Friday of Pentecost 2 – Mark 2:23-28, (3:1-6)

23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

1Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

“This is the way that we do this here!” the fussy little man in the sacristy was instructing me on proper pastoral comportment in the chancel during the service, especially the Lord’s Supper. I was a guest preacher. My duties at Concordia at the time meant I often filled in for vacationing pastors or in vacant parishes. I had never preached there before, and he felt that I needed thorough instruction in the proper protocols and traditions of the parish. I really did try to do things the way that parishes were used to doing things, but this almost made me want to do it the other way just to make a point. I complied with my instructions as given, but the thought crossed my mind.

Have you ever wondered when reading the Gospels if Jesus ever did anything that was not on the Sabbath? He always seems to be healing someone or doing something he should not do on the day of rest. I sometimes think He did that on purpose, just to make the point he states in this reading. Human beings love to make what should be a blessing into a rule or law which must be obeyed. God gives us the opportunity to rest in a pew on Sunday, to worship Him, to sing with Angels, and receive His very self in the sacrament. But we would turn that into a rule which others must keep, or which accuses us.

Jesus was fed up with the rule makers in the first century and likely would have the same things to say to the rule-makers today, even if our rules are a little different. He wanted his disciples to have something to eat. He wanted to give this man his life back by restoring his shriveled hand. But they could not see the blessing, only the rule being broken. Mark is clear. This is why they sought to kill Him. He is equally clear that this is what makes Jesus who He is.

I have made many mistakes while conducting worship. I have forgotten whole sections of the service. I have chanted off tune, started singing the wrong hymn, skipped whole portions of my sermon. This list could go on. I really do try to do a good job at leading worship, and I think often I do. But the fact is that Jesus shows up every time and forgives people their sins, no matter what mistakes I have made.

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