This is one of those times in which I wish the group responsible for putting in chapters and verses had thought it through a little bit longer. Either start a new chapter beginning in verse 23 or take the chapter starting point out at verse 1 of chapter three and move it to verse 13. Verse 23 does kind of dovetail back into the previous section we just covered in verses 18-22. So perhaps we should just move it back to Mark 2:17 and call it even.
See how confusing all this becomes, for it makes it difficult at times to follow the thought of the original author when we insert chapters in the wrong place or divide a verse in the wrong place.
But, this is ok, the gospel message is not about verse and chapter it is about the Story of Jesus and the Good news of the Gospel message. The chapter and verse only make it easier for us to find different passages of scripture.
Jesus had just told the Scribes, Pharisees, John the Baptizer’s disciples and his own that there was a huge difference between the tradition and theology of man and that of the true gospel message. The gospel message is like a new cloth or new wine (grape juice). You cannot take the gospel message and bottle it in the manmade traditions of man or use it to make patchwork out of the fabric of the gospel message. By doing so, it ruins the gospel message in its entirety.
23 Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
Since the Pharisees were not complaining about the distance traveled, for a Sabbath day’s journey without making provision for a longer journey was only 2/3 of a mile. By making provision on the day before, one would walk beyond that distance without it being considered work. So, since no mention of distance traveled the Pharisees pick up the theme of tradition verse true gospel theology by bringing into question that while the disciples were walking through the grain field, they picked some grain, rubbing it in their hard-calloused hands and then eating it. Oh, yes, and all done on the Sabbath.
Some might argue that the plucking of grain and rubbing it in your hands was a metaphor for harvesting souls for Christ. I could almost agree if the passages surrounding weren’t dealing with tradition and the need to part with tradition.
In the book of Leviticus the whole issue of feeding oneself while walking by a field of grain was covered and this was an acceptable practice that was carried on throughout Judea, even in the time of Christ. So, what is truly at play? Was there something inherently wrong with the original law allowing such a thing or had the use of the law been perverted and now being used as a detriment.
Jesus gives us interesting insight by giving us an old testament illustration. It was difficult for anyone to speak ill against the great King David and so Jesus opened by saying: 25 . . . “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him; 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with them?”
Oh, wait, what just happened here? David went in and did what was not right, by entering into the sanctuary and eating the bread which was placed upon the table of showbread with in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary. This bread placed upon the Table of showbread was blessed and represented the bread of life which is Christ himself. It was there that the priests might symbolically by actually eating it show how God is the source of life and that it is by his grace he sustains us and that through daily study and prayer, (by eating the spiritual bread which is the holy scriptures) that we begin to take on the same qualities, personality traits as God the Father as shown to us through Christ, the living word.
But the bread on the table of show bread was to be consumed only by the priest (Leviticus 24:5-9), and here David in 1 Samuel 21:6 eats the bread consecrated only for the priests, yet he was not condemned.
David had asked for the bread to relieve the suffering of himself and his men, they ate and their suffering was relieved. The law of God is not designed to make one suffer under a heavy burden, but when we get all wound up in the traditions that sometimes get in the way of keeping God’s law, then we must lay aside our traditions.
27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, 28 therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.
Literally what Jesus is saying is “For the sake of mankind” the Sabbath was created and ordained by a loving Creator for the welfare of humanity. It is only by the wildest stretch of reasoning that a person could consider the Sabbath against mankind in any respect. God did not create man because He had a Sabbath and needed someone to keep it. Rather, as an All-Wise Creator, He knew that man, the very apple of his eye, needed the opportunity for moral and spiritual growth, for character development. Mankind needed time in which his own interests and pursuits should be subordinate to the study of the Character and will of God as revealed in nature, and later, in the Holy Scriptures. The Sabbath was ordained of God and by God to meet this need. Therefore, to tamper with the Sabbath by hanging on all these manmade traditions and manmade theology does nothing to enhance the Sabbath but to make it a burden. A yoke around the necks of the people.
The Pharisees, Scribes and Religious people of Christ’s time and even today have made the concept that the Sabbath was of more importance in the sight of God than man himself. According to the apparent reason of these blind exponents of the divine law, “man was made for the Sabbath – made to keep it mechanically.
In essence, they were attempting to earn salvation by the way they kept the Sabbath, turning a delight into a burden.
28 “Therefore, the Son of Man (Jesus Christ born of Mary) is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
Therefore, Christ is the Son of Man and Lord of the Sabbath then, if all this is true, then His gospel will teach us how to properly keep His Sabbath.