Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

3rd Sunday after Sleebo - the Festival of Cross

The Lord of the Sabbath - Sermon Notes on Mark 2:23-28

by Kata Iwannhn

Gospel: St. Mark 2: 23 - 28


Our text shows Jesus involved in controversy on the Sabbath. But the Sabbath isn't the main focus of the text. Rather, the focus is on who Jesus is. Jesus is the one who does something new. He is the bridegroom feasting from place to place. And He is the Lord who gives Sabbath rest.

THE SON OF DAVID (2:23-26)

Mark says (literally) that Jesus' disciples were "making a way" through the grainfields (2:23). That reminds us of the "way" theme in Mark's Gospel. Jesus is on the "way of the LORD" (1:2-3) and His disciples are following Him on that way.

As they went, they picked grain and ate it (Deut. 23:25). The Pharisees saw this as a violation of the Law forbidding harvesting on the Sabbath (Ex. 34:21). The Sabbath was a symbol of Jewish identity. True Jews kept the Sabbath; false Jews didn't. But Jesus' disciples aren't.

Jesus responds by pointing to David (1 Sam. 21). Like Jesus, David was anointed as king but wasn't on the throne yet. He asked Ahimelech the high priest for bread. In the Law, soldiers in camp are similar to priests (e.g., Deut. 23:9-14), and so Ahimelech gave him the showbread which only priests could eat (Lev. 24).

Jesus is identifying Himself as the new David, the king of Israel. As such, He is permitted to do what others aren't permitted to do. He is the holy warrior who is authorized to feed His followers, even by allowing them to harvest and eat grain on the Sabbath.

The disciples aren't renegades following a lax leader. They are Jesus' army, and their action is a sign that the king has come. But if Jesus is a new David, those who oppose Him are new Sauls and will be overthrown.

In 1 Samuel 21, the high priest is Ahimelech, but Jesus speaks about Abiathar as high priest. Jesus is giving the Pharisees a riddle to think about. Abiathar was Ahimelech's only surviving son and he obviously approved of David's actions because he fled to David (1 Sam. 22). Later, however, he turned against him and Solomon replaced him. By using his name, Jesus is hinting that those who serve God ought to support David's son. If they turn against Him, they will be replaced.

THE SON OF MAN (2:27-28)

Jesus then points back to creation. God made the Sabbath to benefit man, not the other way around. The Pharisees saw the Sabbath laws as ultimate, but their application of the laws robbed men of rest, especially because they didn't honour the Lord who gives rest.

Jesus is the son of Adam who has been exalted as Lord over the Sabbath (Dan. 7). He didn't come to call people back to the Old Covenant. He died and rose to bring New Covenant rest. He is greater than the Law, and He determines what may or may not be done all week long.

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentary/Analysis for the 3rd sunday after Sleebo

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