“Jesus was walking through some wheat fields on a Sabbath.
As his disciples walked along with him, they began to pick the heads of wheat.
So the Pharisees said to Jesus,
‘Look, it is against our Law for your disciples to do that on the Sabbath!’” (Mark 2:23-24, GNB).
Jesus’ conflict with the Pharisees now reached to climax. After the issue of fasting, the Pharisees now moved to the issue of Sabbath observance. Sabbath was the most sacred and highly esteemed rule in the Jewish society at that time. Why?
It’s a long history. But let me summaries it this way: Over the centuries, the Jews had established (or rather, complicated) many rules and regulations governing what a Jew could and couldn't do on the seventh day of the week. What God commands as a day of rest to observe God’s provision for mankind in creation, the legalistic leaders of that day had produced ‘religious rulebooks’ that missed the entire purpose of the Sabbath commands. It supposed to be a day for worship and rest, but they are making it a day of “No’s-and-Don’ts.” When Jesus’ disciples “pick the heat of wheat,” they charged them as breaking the Law because to do that is considered reaping, which mean, working on the day of Sabbath! Unbelievable!
So Jesus answered the Pharisees with the story of David and his men (1 Samuel 21) who were very hungry “went into the house of God and ate the bread offered to God” which was “only the priests may eat [the] bread” (see Mark 25-26). I think Jesus was simply saying that even though the Law forbid it, King David does it anyway because he obeyed the higher Law which is – human needs are more important or take priority over religious rules and regulations.
Jesus concluded: “The Sabbath was made for the good of human beings; they were not made for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27, GNB) Or may I paraphrase it this way: The Sabbath is a day to enjoy, not a law to keep! Or may I surprise some of you readers today by saying that: After Genesis 2:2, God Himself doesn't observed Sabbath anymore – God is working ever since (John 5:17). But nevertheless, Jesus with authority said that “[the] Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).
Today, I observe that many Christians allowing themselves to be trapped into religious-rule-centered living rather than people-centered living. For examples, we decline an invitation to the unbelievers wedding party because we have this Christian rule, ‘You must not party with unbelievers’. We quietly condemn our friends for staying at their room play games because some Christian fellowship rulebooks that says, ‘You must not miss Christian Fellowship or Youth ministry every Friday night.’ No wonder, because of our religious-rule-centered living, the unbelievers soon get the impression that they are unimportant to us or to God until they are ‘obeying’ our religious rules. How many people or young people you know who are turned off from church or Christian Fellowship because they see that we’re so full of “Do’s and Don’ts” lists?
Listen to Jesus. He is saying to all of us now: “The Sabbath was made for the good of human beings; they were not made for the Sabbath.” Are we like Jesus, attracting unbelievers and transforming people lives because we concern about their relationship with God rather than obeying religious laws? Are we loving and people-centered like Jesus? Do we make it obvious that people are important to us? [Btw, the enemies don’t like all of these. That’s why they “made plans to kill Jesus” (Mark 3:6)]
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.