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?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he 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.” (Mark 2:23-28)
Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom.
He points out that in the absence of any other food, David and his men ate the high priests’ offering bread. Jesus cited this as an example of how rules, even God-given ones, are not intended to take precedence over human need. In this way, Jesus tells us something important about divine rules: God made them, and he made them to serve humans, not to rule humans.
Let’s repeat that: divine rules are made to serve humans, not to rule humans.
That’s where the train falls off the track for some Christians. Christians who believe that, as long as they follow superficial “rules,” they will gain eternal life. They fail to put together the understanding that any rules they follow will run fallow if their lives don’t match the good intent of the rules themselves.
Jesus came to teach us that the core of authentic human life is love. The person who loves, Paul wrote, fulfills the law. We could say that the only reason the law of God exists is to point us toward a life of love. To love is to enter into the divine fellowship of the Holy Spirit, to dwell in the eternal love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father.
WOW! Think about it.” To love is to enter into the divine fellowship of the Holy Spirit, to dwell in the eternal love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father.”
It comes down to recognizing that our love for others is at the core of what we say and what we do. That is how we are evaluated and that is how we will be judged.
John wrote that if a person loves God, then that person will love his brother. William Barclay wrote: “The best way to worship God is to help men” It might be easy to think that loving God and loving one’s neighbor are two different things. They are not. Our love for God is expressed precisely in how we treat others
The reality of today causes me to wonder where the command of loving one another went.
The divisiveness, the anger, the contempt, the use of slogans to show disdain, the taking of iron clad positions and saying: “If you are not with me, you are against me.” Then add to all of that an unprecedented rise in incivility, in hate crimes, in total contempt of the institutions of our society.
Is there love of God in that? The measure of our sincerity when we call ourselves Christians is how we treat others. The very gospel itself is a declaration of God’s love.
Love doesn’t come by programs. It comes in its own way in its own time. It is strengthened and proven in the crucible of self-sacrifice, patience and forbearance. It cannot be explained; it can only be lived. It’s something you live out, not something you evaluate on a scale of measurable outcomes. It’s messy, not predictable. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it thrills. It’s never static. It doesn’t play by the rules; the rules can’t keep up.
There is only mark of the authentic Christian. It’s living out the love of Christ. It gets difficult when there are so many disingenuous Christians at all levels. It gets unbelievable when ministers of God betray that in their time in the pulpit. But each of us must hold ourselves to the truth – the love of God entrusted to us to be shown to all those in our daily lives.
Wear the label of authentic Christian . . . one who, every day, examines his/her heart against the gospel of love. Did you contribute to that today?
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, may I give you fitting honor in the way I live my life and in the way I treat my neighbor. May I honor the Lord’s Day as a day holy to you. And may I always treat others with the same mercy and kindness which you have shown to me. Free me from a critical and intolerant spirit that I may always seek the good of my neighbor.”
Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the Sabbath was given for our benefit, to refresh and renew us in living for God. It was intended for good and not for evil. Withholding mercy and kindness in response to human need was not part of God’s intention that we rest from unnecessary labor. When we celebrate our Sabbath, do we do so by having lived a life in fulfillment of the two great commandments.