make an issue about Him walking beyond three thousand feet, or nineteen hundred and ninety-nine steps because they're there too. They conveniently don't mention this because they would have been in violation of it as well. That was the hypocrisy of their religion.
 
Instead they focus on the violation of harvesting grain on the Sabbath.  By the way, in Deuteronomy 23:25, God makes a wonderful provision for travelers.
If you walked through your neighbor’s standing grain, you could pluck some with your hand.  You couldn’t use a sickle. Obviously, you can't just harvest the grain and haul it off, but when you're traveling through his fields, you could eat some.
 
And the Old Testament provides for that and it doesn't restrict it to six days a week.  The Old Testament never restricts how far a person can walk, how far they can go, how heavy the burden they can carry. It simply calls them to stop working and rest and spend the day worshiping God with no other narrowing restrictions.
 
So His disciples are doing exactly what the Old Testament allowed them to do. They are making their way along while picking the heads of grain. Luke adds they were then rubbing them in their hands. They pick off the heads of grain, rub the heads of grain so they could get the inside fruit from the husk and the shell. Matthew adds they did it because they were hungry. This, of course, was perfectly within the purposes of God and the revelation of God in the Old Testament, but in direct violation of the religious rules manmade which dominated that legalistic culture.
 
So that’s’ the incident that sparks this confrontation.
 
It leads to
 
2.  The Indictment
 
verse 24
 
 
Remember, this is their interpretation of the law.  God said, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy and don’t do any work.”
 
They said, “If you roll wheat in your hands to remove the husks, it is sifting and that is forbidden. If you rub the heads of wheat, it is threshing and it is forbidden. If you clean off the shell, it is sifting and that is forbidden. If you throw the chaff into the air, that is winnowing, it is forbidden.
 
So just in picking and rolling and rubbing and discarding they had been reaping, threshing, sifting, grinding, winnowing and preparing food.
 
And they ask, “Why do you violate the Sabbath”, but really they were asking “Why do You and Your disciples live in such overt, open defiance of our religion?”
 
It is an implied threat. It is not a legitimate question, they don't want an answer. It is a scornful indictment, implying a threat.
 
Jesus responds with
 
3. An Illustration
 
verse 25
 
Don’t you know that galled them? There was nothing in the Old Testament they hadn't read.  They were the experts in Old Testament.
 
But that is one of Jesus’ favorite questions to them.  “Have you never read?  Do you not know the scriptures?”
Maybe you haven’t gotten that far in your daily Bible readings.  It was a biting indictment to suggest to them that they don't know what Scripture says.
 
The story He references is in 1 Samuel 21.  David was running from Saul to save his life and he came to a place called Nob about a mile north of Jerusalem. He had no food and he was hungry.
 
There he met the priest named Ahimelech and he asks the priest for food for his troops and himself but the priest tells him no common bread is available but he does have holy bread.  And if they can guarantee they are men of purity and holiness, they can have it.  They confirmed they were and they were given the bread from inside the Tabernacle .
 
Every twelve loaves of hot bread were placed on a golden table inside the tabernacle in the presence of God, symbolizing the need for the twelve tribes to have fellowship with God.
 
And on this day, David and his men show up, enter the house of God, and eat the consecrated bread which it is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests. And you’re worried about us eating grain on a Sabbath?
 
If David could be allowed by a priest to violate a divine symbol, perhaps on a Sabbath, then the disciples could be allowed by the Son of God to violate an unbiblical regulation on a Sabbath. It's that greater to lesser. If they could violate a divine prescription, certainly I can violate a human prescription. Their whole system is unbiblical, it is ungodly.
 
And then in verse 27 you have
 
4.  The Interpretation
 
The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for rest and blessing and joy and mercy and compassion and the meeting of needs.  There couldn't be a better day in the week to heal somebody than the Sabbath. There wouldn't be a better day in the week to provide food than the Sabbath.
 
And then Jesus dropped the bomb of all bombs on their self-righteous minds in
 
verse 28
 
The Son of Man, again the messianic title, is the Lord of the Sabbath.  Why?  It is because He is God.  And in so many words, He is saying, “I am the sovereign of this day. I designed this day. I am the Creator. “
 
What does John say at the beginning of his gospel? Everything made was made by Him, and without Him was anything made, so it was He who ceased to work, it was He who rested. It was He who ordained this day to be blessed and separated from work.
 
At the same time, He is saying to this hypocritical Pharisees, “You’re not in charge of the Sabbath.  I am.  You do not set the standards of behavior for the Sabbath, I do. I interpret God's will and God's Word.”
 
He is Lord of the Sabbath.
 
Let’s pray
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