During the time of Jesus, the religious leaders had created countless rules, regulations, and laws that directed and conformed the behaviors of the Jewish people. There were nearly 40 categories of rules and forbidden activities solely related to the Sabbath, the Day of Rest established by God. By strictly regulating what one could and could not do, and creating heavy burdens of obligation on God’s people, the Pharisees had essentially established themselves as lord and ruler of God’s Day of Rest.
Mark’s Gospel presents a confrontation between these leaders and Jesus, as the Pharisees seek to reinforce their authority and enforcement regarding how one is to behave on the Sabbath. “As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?’ [Jesus] said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’” (NAB, MK 23-24, 27-28)
Jesus was making clear who is the true Lord of the Sabbath, not the Pharisees or any other religious leaders, but God alone. Jesus was making clear that He, the maker and giver of the Law, is the correct one to interpret the Law. Jesus, in fact, was ushering in a New Law, a New Covenant, a fulfillment all the prophecies and revelations that God had given. This New Testament is revealed in the Good News of Jesus Christ, our Lord, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the One True God of Creation. We worship a God of love, not laws, and when the laws of man conflict with the Law of Love, our loyalties must be clear.
Jesus, you were present at the very dawn of Creation. All that is, was spoken into being by you, the Word present, for your word is Truth. Your word is also Love. Help me to bring that same love and truth to those I encounter in my daily activities, so that they may also experience your peace, mercy, and love, and may you forever be glorified through your servants. Amen.