URC Daily Devotion 23 January 2024

23 January 2024

St Mark 2: 23 – 28

One sabbath he was going through the cornfields; 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.’

Reflection

In the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus is a ‘do-er’. Jesus calls and heals and preaches, cleanses, appoints, teaches and journeys with his disciples. He challenges and troubles and welcomes, he unsettles those in authority and raises up those who are considered unworthy. And this causes people to feel uneasy, to condemn and to criticise.

In this text we hear the Pharisees, men knowledgeable about Jewish Law and tradition, picking up that Jesus’ disciples were picking grain on the sabbath- thereby breaking Jewish Law. And so they speak out and challenge him. The wondrous thing that is portrayed in this text is the fact that Jesus counter-challenges them, using the words from the Hebrew Scripture (that they studied). He is not intimidated by them but responds with an informed answer that shows wisdom. The next words in the Gospel have Jesus going into the synagogue. Whilst the Pharisees question the actions of his disciples, we have a Jewish man living out his faith in an obvious and faith-filled way. A way that they struggled with.

His challenge is radical- he challenges the traditions and makes a bold claim! ‘Your rules do not apply to me…’ we read, and then we have him comparing himself to David. His claim is that people’s wellbeing is vital and looking after themselves does not stop because of the sabbath. There is no break in self-care or personal health care. It shows his understanding of the need to ‘be’ as well as do in each moment of every day.

In this text Jesus reminds those in authority that man-made rules do not trump God-given guidance and that physical and mental wellbeing is important.

Prayer

Gracious God,
May we never get so focused on our rules, regulations and expectations that we fail to make time for recharging and re-energising.

May we be able to still our hearts, silence our phones and turn off our email notifications and just be.

And may we ensure that we do not have unrealistic expectations of those around us or hold them to account in ways that hurt or harm.

Help us all to metaphorically ‘pluck grain’ as we walk this journey through life. Amen. 

 

 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Jenny Mills, URC Secretary for Education and Learning and member of Church Without Walls, Milton Keynes.

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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