Parallel Texts: Matthew 12:1-8; Luke 6:1-5
Mark has shifted the scene to the countryside. Jesus and the disciples, and apparently some Pharisees, are walking through grain fields on the Sabbath. They are hungry and the disciples pluck a few heads of grain to eat as they go along, and the Pharisees object, for it is unlawful to harvest a field on the Sabbath. The law on this point is contained in Exodus 20:10 if you’d like to read it just to bring in a little context. By the way, if you do look it up, you will notice that the law doesn’t say this. It says you shall do no work. Were the disciples actually working? Well, that is the real question.
As the years went by, it became apparent that Exodus 20:10 was subject to interpretation, and many well-intentioned leaders believed that there was a great potential for misunderstanding Exodus 20:10, so they adopted a very long list of additional rules to help people avoid an unintentional violation of the Sabbath. This list of rules is not actually part of the law, but as more time went by, it was treated as if it were the law itself; this is what the Pharisees were actually referring to.
In verses 25-26, Jesus cites a well-known example of David feeding his men food reserved by the law for the exclusive use of the priests when necessity required it, with the implication that necessity required the disciples’ actions that the Pharisees were objecting to. He concludes His answer in the following verses:
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
I wish I could have been there to see the look on the faces of those poor Pharisees when they heard that!
As you know, there are those critics out there who claim that Jesus never said He was divine. Even if that were true, He sure implied it strongly on many occasions, and this is another of those. If the Sabbath was made for man, and that makes the Son of Man the lord over the Sabbath, then it is because He’s also the Lord over Man.
Parallel Texts: Matthew 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11
After the scene in the last section where Jesus announces that He is the Lord of the Sabbath, Mark recounts another Sabbath scene, this time in a synagogue, where Jesus heals a man with an injured hand. It seems that there were some present who were interested in causing problems, and Jesus, no doubt being aware of this, asked the injured man to step forward:
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
I’m guessing they also remained hopeful…
Jesus healed the man. Mark tells us in verse 5 that Jesus was angry and distressed at the hard hearts of those who sought an excuse to act against Him… and afterwards, they began to plot to kill Him. Mark tells us that the group consisted of Pharisees and Herodians, who were of the party of Herod, the Vassal king of Judea, son of the guy who slaughtered the infants in Bethlehem. When you consider the fact that the Pharisees and the Herodians were sworn enemies, their sudden alliance in a plot to kill Jesus should raise some questions, don’t you think?