Sunday 03 June 2018

Bible Book:

“Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’” (vv. 27-28)

Mark 2:23 – 3:6 Sunday 3 June 2018

Psalm: Psalm 139


Growing up as a ‘chapel kid’ in the Welsh Valleys in the 1960s, it was fascinating to see the range of approaches to Sunday - the Sabbath.

Some households were incredibly strict: no TV, the vegetables were prepped on Saturday, no gardening – just chapel. Others were much less strict and went out for meals; even, horror of horrors, going dancing!

If I want to claim any kind of sporting success I could say that I turned down a trial with Bristol Rovers as a teenager. The truth is that they invited the whole club I played for to Bristol for a mass run-out. I couldn’t go because it was a Sunday and my parents expected me to be at worship.

The two incidents in today’s passage – disciples picking heads of grain and the healing of a man - are part of Mark’s Gospel building up the opposition towards Jesus. Mark chapter 2 is a series of stories that show how Jesus’ actions persuaded his opponents they needed to act against him.

Both of today’s incidents are Sabbath stories. The Pharisees would have been hot on anything they could pin on him. While it’s the disciples who are at fault in the first story, Jesus is blamed for their actions. As their Rabbi, Jesus seems not just willing to accept that but positively eager to take on the Pharisees’ challenge and turn the story into a theological joust.

Suddenly it’s the Pharisees who are made to look out of step. It is as if Jesus is saying to them,  “Don’t you know our story? Don’t you remember what (King) David did? How can you be so petty?”

For the Pharisees, the Sabbath is something to be marked by obeying the rules. For Jesus, it was something joyful to bless people as they honoured God. It was a time for re-creation in the presence of their creator.

Then Jesus points to himself as Lord of the Sabbath, but do the Pharisees understand his enigmatic description of the Son of Man?

To Ponder

  • How can you honour the Sabbath in a 24/7 culture?
  • Is a Sabbath truly possible anymore? What do you think could be done to restore some sense of the Sabbath?
  • Should Christians push for Sunday to be a no-shopping day? Why?
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