The Messengers of God
It came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. — Mark 2:23–28
During Jesus’ public ministry he traveled and taught. In our text we read of an encounter with the Pharisees that occurred on the sabbath. The disciples picked ears of corn as they were going through the corn fields. The Pharisees, who devoted much of their time to studying the scriptures and following the law, saw this occur and saw a chance to show their biblical knowledge. They knew this behavior of the disciples was not according to the Old Testament law. The Pharisees believed that salvation was merited by observing the law. Jesus saw into their hearts and knew their self-righteous ways, so here He wishes to teach them about salvation, that He is Lord of the sabbath.
In responding to the Pharisees’ rebuke, Jesus used an Old Testament happening which He knew the Pharisees would be familiar with. He reminded them of when David hid from King Saul and was hungry. The priests gave David the shewbread, which was only to be used in sacrificing and eaten by the priests. Jesus used this example to show the Pharisees that there is not salvation by following the law, but by believing in Jesus as the Son of God. When we have this faith in our heart, we desire to follow the will of God.
Jesus was the ultimate messenger of God’s will. Jesus Himself said, “think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matt. 5:17). Through His teaching and the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we are also messengers of God. We preach and share the joyful message of God’s kingdom to all who would wish to hear it.
The end of our text shows us the wisdom of God. God made the sabbath day for us. We humans were not made for the sabbath. Only the triune God is holy. We are holy only through the Holy Spirit that dwells within us and within the congregation of God. We cannot attain salvation or heaven on our own as the Pharisees thought. We so often focus on matters of day-to-day life and forget the most important aspect, preserving faith and keeping a clean conscience. We are blessed with the sabbath day on which to gather and hear and discuss God’s Word and be refreshed by the gospel.