Monday 11 January 2016

Bible Book:

Mark 2:23-28 Monday 11 January 2016

Psalm: Psalm 7:1-11


These are early days in Jesus' ministry but he was alreadychallenging the accepted norms. Doing work on the Sabbath wasforbidden and so it's surprising that the disciples would havebroken the well-known rules without Jesus prompting them to. It'sperhaps also surprising that the Pharisees were hanging around acornfield on the Sabbath and didn't have better things to do. Thissuggests, then, that this wasn't just a description of aninteresting historical episode, but was a story with a deepermeaning for those who would be listening.

Yesterday's passage focused on the links between John theBaptist and Jesus. Mark's Gospel begins with the words of John theBaptist quoting the prophet Isaiah, saying his role was to,"prepare the way of the Lord" (Mark1:3). Today we have echoes of that theme in the language usedto describe the disciples making their way through the cornfields.The verb translated "made their way" (v. 23) means literally "tomake or build a road", and it's possible that Mark uses thisdeliberately to link to John's mission. Later in the Gospel thesame word is used of the road to Jerusalem and the path ofdiscipleship (Mark 10:32, 52), suggesting that the setting of this storyin a cornfield is no incidental element but a pointer to what is tocome.

The conflict about the use of the Sabbath would also resonatewith the early Christians who may have already been in disputeabout the Jewish pattern of Sabbath observance, particularly ifthey came from a Gentile or non-Jewish background and worked on aSaturday. Those with this heritage would have taken heart from thewords of Jesus suggesting that they did not need to stick to thestrict interpretation of these Jewish laws as they developed theirown tradition of worshipping on a Sunday.

The reference to David and his men (verses 25-26) not onlyprovides more backing for Jesus' position that the Pharisees areover-interpreting the law with an unnecessary and unhelpfulauthoritarianism, but also provides a link and comparison betweenDavid and Jesus. Just as the popular John the Baptist gave supportand credibility to this new Galilean preacher, equating King Davidand his men with Jesus and his disciples would also have given astrong message that a new king had arrived.

To Ponder

  • Are there traditions of the Church that you find unhelpful orprovide a barrier between you and Jesus? What are they?
  • Are there traditions of the Church that have been lost butwhich you think would help us to connect better with Jesus? Againwhat are they? And how might you reintroduce them?
  • Those who want to "Keep Sunday Special" are often portrayed asout-of-date traditionalists, and yet many trade unions want toretain restrictions on extending shopping hours on a Sunday. Whatshould we do, and not do, on a Sunday? 
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