5 October 2014

posted 2 Oct 2014, 10:12 by C S Paul

5 October 2014

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Third Sunday after The Festival of the Cross

Gospel Reading for this Sunday - Mark 2:23-28
New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

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?”

25 But He said to them, “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 him?”

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 also Lord of the Sabbath.”

The Lord of the Sabbath - Sermon Notes on Mark 2:23-28

by Kata Iwannhn


Our text shows Jesus involved in controversy on the Sabbath. But the Sabbath isn't the main focus of the text. Rather, the focus is on who Jesus is. Jesus is the one who does something new. He is the bridegroom feasting from place to place. And He is the Lord who gives Sabbath rest.

THE SON OF DAVID (2:23-26)

Mark says (literally) that Jesus' disciples were "making a way" through the grainfields (2:23). That reminds us of the "way" theme in Mark's Gospel. Jesus is on the "way of the LORD" (1:2-3) and His disciples are following Him on that way.

As they went, they picked grain and ate it (Deut. 23:25). The Pharisees saw this as a violation of the Law forbidding harvesting on the Sabbath (Ex. 34:21). The Sabbath was a symbol of Jewish identity. True Jews kept the Sabbath; false Jews didn't. But Jesus' disciples aren't.

Jesus responds by pointing to David (1 Sam. 21). Like Jesus, David was anointed as king but wasn't on the throne yet. He asked Ahimelech the high priest for bread. In the Law, soldiers in camp are similar to priests (e.g., Deut. 23:9-14), and so Ahimelech gave him the showbread which only priests could eat (Lev. 24).

Jesus is identifying Himself as the new David, the king of Israel. As such, He is permitted to do what others aren't permitted to do. He is the holy warrior who is authorized to feed His followers, even by allowing them to harvest and eat grain on the Sabbath.

The disciples aren't renegades following a lax leader. They are Jesus' army, and their action is a sign that the king has come. But if Jesus is a new David, those who oppose Him are new Sauls and will be overthrown.

In 1 Samuel 21, the high priest is Ahimelech, but Jesus speaks about Abiathar as high priest. Jesus is giving the Pharisees a riddle to think about. Abiathar was Ahimelech's only surviving son and he obviously approved of David's actions because he fled to David (1 Sam. 22). Later, however, he turned against him and Solomon replaced him. By using his name, Jesus is hinting that those who serve God ought to support David's son. If they turn against Him, they will be replaced.

THE SON OF MAN (2:27-28)

Jesus then points back to creation. God made the Sabbath to benefit man, not the other way around. The Pharisees saw the Sabbath laws as ultimate, but their application of the laws robbed men of rest, especially because they didn't honour the Lord who gives rest.

Jesus is the son of Adam who has been exalted as Lord over the Sabbath (Dan. 7). He didn't come to call people back to the Old Covenant. He died and rose to bring New Covenant rest. He is greater than the Law, and He determines what may or may not be done all week long.