2019-09-22 – Mark 2.23-3.6 – Religion or Relationship, Part 2
Bible Text: Mark 2.23-3.6 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Mark | 2019-09-22 – Mark 2.23-3.6 – Religion or Relationship, Part 2
(NISBY, Creation Science, QCABA Annual Meeting)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
A guy goes up to heaven, and there he meets all kinds of people. Some were from the time of Adam and Noah, when our world was just formed. Some people were from the time of Moses when God laid down the Law. And some people like us lived during the time Jesus and grace. So as he walked through the gates of heaven Moses came up to him, smiled and said, “you lived on earth during the time of grace? What was that like?”
This time of Grace that we are blessed to live in, is so precious and priceless. We seldom think about it, but how fortunate we are to be in the here and now. God’s grace is something we should never take for granted.
Today we will continue the topic of Religion or Relationship in regards to our faith walk. Last week we read how the Pharisees were again attempting to enforce their self-made religious practices upon the followers of Jesus. We addressed the subject of Fasting. What is Fasting, and what part does Fasting play in our contemporary lives today? Today we will read where the Jewish authorities attempted to enforce now the Sabbath, and we will address what the Sabbath should mean to us Born-Again Christians.
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 2.23, pew Bibles pg 889 in God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word, but let us first start with Prayer.
I will remind you, as we are going through this Gospel book of Mark, where Jesus and His disciples are just starting to get busy at introducing a new way of life to the Jewish communities around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus has been healing people and expelling demons and teaching them the Good News about Him being the Messiah Savior they had been waiting for. And in doing so, Jesus was befriending all kinds of people, including those that the religious Pharisees would never have even talked to let alone befriend. They were getting upset and now they were looking for ways to accuse or discredit Jesus. That takes us to our first verses today at Mark 2:23.
23 On the Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to make their way, picking some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
First thing we should look at is what exactly is the Sabbath?
The Hebrew word Shabbat is the where we get our English word Sabbath. It basically means “to rest.” The word is invariably linked to the seventh day after the six days of God’s creation, and that is how we see it used in the Old Testament. According to Exodus 20, the 5th commandment, the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week on which God set the example about rest, we too should rest; rest from our work, and rest in Him. The keeping of the Sabbath by the Jews was the “sign” of the covenant between Israel and the Lord (Exodus 31:13).
In the Old Testament, the Holy Sabbath day was observed on Saturday by the Jewish community. However under the New Testament, the church is no longer under the Mosaic Law. Under the New Covenant, which was established by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible nowhere describes Christians setting aside the Sabbath day as the day of worship. The only Scripture that describe Christians in any sense meeting on the Sabbath are in fact pointing to their evangelistic efforts at the Jewish synagogues, where they met on the Sabbath. Instead of meeting on just Saturdays, Acts 2:46 records the early Christians meeting almost every day instead. There are also few verses, like Acts 20:7 that mention Christians meeting on the first day of the week or Sunday, however there is no evidence in the New Testament that the apostles or the early Christians in any sense observed a regular Sabbath day as being the only prescribed day of the week for worship.
Having said that, we know traditionally Christians hold their primary corporate worship services on Sundays in celebration of Christ’s resurrection which occurred on a Sunday. It is important however for us to clearly understand that Sunday is not the “commanded day” for corporate worship. There is no explicit biblical command that either Saturday or Sunday be our day of worship. In Romans 14:5-6, the apostle Paul wrote about this: (SCREEN)
“One person judges one day to be more important than another day. Someone else judges every day to be the same. Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord.
Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, and he gives thanks to God”.
Today Christians live in the time of Grace, and we have the freedom to observe any day, or better yet to observe every day as special for the Lord. God’s desire is that we worship and serve Him continually, not just on Saturday or Sunday.
So I hope you can see, that although Good Christians have debated this issue for many years, Scripture settles the matter for us quite simply and effectively.
Now, before you go running for the doors, God’s desire is that you desire to be with Him and His people. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching”. God clearly wants us to be meeting together, and that I would argue is the main reason for church; that along with communion and corporate prayer. However at the same time, let nobody judge you brothers and sisters about this matter of the Sabbath. People can be so critical about such matters. That is not God’s will for any of us.
Colossians 2:16 says, “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day”.
The main point for us Christians is that we are no longer under the requirements of the Hebrew Law. We are now so blessed to be living under the time of grace. God’s grace is written on our hearts, and we are now a new creation in Him.
Jesus continues at verse 25:
25 He said to them, “Have you never read what David and those who were with him did when he was in need and hungry — 26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the bread of the Presence —which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests —and also gave some to his companions?” 27 Then he told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. 28 So then, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Jesus here is referring to an event that happened with young David before he was crowned king as written in 1 Samuel 21. David was running from King Saul and he and his men were hungry. The high-priest gave them bread that was designated as holy. Neither the priest nor David was punished for this as they were hungry, and God blessed them on this account. Jesus used that event in scripture here to defend himself against those who ridiculing Him about eating on the Sabbath. Jesus was trying to get them to realize that God loved them more than their religious practices. I hope you understand that, you are precious to God, and although we have rules for good order, they should never trump the love we have for one another and our love for God.
I remember about twenty-five years ago my wife and I were visiting churches. We arrived at one a couple minutes late, while the church was opening up in prayer, so we waited in the foyer for them to finish. A deacon greeted us at the door and I asked him, “so deacon, please tell me about your church?” to which he replied quite directly, “Well, we like our ladies in dresses”. I was taken aback, and Amy did a quick audit and realized she happened to conform to that standard. The service was fine, but we never returned to that church. We must be very careful on how we balance enforcing the rules and showing love and hospitality.
Jesus here in this verse takes claim to be “the Lord of the Sabbath”. In that, He was proclaiming to the world and the legalistic Pharisees, that He was greater than the Law; as God in flesh, He was the Author of those laws. I am sure that got the Pharisees and Priests attention, and made them even angrier then they were before. This was not a slip of the tongue, it set Him up perfectly for what was going to happen next. Chapter 3, verse 1 says:
3 Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a shriveled hand. 2 In order to accuse him, they were watching him closely to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 He told the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand before us.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, he was grieved at the hardness of their hearts and told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against him, how they might kill him.
So Jesus first schools them on their religious priorities, and then He demonstrated personally what He had taught them. In my experience that really the best type of teaching situations. Tell them, then show them. Unlike the days of old where it was frequently said, “do what I say, not what I do”; that doesn’t work very well, especially these days when our youth seem to be more empowered, pushing back saying don’t tell me what you believe, show me, then I will consider.
In these verses, Jesus is showing us that God is much more interested in having a real relationship with us than He is concerned about their iron-clad man-made religious practices. Jesus was now demonstrating that “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath”. He was totally going against the old standard that the Jewish Priests, the Pharisees and the Scribes were trying so hard to enforce. Not only did His disciples eat on the Sabbath, but here Jesus chooses to heal a man on their Saturday Sabbath as well. And not only in front of the cities people, but this time right inside their holy synagogue for the Pharisees to witness for themselves. Talk about being in the belly of the beast. Jesus was truly radical and bold in His ministry efforts. Indeed, He was rocking their world.
The Pharisees were attempting to set Jesus up for failure here, but what they intended for bad, God used for good. But it hurts my heart when I read that people were treating Jesus my Savior with such wicked intent. But just like we talked about last week, the Pharisees were more concerned with their man-made religious practices than about this man with the crippled hand. They were more concerned about people working on the Sabbath than they were about hungry people getting food. They were so determined to set-up Jesus for persecution than they were interested about recognizing Him as the Savior and Messiah they were waiting for to come. And now Jesus was schooling them in a radical way. And He is schooling us today as well.
The message today is the second part of the series entitled Religion or Relationship. In that regard please know, Jesus doesn’t want us to be like the Pharisees and put our man-made religious practices over that of building strong loving relationships with God and His people. Jesus set the example for us to follow, and in gratitude for what He did for us on the cross, we should then strive to emulate Him in demonstrating our love for others.
Today, I hope you realize that God somehow inspired you to be with us here in this church, not for the rituals and ceremonies, but instead for you to hear this message, and for you to have the opportunity to tune out the world and connect with Him in a very personable way. It is such a joy that we can come together as His people to edify and encourage, to hold-up and strengthen, and to worship and pray together in harmony for His glory and purpose alone, Amen?
I am so blessed to be with you this Sunday. It means a lot to me and I know also to you, to see this church come back alive, filled with His Holy Spirit and love. Last Wednesday evening we talked a little about the question, what is church?
I enjoyed so much to hear the responses and we shared some scripture verses on the subject. In a nutshell I will suggest there are three types of churches.
The Holy Universal church of all Christians all around the world;
the church building like this one that we now so much enjoy here together;
The church assembly of the God’s people, where Jesus said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
God intends for His Church to be all about relationships. Relationships with each other, our church family; and our relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Have you established those relationship yet?
How is your relationship with God today? God desires for your relationship with Him to be strong and healthy, to be consistent and heartfelt. For that is the true blessing that He offers us here again today, His amazing, wonderful and real presence. But He will never force that upon you, He instead offers it to you freely.
Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me”.
He also said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Again we are so fortunate to live now in this time of Grace. As believers, set free in Christ, we are no longer judged by whether or not we keep the Sabbath day and the Laws of Moses. Instead, we follow the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus Christ. We only find our rest in Him and Him alone.