“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2.23-28
Jesus lived outside the box. You would think that a religious leader would be such a rule follower, but Jesus came to set us free from man-made rules and to fulfill the law of God. This is the law that is written on hearts, and it is meant for our good and not just for our allegiance.
Jesus and his disciples were walking through the grain fields, as Mark tells us. And as they walked, on the Sabbath, mind you, they were picking heads of grain and eating them. Now a few things are immediately inconsistent in this story in terms of Jews and the Sabbath.
First, the Jews were limited to how much they could walk (and work) on the Sabbath (see https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/484235/jewish/How-far-am-I-allowed-to-walk-on-Shabbat.htm#:~:text=However%2C%20even%20walking%20on%20Shabbat,0.596%20miles%20(960%20meters). The max that they could walk would be just over a half of a mile, which is not very much. Walking is considered working and God commanded rest on this holy day.
Second, picking grain is also working and against the Sabbath. This would fall under food prep or working with plants (https://ezrasnashim.org/what-are-the-laws-of-shabbat/?gclid=CjwKCAjw7oeqBhBwEiwALyHLM3sPK2zmTxUHXweKH1T3_ikX2jb_vheYUaU4Np9UnRb-wcVEr8dbrRoCbnwQAvD_BwE.) It was unlawful for Jews to do this kind of work on the sabbath.
But Jesus says the Sabbath was made to serve people and not the other way around. Jesus also said that the Son of Man (he is talking about himself in veiled terms) is Lord of the Sabbath. Therefore, the Sabbath rest is intended to serve him and humanity rather than obeying the Sabbath for the Sabbaths’ sake.
Jesus came to set up free from mindless restrictions that actually make us focus more on duty and legalism than a love relationship with the Lord. And this I believe is what he means when he replies to the religious leaders about how the Son of Man is Lord even over the Sabbath.
This does not mean we are not suppose to rest. We indeed are! Some Christ followers ignore this command all together, which is not good. Nor should we be so legalistic that we worship the Sabbath rather than God. Jesus puts things into a positive and helpful light by breaking down barriers and doing so for our good.
Love God, love others and love yourself. Allow Christ’s light to shine in you, find rest in him and rest on the Sabbath. Allow Christ to be the center of your devotion and allow him to guide you each step of the way.
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for allowing me to know your truth and your love. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me up. Give me rest. Help me to obey your laws for my good and by your grace. For you are good and your love endures forever.’ Amen