Life-Study of Markby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall continue to consider the ways the Slave-Savior carried out His gospel service. According to 2:23-28, He cared for His followers’ hunger rather than for religion’s regulation, and according to 3:1-6 He cared for the relief of the suffering one rather than for the ritual of religion.
Mark 2:23 says, “And it came about that He passed through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way, picking the ears of grain.” I believe that the Lord Jesus purposely led His followers into the grainfields on the Sabbath. He certainly knew that it was a Sabbath day. As a rule, He should not have made a decision to pass through the grainfields on the Sabbath, for that was a breaking of the regulation concerning the keeping of the Sabbath. Nevertheless, He, as the Shepherd, led all of His followers, His sheep, into the grainfields, and those fields became their pasture. Verse 23 says that “His disciples began to make their way, picking the ears of grain.” Here we see that the disciples were eating the fresh ears of grain. Through this kind of eating they were satisfied.
In verse 24 “the Pharisees said to Him, Look! Why are they doing on the Sabbath what is not lawful?” The Sabbath was for the Jews to remember God as the Creator (Gen. 2:2), to keep the sign of God’s covenant with them (Ezek. 20:12), and to remember God’s redemption of them (Deut. 5:15). Hence, to profane the Sabbath was a serious matter in the eyes of the religious Pharisees. To them it was not lawful, not scriptural, for the Lord’s disciples to pick ears of grain on the Sabbath. As we shall see, the Pharisees did not have adequate knowledge of the Scriptures. According to their meager knowledge, they cared for the ritual of keeping the Sabbath, not for the hunger of the people. What folly to observe a vain ritual!
In Mark 2:25-26 we see the Lord’s reply to the Pharisees: “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and was hungry, he and those with him? How he entered into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the presence, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he gave also to those who were with him?” The Pharisees said that it was not lawful for the Lord’s disciples to pick the ears in the grainfields and eat. The Pharisees condemned them for acting contrary to Scripture. But the Lord asked them, “Have you not read?” He pointed out to them another aspect of the truth in the Scriptures that justified Him and His disciples. This condemned the Pharisees for lacking adequate knowledge of the Scriptures.
The Lord’s answer in these verses indicates that He must have had an excellent way of studying the Bible. Here the Lord seemed to be telling the Pharisees, “Have you never read what David did? You religionists respect the Bible to the uttermost. Have you not read how David entered into the house of God, ate the bread of the presence, and also gave it to those who were with him? Don’t you know that David led his followers to do this? Would you say that he misled them in this matter?” How excellent is the Lord’s way of studying the Bible! We all need to learn of Him.
In the eyes of the Jews, the Lord was unlearned. They marveled and said concerning Him, “How does this man know letters, having never learned?” (John 7:15). This One, who apparently was unlearned in the Scriptures, questioned the scribes, ancient scholars of the Bible, concerning their knowledge of the Scriptures. Although they were regarded as Bible scholars, they knew the Scriptures only in a superficial way and in the way of doctrine in dead letters. The Lord exposed their inadequate knowledge of the Scriptures when He asked them if they had never read what David did when he and those with him were in need and were hungry.
The Lord’s word to the Pharisees is very wise and rich in its implications. The Lord’s word here implies that He is the real David. In the ancient time, David and his followers, when rejected, entered into the house of God and ate the showbread, seemingly breaking the Levitical law. Now the real David and His followers were also rejected and took action to eat, seemingly against the sabbatical regulation. Just as David and his followers were not held guilty, neither should Christ and His disciples be condemned.
Furthermore, the Lord’s word here implies a dispensational change from the priesthood to the kingship. In the ancient time, the coming of David changed the dispensation from the age of the priests to the age of the kings, to the age in which the kings were above the priests. In the age of the priests, the leader of the people should listen to the priest (Num. 27:21-22). But in the age of the kings, the priest should submit to the king (1 Sam. 2:35-36). Hence, what King David with his followers did was not illegal. Now by the coming of Christ the dispensation was also changed, this time from the age of the law to the age of grace, the age in which Christ is above the law. Whatever He does is right.
We have seen that the Lord’s word to the Pharisees implies that He is the real David. Matthew the tax collector was one of the followers of this David, the One who was fighting for God’s kingdom. When David led his company to the house of God, He was fighting for the kingdom. Likewise, as the real David, Christ and His followers were also fighting for the coming of the kingdom. Moreover, with the coming of the Lord there was a change of dispensation.
In 2:27 the Lord went on to say to the Pharisees, “The Sabbath came into being for man’s sake, and not man for the Sabbath’s sake.” Man was not created for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was ordained for man so that man might enjoy it with God (Gen. 2:2-3).
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