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Daily Bible Readings

Jesus the Sabbath-Lord Breaking Bread or Breaking the Law

Posted by Dan Sullivan on

[23] One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. [24] And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” [25] And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: [26] how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” [27] And 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 ESV Read More

There were a lot of laws that the Jewish people were afraid to break. The Sabbath laws were some of the most stringent, because that was part of the cause of the entire Babylonian captivity. They spent 70 years in exile and much of Israel was destroyed. The Rabbis wrote commentaries on the law which added up to more laws until there were over 1,500 laws concerning the Sabbath day! One of those, of course, was to not pick grain and eat it as a snack on the Sabbath. 

The whole point of the Sabbath day was rest and reflection. It was a day of rest to be reminded that all of your work wasn’t what provided for your needs, but it was GOD who provided for your needs. A day of realizing you would still survive if you didn’t work for your food was all God needed to keep His people’s attention. To rest on the Sabbath is to resist the idolatry of ourselves and to recognize our dependence on God. 

The bread of presence Jesus refers to here was kept at the tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant. It was the bread leftover after all of the various offerings were done. Again, it wasn’t a law, but it was customary that only the Levites that served before the Lord would eat that bread. At that time, Abiathar reasoned that God’s desire to feed the hungry and to care for the King outweighed the custom, so he gave some to David. 

When Jesus and the disciples eat this little grain snack on the Sabbath, they are fulfilling the Sabbath more than ever. If the point is the rely on God, then the fact that they have left their homes and are living day by day by the command of Jesus is the greatest expression of that. If the point is to see that they can’t provide for themselves but must rely on God for every provision, they are doing that, as Jesus has led them right through the middle of a grain field! That would be like going to a BBQ joint for coffee and expecting them to not eat some BBQ. 

The Sabbath isn’t a day of the week, but a way of life that keeps us reflected on God. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. That means He is the Lord of a life that is fully reflecting on and leaning on God. That can take many forms, from attending church on Sunday to having a Sunday night prayer meeting because you work 3rd shift. It can drive you to fast from avocados or coffee on Thursdays to keep you reminded of God’s supremacy. Either way, Jesus it the Lord over it, not rules. 

As we release the life of Jesus in ourselves more and more, we become free of those rules and more dependent on God’s daily guidance. That guidance leads to a real Sabbath rest that affects us inside and out. 

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Tags: church, discipleship, freedom, grace, obedience, sabbath

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