If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
Mark 2:18 – 3:6
(We are coming in hot)
The first chunk of today’s Scripture is Jesus being questioned about fasting.
What was their argument? Why do your disciples not fast like John’s disciples?
Jesus answers: “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast when the bridegroom is with them?” The NIBC says the answer to this comes back to Jesus as He is making a positive expression that is sounded all throughout the NT – that JOY is an authentic mark of Christian discipleship. The feeling of “Joy unspeakable and full of glory” as it says in 1 Peter 1:8 is felt all throughout.
Jesus did not criticize John’s disciples. He did not put the calling of John’s disciples upon His own, nor vice versa. It was OK for each to follow their own calling. However, in our society, this gets carried out to the nth degree.
Our society acts as if everything is open to interpretation – such as many ways to heaven (all religions lead to the same place). There are universal truths.
Some things are of first importance and everyone who wishes to follow Jesus must agree –
We must agree who God is – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Which we cannot totally understand but believe by faith – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Jesus Son of God, and God – not just A God, but God.
Jesus is not Michael the archangel as the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe. The JW began in the late 1800’s and quite frankly, and believe there is one archangel and it is Michael, who is also Jesus. When the JW come to your door, you should not have a discussion with them. They are the authors of confusion. Daniel 10:13 says Michael is one of the archangels. Colossians 1 talks of the supremacy of Christ – in Him all things were created.
Another universal truth of Christianity – Confess sins to Jesus, ask Him for forgiveness, let Him help you turn from your sin – that is a one size fits all – everyone will have different successes and failures, but the method and goal is the same. Jesus died for our sins and there is no way to God but through Jesus.
The Apostle Paul put it this way when he wrote to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 15:
I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep.
7 Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, He also appeared to me.
Other things can be seen as an individual calling – fasting, being a missionary to Haiti, becoming a pastor,
Going back to the idea – Jesus did not criticize John’s disciples. He did not put the calling of John’s disciples upon His own, nor vice versa. It was OK for each to follow their own calling.
There is a bigger picture here that encompasses all three of the smaller stories we’re looking at, which we will get to at the end.
So now we move on to verses 23-28:
They have a problem with Jesus’ disciples plucking off the heads of grain, likely munching on them –
And the Pharisees find a problem with it. Their problem was likely not in the taking of the heads of grain that were not theirs, but in the Pharisees seeing it as “working” on the Sabbath. The farmers of that day used to allow people who needed it to “glean” from their harvest.
To explain Gleaning – 8 years ago for my first egg making at Wesley Chapel, Eric Moore was cleaning out peanut butter jars to make the eggs. I was talking about the squirrels in my front yard and Eric said he could do a less precise job cleaning out the peanut butter jars and I could put them out for the squirrels, they were the big mouth jars. It would not make that big a deal to the egg production, but the squirrels would be blessed…….That’s what happened in their fields at that time – might have been what was happening here – the problem was not that the disciples were plucking the heads of grain to eat – it is that they were doing it on the Sabbath – the day of rest – not just the day of rest, the day that no work was to be done. And what is work? The Pharisees were the arbiter of that. They decided what work was and what it was not. And they decided plucking heads of grain to much on was work.
And Jesus let them know that HE was the ruler of the Sabbath. The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath…
The Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest, but the Rules and regulations imposed upon the people by the religious leaders had become a burden and the people dreaded the Sabbath.
Jesus’ answer to them that He was Lord of the Sabbath makes sense to us. They’re doing this on the sabbath – Jesus says I created the sabbath… as a blessing. You have made it a burden, And in comparing their gleaning to David and the Holy Bread as an answer to what is lawful Jesus seems to be saying, “If David, the man after God’s own heart, could do that for his famished men, then the hungry disciples could certainly pluck heads of grain to satisfy their hunger – a principle recognized in the Torah, even on the sabbath.
And again – we will tie this with the first and the last story in our vignette today.
For our third story this morning – we get to the healing of the man with the withered hand
Jesus asks “Is it ok to do good things on the Sabbath?” Another place in the Bible Jesus asks if a farmer had a donkey stuck in a pit on the Sabbath if they would leave the donkey in the hole on the sabbath. Of course not.
Jesus turns the Sabbath from the day of rest to a day of Holy activity and servitude. Holy activity and servitude for those who have been transformed by Jesus do not really consider Holy activity and servitude work! I often joke about having to work on Sundays, but the work for a sermon happens in the days leading up to Sunday. Sunday is not work, but I am here doing my best showing and teaching brothers and sisters and non believers about the One we worship and doing so is an act of our worship. Do you think Jesus considered healing the withered hand work? It can wear on you, and when it becomes work, one should back off – and Jesus did at times withdraw. Pastors take Sabbaticals. I am approaching 52 weeks in a row of preaching on Sundays, but I am only able to do it with passion and spirit because it is worship and not work for me. Quite frankly, the work for me is all the other pastor stuff.
When I went before the northern district board in the UMC exploring my calling, I was not as certain I was called to be a pastor as I was an evangelist. It was not until the DS said we need more evangelists in the pulpits that I understood my calling. And we come full circle to the beginning when I was talking about people being called to different things. I love certain parts of the ministry and find them enjoyable, and I struggle with other parts.
As I finish out this story and prepare to make my closing argument – one more point I notice about this story – Jesus calls the man to put forth some effort himself. “Step forward” “Stretch out your hand”
I do not know what this means to you when you hear it –
For me, I think about the phrase Work and pray… work like it’s up to you, pray like it’s up to God.
Sometimes we have to grasp the opportunities that God presents to us.
David Ziler yesterday about the mission – It was a defining moment when the Covid hit – would the mission close down or would they fulfill their calling trusting in the Lord to enable them. They had a meeting, David offered the staff the opportunity to take time off without punishment – they decided this was what they were called to – they kept feeding, kept housing, and God blessed them. One covid case, contained. And God has even allowed them to expand operations as they just opened an addiction recovery home for men. The Union Rescue Mission stepped forward, reached out their hand, and God filled it.
Sometimes I wonder what blessings I have missed out on because I did not step forward when the Lord called me to. And other times, I see what blessings I receive and what a blessing I can be because I did.
So the man steps forward, reaches out his hand, and Jesus heals him.
We have arrived at our destination for this morning – the part we have been working up to that I believe ties all three stories together. It is grace. God’s grace.
When we read in Genesis that in the beginning God created everything and then rested on the seventh day, why do you think He did that? Do you think God was worn out? Most theologians come to the conclusion that God was setting an example for us. He did not need to rest. And the seventh day we call Saturday. But when Jesus rose from the dead, the church decided to celebrate the first day of the week, the day Jesus rose from the grave, and call it holy and set it apart. It is our sabbath. It is our day of rest – and God has blessed us with this day. It is grace. It is not meant to be legalism – follow this rule. It is a blessing. The Pharisees legalism made it a burden.
Jesus showed grace to his disciples about fasting AND grace to John’s disciples about fasting! Jesus showed grace to the disciples about being hungry walking through the field. Jesus showed grace to the man with the withered hand.
I would even argue that Jesus showed grace to the Pharisees explaining things to them and answering their questions… their hardened hearts kept them from receiving it.
On the scene of a death, I was questioned by a daughter about her father and heaven… she could not stand the thought of her dad not going to heaven…
It was grace that God gave me a story of Jesus coming to Diane’s sister and calling her home. And it was grace that I could share that hope with a daughter who had just lost her father. God is grace upon grace upon grace. God is so gracious. We are living in a time of grace – when we who deserve punishment are offered grace instead. That grace will come to an end. By His grace, it hasn’t ended yet. Do you get that? It is by God’s grace that the evil in the world has not been punished yet. But one day, the offer will be withdrawn. One day it will be too late to step forward and put out your hand. One day Jesus is coming back to set things right. Have you received His grace? Will you today? And will you show it to others?
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
- Refrain: Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
- Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
- Dark is the stain that we cannot hide;
What can we do to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
- Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?