Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 2:27 

“And He was saying to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27  

Now Jesus and His disciples were passing through a field planted with grain. “And it came about that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain.” Mark 2:23. As they were walking through the field, the disciples were hungry, and so were picking heads of grain from the plants. This was not illegal according to Jewish law. “When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket. When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.” Deuteronomy 23:24-25. When someone entered their neighbor’s vineyard, they were allowed to eat grapes until they were full. But they could not carry any away. In regard to grain, they could not use a sickle but they could pick by hand and eat.

However, what the Pharisees had an issue with was the day this was done.. “And the Pharisees were saying to Him, See here, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Mark 2:24. Now the Sabbath was started after the creation of man. “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed 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 2:1-3. Note what it says, “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

The Sabbath was not intended to be a bunch or rules, but a time of rest.  It was supposed to help people, not burden them. In contrast to the grueling daily work they did as slaves in Egypt, the Israelites were commanded to take a full day of rest each week under the Mosaic Law. The Pharisees had changed the Sabbath into a burden by adding restrictions well beyond what God’s law said. The act of picking a head of grain and munching on it as one walked along a field should not be considered harvesting, as the Pharisees said. The disciples had not broken God’s law; they had only violated the Pharisees’ strict interpretation of the law.

Jesus then reminded the Pharisees of the original intent of the Sabbath rest. “And He said to them, Have you never read what David did when he was in need and became hungry, he and his companions: how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he gave it also to those who were with him?” Mark 2:25-26. The men who were with David were starving and needed food. There was no food other than the bread consecrated to God. Therefore, the priest gave Him the bread. “So the priest gave him consecrated bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which was removed from before the LORD, in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away.” 1 Samuel 21:6. The holy bread had served a practical need of David, God’s anointed, and his followers. Just as in Jesus’ day when the grain served a practical need for Jesus, God’s anointed,  and His followers.

And then our focus verse, “And He was saying to them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Consequently, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28. Looking at the big picture, the Sabbath was not made for man to follow and obey, it was made for man to rest. The Sabbath was not intended to burden people but to ease their burden. For someone to forbid acts of mercy and goodness on God’s day of rest is contrary to all that is right. Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, did what was right and allowed the disciples to pick the grain to have something to eat. We must be careful that we do not place burdens on ourselves or others for the sake of the Sabbath or rules. As believers, set free in Christ, we are not judged by whether or not we keep the Sabbath day. “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day, things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17. Christ is not calling us to follow a bunch of hard rules, but to rest. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” Matthew 11:27-30.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

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