The Way DAY 24 - Burden or Bless?

DAY 24 - Burden or Bless?

Mark 2:23-28

Today we read Mark’s version of the Luke 6 Sabbath controversy. Mark includes a statement from Jesus that Luke doesn’t. In Mark 2:27, Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Jesus’ disagreement with the Pharisees wasn’t just about the Bible. It was how to read the Bible well. You can make the Bible say almost anything, but that doesn’t mean you’re reading the Bible well. Ideally, the Christian community called “Church” teaches us how to read well. As we said a few days ago, we have to connect individual Bible stories to the Bible’s big story. That big story must connect to Jesus Christ as God’s gracious way of saving us from sin and death.

For example, if we’re asking what Old Testament Sabbath laws mean for Christians today, we don’t just read Exodus or Leviticus and pretend we’re ancient Israelites. We look at what Jesus said about the Sabbath. We look at what the apostles taught and the early church practiced. It’s not enough to quote verses. We have to connect things to Jesus.

But there’s one more step to good Bible reading. This step connects to what Jesus says in Mark 2:27. The African bishop, Augustine of Hippo, wrote in the 4th c. that all our study of Scripture should grow our love for God and neighbor. He said, “Anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them.” 

Connect little parts of the Bible to the Bible’s big story. Make sure the heart of that big story is Jesus Christ as God’s gracious way of saving us from sin and death. And finally, ask how this part of the Bible helps you better love God and neighbor. 

The Pharisees that Jesus met in that synagogue lost the plot. Yes, they wanted to obey God (“Rest on the Sabbath”), but their way of reading the Bible did not help them love their neighbor. In fact, their Sabbath rules were a burden on people. The Sabbath was meant to be a blessing, not a burden.

Does your faith bless or burden people? How does your faith help you to actively love God and others?

Because Jesus is the key to understanding the Bible, when reading the Bible, we ask: how does this fit into the Bible’s big story and connect to Jesus? How does this avoid some common mistakes of Bible reading? 

Teach me, Lord, how to read the Bible well. Help me to better understand the Bible’s big story, it’s connection to Jesus, and how it helps me to love you and others more. Amen.