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Mark 2:23-28 Disciples Eating Grain on the Sabbath

Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 14, 2012


Mark 2:23-28 NLTse One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. (24) But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” (25) Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? (26) He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.” (27) Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. (28) So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

 

When you think of Jesus coming to this world to meet the needs of people, doesn’t it make sense that He would also be the Lord of the Sabbath that was made to meet the needs of people?

 

Because this is the end of chapter two we need to look at it as a summation. In other words, it should support and explain the rest of the chapter. But first a little back ground.

 

As Jesus traveled from town to town, many of the people in the towns and villages came out to see Him and listen to Him speak. Some brought friends and relatives for Jesus to heal. Many brought food to share with Jesus, His disciples, and others. One Sabbath early in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus and His disciples found themselves alone on the road with vast fields of ripe golden grain on each side. Jesus thought of the final harvest of the world, wishing the field would be as ripe and untainted as the fields they viewed. Jesus also thought of the lessons associated with the laws on gleaning the fields. The edges and grain missed during the harvest were to be left behind for the poor, and those traveling past the field.

 

The harvest had not yet begun, but since the grain was ripe, the disciples began to take handfuls and rub them between their hands to separate the wheat from the chaff. They were not completely alone. Even though the crowds were gathered in the synagogues on Sabbath, some of the Pharisees still followed Jesus. Now they thought they found something against Jesus. They asked Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”

 

The Bible does not tell us if the harvest began, or if the disciples were gleaning grain. As a new believer I can see a spiritual significance in both. The harvest of the world began the moment Adam and Eve sinned. God had a plan before He placed that tree in the middle of the garden. On the other hand, was Jesus bringing in a new form of worship, a new method to harvest, or simply explaining God’s original plan?. Notice how the disciples illustrated the personal touch? This was an introduction to many parables Jesus taught about the harvest. Maybe we can answer the question by examining surrounding texts.

 

In the beginning of the chapter we see four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man to Jesus. When the religious leaders questioned Jesus, He answered. “Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’?” The introduction to Chapter two also introduces Jesus’ ministry to the world which is far different from the organized church.

 

To illustrate this point Jesus called a tax collector, Matthew Levi. Matthew invites Jesus and His disciples to dinner where he has invited many of his tax collecting friends. Why was Matthew not ashamed to share Jesus with his friends? Was Matthew so amazed with Jesus, he could not wait to share? Or was Matthew led by the Spirit to invite his friends? As Jesus was reaching out to Matthew’s friends, the religious leaders became jealous and tried to use the situation against Jesus. Has this ever happened to you? Did you ever go out into the world sharing Jesus, only to find some one inside the church used it against you because the people you were reaching did not fit the standards? Don’t worry about what others think. Mark told us, “There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.” (Mark 2:15).

 

Jesus wanted everyone to see the difference between the old and new. So He told two parables. The first about an old garment and new cloth. The second about new wine in old skins. Later in His ministry we see Jesus teaching His disciples to see the difference between the Spirit and this world.

Jesus asked the Pharisees if they ever read a text in the Old Testament. “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.”

 

They were the keepers of the law. They should have known every detail concerning the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. The simple answer is in Leviticus 22:11 NLTse However, if the priest buys a slave for himself, the slave may eat from the sacred offerings. And if his slaves have children, they also may share his food. What the Pharisees or the disciples did not know at the time was Jesus came to purchase us with His blood which gives us all the right to eat the sacred bread, this is a symbol of Jesus’ body. Everything would be explained in due time. All they needed to do was take the time to put the details together and listen to the Spirit.

 

There is still another valuable lesson to learn from this text. As we already learned, the end of a chapter summarizes the entire chapter. It also supports the introduction to the next chapter. Mark closes chapter two by introducing Jesus as the Lord of the Sabbath. The theme of the chapter distinguishes between the old and new. Does the introduction to chapter three continue with this theme?

 

Mark 3:1-2 NLTse Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. (2) Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

 

Chapter three continues the epic battle between the old and new, between the Spirit and traditions of the world. Let me point out. The Pharisees, who prided themselves on knowing the law could not answer Jesus’ question about the sacred bread. This showed how little they understood the law. Once again we see them judging Jesus based on their traditions and not what was written by God’s prophets. Jesus had one question for them.

 

Mark 3:4 NLTse Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

 

Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath spoke and silenced his critics. I wonder how people look at this verse today? “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” I can see how each answer requires a personal searching of the soul. I have seen people do good, with legalist condemning them, just as the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus.

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