Q&A: What is the meaning of Mark 2:27-28

What is the meaning of Mark 2:27-28

Question

What is the meaning of Mark 2:27-28

Answer

Mark 2:27-28: And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."

Briefly, these verses are a finely crafted, holy response by Jesus to those who falsely accused his disciples of breaking the Sabbath when one Sabbath the disciples were walking by some fields and plucked heads of grain and rubbed them together in their hands and ate the kernels (Mark 2:23-28; cf. Matt. 12:1-8; Luke 6:1-5). The Pharisees had made their false accusations by using the example of David in 1 Samuel 21:1-6 where David had eaten some consecrated bread that only the priests were supposed to eat. Jesus' point was that just as the bread served the practical needs of David, the disciples’ gleaning served their practical needs as well. He concluded his scriptural argument with Mark 2:27-28.

Now that we understand a little of the background, in Mark 2:27-28, Jesus made at least two devastating points regarding the theology of the Pharisees: (1) the Sabbath was for mankind and thus wasn't supposed to be a burden for them, and (2) Jesus himself is the Lord of the Sabbath. In other words, the I AM THAT I AM is in charge of it (Exod. 3:14).

As to the first point, the Pharisees had made the Sabbath a burden. They placed ungodly restrictions upon God's people (cg. Matt. 23:4, 13; Luke 11:46) which weren't included within God's law (Exod. 20:8-11; 31:14-17; Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:12-15). By their false doctrine they had made a celebration an immense burden. However, God alone has the right to determine man's responsibilities on his Sabbath. In essence, the disciples weren't breaking God's law, but just the ungodly Pharisaical restrictions, so Jesus reminded the Pharisees of God's original intent of his Sabbath.

The Pharisees did something similar to Jesus when he healed a man on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11). In this case Jesus asked his accusers, “’Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent" (Mark 3:4). Why the silence? Because, it's more than okay to do good on the Sabbath (cf. Luke 14:5).

Jesus' second argument in Mark 2:27-28 was just as devastating to the Pharisees’ false accusation against the disciples. He says, “The Son of Man [Jesus] is Lord even of the Sabbath." In other words, it's his and he's in charge. He is the Sovereign One who makes the Sabbath rules. In their pride as teachers of the law, the Pharisees had not only promoted their restrictions of the Sabbath above God's law, but were even attempting to rebuke the Lawgiver himself!

Related Topics

The Old/New Testament Church
What is the Visible / Invisible Church?
Is the Sabbath Saturday or Sunday?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).