Sermons

Summary: Great expectations part two further conflict with the Pharisees. Whose right?

Mark 2:23-3:6. Great expectations part two.

Regulations shape all our lives. Michael imagine a game of bridge without rules, Brain imagine a Cricket match without the wickets and the crease, Mark imagine a football match without a ball and the posts. Imagine these roads without highway code, Imagine this land without a civil law and now Imagine a God without any law!

Here we have a further two encounters with the Pharisees focusing upon the weightier side of the law in regard to the Sabbath the day that God had instituted (Gen 2:2-3) After the days of creation. The Pharisees recognised the Sabbath was holy and to ignore such a fact and to turn ones back upon it was to turn ones back upon the God of the covenant.

The Pharisees examined the Sabbath law.

The Ten Commandments forbid working on the Sabbath (Ex 20:8-11, Deut.5: 12-15)

So they began to ask the question what is exactly involved in working and how can we avoid doing such work? It involved a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts on Sabbath work, this was their hedge (39 Sabbath laws) to make sure they were never in danger of breaking the Sabbath commandment.

Ultra orthodox Jews still today form hedges for instance: Israel’s major airline, El Al, recently rejected a plea by ultra-orthodox Jews with a priestly heritage to fly inside body bags. Why would someone want to do this? Ritual law states that a priest who enters a cemetery becomes religiously "unclean."

A ruling by a prominent rabbi declared that flying over a cemetery was the same as entering it. He suggested body bags as a means of maintaining separation, but abandoned the idea when told by airline security that it would be unsafe. Orthodox priests can now avoid pollution by flying late at night, as the noise levels require night flights to follow an alternate route which doesn’t pass above the cemetery.

This type of behaviour sounds bizarre to Western ears, but it harks all the way back to the time of Jesus. The Pharisees too went to great extremes to ensure they observed the Law of Moses. The goal was to be totally committed to God’s will.

There’s one thing for certain - orthodox Jews stand out! According to the Old Testament, purity laws such as these made Israel stand out, identified Israel as God’s people. Jesus declared that God’s will is no longer focused on ritual purity, but purity of character. We should be marked by our love, grace, forgiveness, etc, and as committed to developing such character as the ultra-orthodox Jew is to ritual purity.

source: reported by reuters.com,

This might sound bizarre to our ears but it stems back to the Pharisees in Jesus day. Christians can also use add ons which are not warranted.In regard to what is permitted and not permitted on the Lords day for example.

In actual practice Jesus was’nt in breach of Gods law but was in breach of man made regulations they equated to disobedience to Gods law. V24. That’s exactly why the disciples of Jesus were rebuked because law no 3 of 39 hedged laws on the Sabbath states there was to be no reaping on the Sabbath.

Imagine how they must of felt when Jesus began to move their familiar boundaries?

Although Gods law stipulated that farmers were not to harvest on a Sabbath this was in the realm of Ex.34:21. personal gain and not human need they missed the intent of the law. And it wasn’t that they were stealing Deut.23: 25 for Gods law gave room for such reaping at the edges of a harvest field.

1. The expectation of legalism over human need (V25) (1Sam 21:16.) Imagine walking to Church and you see a person begging for food, Do you walk by or feed him?

Jesus response to the question is to take them back to Scriptures with a question

V25 Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? V26 In the days of Abithar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And also gave some to his companions.

Here we see Ahimelech going against the ritual requirement of the law. He put Davids need and life ahead of religious ceremony and fed him with the consecrated bread.

This upheld the higher law of love. Lev.19;18. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of you people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.

Jesus is saying that Gods law should not be applied without compassion to do good and to save life is Gods greater law.

There is a story about a Golf club committee who to preserve their fairways from being cut up with divots enforced members to play all shots from the rough at the side. But golf courses like Sabbaths are meant to be enjoyed not preserved like a museum. The Sabbath had become a burden to the Pharisees.

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