23 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

Why was their “Sabbath” issue such a big one for the Pharisees? Like a dog with a bone, they relentlessly “gnawed at” Jesus on this one because, although it was never a big deal to Him, it was here that He “failed” in their eyes time and again.

Behind their controversy with Him lay two fundamentally opposite life philosophies: they were trying to protect their “righteousness” which was “you shall not…” while Jesus practised His righteousness which was doing whatever was needed to protect and promote love. Jesus was more concerned about meeting the needs of others than fastidiously “keeping” the law which was a sterile and fruitless way to live.

The law-keeping practices of the Pharisees were both fear and pride-motivated because they did not understand the heart of the Father. Their history had taken them into judgment and suffering, not so much because they had failed to keep the letter of the law, although this was the expression of their failure, but because they had walked over the two great commandments, “Love the Lord your God…and your neighbour…” They had failed to protect and promote love. Now their descendants were trapped in a religious system of their own making, kept in place by fear and pride because their “achievement” in keeping the law protected them from God’s judgment, so they thought.

By contrast, Jesus used every opportunity to promote love. He served, healed, taught, loved, gave and ministered wherever He could to whoever He could just because He could, to reveal the Father’s love and compassion wherever He went. He had no reason to try to “protect” His own righteousness because His righteousness was to do what the Father wanted, not what He wanted. The right thing was to meet the needs of others at His expense.

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Luella Campbell

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