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Lesson # Mark 2:23-26
Study Material - Mark 2:23-26
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23 And it came about that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to Him, 'See here, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?' 25 And He said to them, 'Have you never read what David did when he was in need and became hungry, he and his companions: 26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he gave it also to those who were with him? '
Jesus was walking through a corn field, His disciples accompanying Him, and we should note that some Pharisees were walking along with them as well. The disciples began plucking some of the corn from the stalk, rubbing it and eating it to satisfy their hunger.
Now note that this is permitted by Deu. 23:25, the principle being that the poor of the land should have access to food when they are hungry. This law did not allow for a hungry person to go through a field and harvest great bushels of grain, but only what is necessary to satisfy his hunger. The principle of charity is the issue in this law.
The Pharisees objected to the harvest of the single ears of corn. The Sabbath provides for no work. The principle of the Sabbath is that God provides everything we need, and mans work is unnecessary in Gods provision.
Several issues are raised here. First, knowledge of law verses its spirit. The Pharisees superimposed their rituals above human necessity. Further they saw themselves as defenders of a ritual when they did not possess the understanding of its intent. This always places a person in opposition when something comes into conflict with their way of thinking. They were petty, mediocre, small minded, inflexible, and intolerant of others. They of course, did not see themselves with any flaw which would cause them self rebuke. They saw only flaws in others. Further still, as self righteous persons they would with vigor press their charges against others. They were power mongers, or control freaks if you will. They looked to their own expertise to dominate others and to rule others. They refused to listen to truth or counter arguments, and they refused to learn anything other than what they already had knowledge of. Such is the state of those persons that maintain a high opinion of themselves, and little opinion of others.
Jesus counters with a question, 'Have you not read?' He knows full well that these Pharisees have read the scriptures. They pride themselves on reading the volumes of words in the scriptures, but reading volumes of words does not equate to knowledge nor even understanding. You've heard of the phrase 'book smart, but life dumb', and that is a very good description of these Pharisees, and anyone else who follows their pattern of inflexible thought.
They were opposed to the picking of corn on the Sabbath. The picking of corn was equated with harvesting, regardless of the small quantity of corn picked (one or two ears). The need for food due to hunger was not considered, therefore human necessity was ignored when it conflicted with ritual protocol.
We see this type of rigidity in more dangerous philosophies such as the concept of faith healing. Often parents will keep their children from a doctors care because of their faith. Blood transfusions are refused, surgery is refused and so forth. A total disregard of the needs of the child, who can often die because of this rigid standard. And so this is an example of just how extreme people can get even in our current day. We know how extreme the Pharisees got. They sent Jesus to the Cross because of their rigid pattern of thought. But then it is not the Pharisees but the false philosophy which they adhered to that led them astray.
Jesus reminds them of those words they should already be aware of. The scriptures found in 1 Sam 21, where in the time of Ahimelech (the father of Abiathar), David took loves of bread, loaves which were placed on the alter for a week, then replaced with fresh loaves each Sabbath. The old loaves being eaten or disposed of as the need arose.
David was on the run and he was hungry. He rationalized that the needs of his hunger were greater than the needs of five loaves just sitting on an alter, and he was correct. When the human needs are great, then the rules of ritual must give way to human necessity. To refuse food to a hungry person because of a rule is contrary to proper treatment of the person in need. Rules must be set aside when legitimate human needs exist. This does not permit crime, but is an application of charity. It does not mean that we claim privilege of non-human needs when human need exist. This is where many environmentalists become detached from reality (and I know I'll get the e-mail's now). You will recall we mentioned a situation in Oregon last year when family farms were allowed to fail in order to save some unknown fish. It all came about due to a water shortage in Southern Oregon last year. Water was shut off from farms and to try to get it would make one a criminal. of course the law was illegitimate, but that is the jungle as we say.
These Pharisees would sustain the hunger of a person just to keep their rules unblemished. And this is morally wrong.
Two views arise from this. There is the conscientious view where one looks to how or what can be done in order to maintain a good relationship with God and in order to maintain good blessings from Him. This is a flexible and open minded approach to life. The opposite view is the scrupulous view where rules are placed in ones mind and the logical thought is, 'what can I do to avoid gods wrath? or what can I do to avoid a situation?' Avoidance is not the same as a positive adherence to a life style. Conscientiousness is guided by principle (with flexibility) whereas a scrupulous person acts on rules without regard to principle (inflexibility). The Pharisees would have strung David up from the nearest tree for tampering with their 'sacred' bread. The self righteous person exaggerates the injury and seeks greater punishment than is required, if at all.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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