Getting Lost in the Rules


Read Mark 2:23 – 3:6

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.”

This passage from the book of Mark is well known, and for the most part, easily understood. Jesus was reacting to the narrow interpretations of the Pharisees who confronted Jesus and his disciples for plucking and eating grain on the Sabbath.

While it is easy to look back, and criticize the Pharisees for their narrow and short-minded interpretations, I am reminded that to do that also makes me a Pharisee. I expect that at least some of those Pharisees were very sincere in their desire to do the right thing. They had been raised and taught that religion consists largely in keeping the rules. There had not been the emphasis on the rest of the scriptures which reminded them to treat the sojourner with mercy and to feed the poor, etc. For them, the rules were paramount – even to the potential detriment to the people for whom the rules were written.

In fact, during the wars of the Maccabees, Jewish rebels who were fleeing from Syrian soldiers, took the Sabbath so seriously that they refused to defend themselves on the Sabbath, for to do so would violate the law. They gave their lives to uphold their strong Sabbath beliefs.

Jesus pointed out to them the folly of their limited understanding. I think we too have limited understanding of God and his plans. The Holy Spirit is the one who enlightens us, and without the Spirit, we also come short and fail to act upon our faith with compassion and light.

Paul said that spiritual things are spiritually discerned (I Cor. 2:14-15). We need that enlightenment every day in order to properly discern the truths that God has for us. I am reminded that without that guidance of the Spirit, I too am a judging Pharisee, who lacks understanding and mercy toward others.

Prayer: Father, forgive us for our failure to see the most obvious things at times. Thank you for your Spirit, and the guidance he brings to all who ask for it, Amen.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s