Mark 2:23-28 – Pronouncement about the Sabbath
One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
One of my favorite scenes from Dances with Wolves was when Kevin Costner’s character was out in the wheatfields just moving his outstretched hands over the heads of wheat that were growing on the prairie. There was such a peaceful beauty to that moment in the movie. I love being in open spaces like that – it is a renewing thing for me…a Sabbath thing for me. I wonder if there was some of that movement by the disciples and Jesus in this story as they were going through the grainfields – hands outstretched and feeling the heads of grain under their hands. And then reality jumps in of the Pharisees (who seemingly were just watching behind trees or something like that) accusing them of breaking the Sabbath. This story ties in with the others around it about the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. Was it unlawful for picking grain on the sabbath? Likely so. However, was that in the spirit of the law? Were the disciples actively harvesting the grain or were they just going through the field experiencing the beauty of what God had put around them and plucking a few heads off to eat and savor what God had brought? We each need to be careful in our lives about the balance between law and grace. Both are necessary for our lives and God works through both.