Friday 22 February 2013

Bible Book:

"Then he said to them, 'Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?'" (v. 4)

Mark 3:1-6 Friday 22 February 2013


The fourth commandment was treated seriously under Mosaic law -"whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death"(Exodus 31:15) (cf Numbers 15:32-36). So, if Jesus were to breachthe rules of Sabbath observance, his opponents would be able tobring charges against him.

Healing was seen as work. The exception was in cases of dangerto life, which was hardly the case here. Jesus seems to beexpanding the concept of saving life to include healing andenhancing life. Immediately prior to this passage there is thisverse, "the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath" (Mark2:28) and the Gospel writer intends this episode to be read inthe light of that.

Again we have the conflict between those who feel that the wayto a right relationship with God is through obeying God's law, andJesus, who is more concerned with the man's need and with gettingon with the task of bringing in the kingdom of God. Jesus' radicalapproach threatens cherished customs and the authority and power ofthe religious authorities. The Pharisees, with their concern forthe strict implementation of the law, and the supporters of Herod,who don't want revolutionary ideas, clearly see Jesus as a threatto be removed.

This passage follows the incident of the disciples picking earsof corn on the Sabbath (Mark2:23-28), when Jesus declared, "The Sabbath was made forhumankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath" (v. 27). A weeklybreak from work was a gift, not an imposition. Body, mind andspirit all benefit from a period of rest and recreation. Having aset period of rest can mean that people consciously set that timeaside, spend time together as families, as well as on spiritualactivities which remind them of the purpose of life. If too manyactivities are forbidden or discouraged, it becomes an imposition,and then the Sabbath can be boring for many people. This has led toa reaction in our day, and much has been lost in the process, withmany feeling themselves to be on a purposeless treadmill, needingto grab what pleasure and solace they can, wherever they can.

To Ponder

  • How can you ensure that you take sufficient time out for rest,recreation and spiritual renewal?
  • How well do your church services and activities fit in with"the Sabbath was made for humankind"?
  • What spiritual provision can we make for those people who haveto work on a Sunday or have other important commitments then?
  • How do you react to the accusation that Christians are'finger-wagging killjoys'?
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