Sermon Summary (March 12, 2017
Mark 2:23-3:6 • Pastor Tim Tseng
KEY POINT: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
— 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
When Jesus’ disciples plucked the heads of grain on a sabbath, the Pharisees criticized them for doing illegal work. After all, the Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest (Deut. 5:14). But Jesus had a different interpretation.
— 25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?”
Jesus referenced 1 Sam. 21:1-16, where David and his loyal companions were fleeing from a hostile King Saul. They were hungry and begged for food in a temple. Only consecrated bread, which was reserved for priests, was available. But they were allowed to eat the bread – a clear violation of Jewish law. Were the priests bending the rules for David? Did Jesus endorse this? No. Jesus was making this point:
— 27 “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
We don’t hear a response from the Pharisees. In fact, they maintained a silent anger into the next chapter where Jesus demonstrates this point by healing a man with a shriveled hand in a synagogue on another sabbath (Mark 3:1-5). We are told that some of the Pharisees “were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus,” (v. 2). Jesus, anticipating this hostility, reiterates his point another way by asking “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” (v. 4) At their silence,
— 5 He looked around at [the Pharisees] in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
And afterwards, “the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” (v. 6). The die was cast. Jesus was now on the way to the cross.
How do we apply this very important scripture?
First, beware! It is very easy (almost natural) to become Pharisees. God gave Israel his law – which was meant to be used for the good of the people. But instead of worshiping and loving God, they worshiped their own power, security, and morality. And the result of is that Pharisees turned their interpretation of the law into a way to control people, neglect those in need, exclude those who are different. We’re no different, especially those of us who believe that we’re saved. Legalism always starts with good intentions, but it ends up distorting God’s purpose and becomes one of the worst sins since we are blind to it.
Second, know that Phariseeism imprisons us from true faith. Jesus was angry at how it made people with good intentions stubborn. It prevents us from understanding grace and forgiveness. We have a hard time forgiving ourselves, too. So what do we do?
Third, never forget Jesus’ two principles: (1) People are priority. God’s laws are meant for human flourishing, they are meant for good – not to prevent good from happening. (2) Jesus comes first in our interpretation of the bible. He supersedes legalistic interpretation of the bible and therefore, grace and mercy supersedes legalism and exclusion.
I invite us all to come to Jesus, repent of our Phariseeism, and pursue the path of grace and mercy in Christ!