Lord of the Sabbath, Part 1

“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. And the Pharisees said to Him, ‘Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’” Mark 2:23-24.

The incidents we are going to examine are also covered in Matthew 12:1-14 and Luke 6:1-11 so reference will be made to these passages for the things that add to the narrative.

If you are curious as to why there are differences between these passages it is because; the four gospels were written to show Jesus from various perspectives to reach different audiences.

Matthew shows Jesus as the King and is directed mainly to the Jews (though the messages are for everyone), Mark shows Him as a servant, Luke portrays Him as a man, and John presents Him as God incarnate.

This is why the same account in different gospels may omit some detail while others include it. If you are inclined to do so, these three accounts can be harmonized to read as one.

This has been done, one example being “The Life of Christ in Stereo”, by Johnston M. Cheney; published by Western Baptist Seminary Press, Portland, Oregon.

Some study Bibles may also have a list of verses from the four gospels collected together chronologically to help you in your studies. If you have a good study Bible be sure to look it over carefully some of these have loads of information in them.

As an example of these textual differences it states in Luke that they rubbed the grains in their hands.

“And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands.” Luke 6:1b.

The issue here is that the disciples are doing work on the Sabbath. So “…the Pharisees said to Him, ‘Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’”

“But He said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 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?’” Mark 2:25-26.

This account of David and Abiathar the high priest is located in 1 Samuel 21:1-6, and though the priest’s name is given as Ahimelech it is the same incident, but for some reason Jesus uses the name Abiathar (Ahimelech’s son).

Perhaps because he later became high priest after Ahimelech disgraced himself by taking David’s son Adonijah’s side when he proclaimed himself king rather than waiting for King David to name his successor, Solomon, who was named king instead.

The point here is that Jesus completely side-steps the whole working on the Sabbath issue and directs them to the showing of mercy to David and his men even though they were not priests.

The bread was old bread, fresh showbread having already been laid out in the tabernacle.

While the old bread is for the priests’ consumption, mercy dictates that it can be given to the hungry. This is why the Lord makes the following comment in Matthew.

“But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” Matthew 12:7.

“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’” Mark 2:27-28.

The Lord’s words here, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” is proof that the most religious person to ever walk this earth is Satan.

Yes the Devil himself has made religion what it is today. And he constantly presses us on because he wants you and me to excel in our piety and religiosity.

When you think of it, maybe the Pharisees were right, the fourth commandment was pretty stern.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day [Saturday] is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11.

This commandment was so strict that a death penalty was mandated for those who profaned the Sabbath, and indeed in Numbers 15:32-36 the account is given of a man who was gathering sticks on the Sabbath, was caught and put to death.

Part of the reason for this is that men are so dense that they think that the Ten Commandments are actually the ten suggestions.

Where there is no penalty for an infraction the law is not obeyed. And this is an important law.

“You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.” Exodus 35:3.

So what do we have here, if you work on the Sabbath you die, you may not even make a fire on the Sabbath, if you do, you die.

Just where does the grace and love of God come in here? If He wanted them to take the day off, why did He not just say so instead of making such big production out of it?

Let us face it, this was just itching to become something for the Pharisees to expand upon and clarify with their superior intellect.

Well let us see, is scratching your nose work? Well, yes, but everybody does it, so we cannot be stoning everyone.

How about if your house is on fire? Well, yes, if one’s house is on fire they should be able to leave, but they may only run so many steps before it becomes work!

But wait; why stop at house fires, this is a great area that needs to be flogged until there is no room for anything else.

Well, Jews could only travel what was called a Sabbath’s day’s Journey on the Sabbath which was 3000 feet, a little over a half a mile.

Nor could they go for a walk in their fields or garden because to admire one’s garden can be thought of as walking to their own pleasure.

There was to be no cutting of a plant, branch, or even a leaf, all considered work.

There was to be no eating before morning prayers ended in the synagogue. The various rules for eating also extended through the week, not just on the Sabbath.

God truly is a killjoy how can anyone possibly enjoy a day of rest while trying to keep all the burdensome rules He’s given the Pharisees to teach the people to keep.

I have read the whole Old Testament and I have never seen any of these draconian rules mentioned anywhere.

Is it possible that the Pharisees got all their rules from a source other than God?

If something is not spelled out in Scripture it is not from God, because His word is the only source that reveals His will.

“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:1-2.

“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.” Proverbs 30:5-6.

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19.

Let us put some stuff together here that is actually in Scripture.

“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:2-3.

God rested on the seventh day and He sanctified it. Sanctified it means that God set it apart from the other six days; He set it apart so men would rest at least one day a week.

This idea is so important that God made it a law for His people; a law that does not exist for the Christian.

Yet a day is still set apart, Sunday, the first day of the week, resurrection day, the day when Jesus arose from the grave, a day of remembrance.

All of this is why the Lord said these things to the Pharisees.

“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’” Mark 2:27-28.

Let us return briefly to the fourth commandment; God brings both man and beast into this commandment of rest.

A man cannot make his son or daughter work on this day, nor manservant, maidservant, or stranger within their gates. The latter seems to include giving the foreign worker or slave rest on this day too.

If you will read again the commandment quoted earlier in this post you will find a peculiarity, someone is missing, the wife. There is a very good reason for this:

“And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” Genesis 2:23.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24.

It is for this reason that the wife is not mentioned in the commandment to abstain from work on the Sabbath, it is understood that the wife is part of the man and should no more be expected to work on the Sabbath than the man is.

I will say this again, and again, and again, marriage is a mystical relationship created by God, not man, and is not to be meddled with either by divorce lawyers, lawmakers, or those who are out to turn it into an abomination before God.

There is a curse upon all who try to destroy the sanctity of God’s provision for stable families. Marriage is also a type of Christ and His bride, the church.

“For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:30-32.

That the wife is expected to rest on the Sabbath is indicated by the following.

“You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.” Exodus 35:3.

Just as the man was expected to wind up his chores before the Sabbath began, so the wife was expected to have set aside enough food for Sabbath meals.

If they had been able to kindle a fire, the wife would be expected to fix dinner while the men sat around on their duffs and did nothing.

Do not laugh; this is just lazy human nature and the reason the weight of law had to be put behind this commandment. Husbands forget that the Sabbath was made for their wives too.

Rich men hate to lose a day of income so they have their employees working in the mines or toiling in the fields on that day.

Merchants open their stalls on the Sabbath because daylight is money earned. The Sabbath is like any other day when it comes to enriching oneself.

However, for those who seek to honor the Lord no matter what the loss to them there is mercy.

“I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord [YAWEH], and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:1-9.

Thus ends part one of a two part series on Lord of the Sabbath.

Lord of the Sabbath, Part 1 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 12-10-18, updated on 4-15-21.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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