One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
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: 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?”
And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:23-28
It had been over five centuries since Babylon had destroyed the temple. Over the time since it was rebuilt, certain people swore it would never happen again. Groups like the Pharisees formed to make sure. Therefore, they developed many rules to ensure the people did religion “correctly” according to the law. Over time, these rules seemed to become more numerous and important than the Law itself. This evolution blurred the spirit and purpose of the Law, and Jesus challenged this.
When the commandment addressing the sabbath (שַׁבָּת) was handed down, God wanted people to relax and rest from their labor. Note: There is no Hebrew root word for sabbath, and its closest cousin in Semitic languages is “sabattum” in ancient Assyrian, which means a “day of rest for the heart.” This commandment was necessary because the Hebrews had been subjected to forced labor under Pharaoh, and God was telling them to be sure they take a day off; every seventh day. YaHWeH told them to protect this day of rest as holy, recognizing his rest in creation; it’s not good for them to work all the time.
Jesus pointed out that God created the Sabbath to care for the people; he didn’t create the people to serve the Sabbath. So if people are hungry, let them prepare a meal. If they want to go for a long walk, let them. If they’re going to play, let them. But don’t forget to worship and pray to the One who gave you life, the universe, and everything.
Then Jesus finishes by dropping the bomb by declaring the “Son of Man” (Messiah) is the master of the Sabbath. The implication; Jesus is the Christ!
There have been many moments over the centuries of Christianity when it seems like the rules and practices became more important than its reason for being; grace and love. Be careful that dogma does not get in the way of the covenant lifestyle; loving the Triune God of Grace with every fiber of your being, and loving your neighbor as much as you lover yourself.
Lord of Rest,
Let us all be mindful of rest as a holy labor of LOVE, handed down from you and meant to be shared by us. May we take time to rest in you.
I pray in the name of the Lord of the Sabbath. Amen