Red Letters

John 3:16“…the lord of the Sabbath”  Mark 2:23-28

Reading the gospels, one would wonder if the scribes and Pharisees had anything else to do but follow Jesus and his disciples around, nitpicking their every action. This time, Jesus’ words would have set off fireworks in their minds.  Jesus made a clear claim through two audacious responses to their complaint against the disciples.

They accused the disciples of breaking the Sabbath because they pulled off heads of grain, shook out the chaff with their hands, and ate the grains.  Oh so many traditions had been added to God’s original command to keep the Sabbath holy.  Their challenge was “cheeky” however, since they knew Jesus was powerful, had healed people of diseases, and had cast out demons.  In their eagerness to put him in his place, they gave him a perfect opportunity to put them in their place, and to claim his own rightful place.

To answer Jesus used an incident from history with which they all would have been familiar.  He reminded them that David ate the sacred bread and used this as his example.  They did not have the grace to give Jesus and his disciples a pass. Jesus’ logical explanation revealed knowledge and wisdom they did not have… “The Sabbath was made for man.”  It is true. The point was to rest spiritually and physically; develop an intimacy with God, and rest from their daily burdens.  The Sabbath had long become a ritual, ripe for micromanagers to manipulate, to tighten down the screws on the people so there was no room for rest and faith, only ritual and rules.

Then to assume any relationship with their beloved David would have been an affront…especially when he went on to claim that he was the promised One, the rightful descendant who would reign in a kingdom, higher and greater than David’s was.  Because that is what he did when he added, “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath”, i.e. the lord over you.

We do not have ‘the rest of the story’ of that interchange.  But there are some golden grains that we should wrestle through.  Often I have unwittingly challenged Jesus on his handling of the universe. I have wrestled with how Jesus could allow the beautiful children we worked with in Mexico to endure victimization of every kind.  I mourned with and about women; mistreated, rejected, or abused by husbands during my ministry with women.  My heart breaks as I see evil come down like big drops of acid rain through a virus, through political unrest, and through the damage that follows.  But Jesus says to me in this passage, “The son of man is the lord even of ________________!

I have no moral claim that allows me a hand in how to fix the world.  I do have One Lord who did the only thing, and the best thing possible; he gave his life as a ransom for many and because of this, I am saved.  That’s all…just saved.  And one more thing: he gave me a commandment to tell the world this Good News that I have.  Not as a Pharisee who wants to fix everyone else, but as a soul, saved by grace, saved from drowning in sin, who simply has a piece of the rope to share.