Disputing the Sabbath in Mark 2–3 video discussion

Because Easter was earlier this year, the readings in ‘ordinary time’ begin in Trinity 1 with Mark 2.23–3.6 which is not always included when Easter is later.

At first, this appears to be a pair of incidents about Sabbath law and whether it still applies to followers of Jesus. In fact, it sits within Jewish debates about the interpretation and purpose of the Torah, and Jesus’ authority to interpret it. So it is more about who Jesus is than what Torah teaches.

Come and join Ian and James as they explore these issues.

Full written commentary behind the discussion will be in the next post.

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10 thoughts on “Disputing the Sabbath in Mark 2–3 video discussion”

  1. Does Sabbath ‘observance’ still apply to Christians today, particularly Gentiles? He did, after all, do away with, for example, the food laws. Im not sure when the church moved the Sabbath from Sat to Sun, but that would seem a rather major shift in itself.

    And what does Sabbath observance actually mean, if it does still apply? There are quite a few jobs which are done on a Sunday. Should they be stopped? If one of the main reasons for the Sabbath in the first place was for man to rest from work just as God ‘rested’, that would not seem to apply today as many people, at least in the west, have more than 1 day off per week.

    • PC1 – the first day comes from 1 Corinthians 16:2 which indicates that Christian worship meetings (where they would give their tithes) was on the first day (i.e. Sunday). I think there is also a reference in Revelation.

      For your second paragraph – there is something very important here, about creation, which seems paradoxical. God is above and almighty and creator of everything – that includes the laws of nature; it also includes the creation ordinance of Genesis 2, which involve the Sabbath rest.

      Yet nature (God’s creation) does not stop for a Sabbath rest; it keeps pressing on. We get hungry on Sundays, we need to keep warm on Sundays, there are medical emergencies on Sundays which require immediate treatment …… Important to try and preserve the principle of a Sabbath rest here without degenerating into a Pharisaical legalism.

      • Thanks Jock. Just to clarify, was the first day of the week what we call Sunday? Are you getting that from the Sabbath being the last ‘day’ per Genesis 1?

        I think youre saying observing the Sabbath still does apply, but just not to take to extremes. Ok but many Christians, for example, watch tv on a Sunday or listen to the radio, which require people to be working. Not quite the same as eating or medical treatment. Most would view such activities as unnecessary. And of course most shops are now open.

        In doing such things, are we in fact breaking one of God’s commandments, indeed one of those written in stone?

        • PC1 – yes, I take Genesis 1 to mean that the day on which God rested was the last day of the week, the Sabbath.

          Yes, but I’m not sure that the word ‘extremes’ describes it properly. It is completely clear, both from Holy Scripture and from experience that we all need the Spiritual rest of the creation ordinance – but in a fallen world, we have to exercise some discretion about what this actually means in practice. Also, that any legalistic formulation ‘do this, don’t do that, under some circumstances described under canon law section x paragraph y subsection z, doing that is permitted – only be sure that you’ve understood the small print …’ is wholly at odds with the Christian mind-set and – as you rightly point out – can lead to very great sin – behaviour that is at odds with the basic commandments of ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’

          • Hi Jock,
            Where in the Gospels do we find Jesus taking Sunday off , or even a Sunday afternoon nap? Or a Sabbath snooze? Jesus fulfilled scripture by resting in the tomb. He is our rest, our Sabbath.

    • The Lord Jesus did not do away with the food laws, he only declared ‘all foodstuff pure’ (καθαριζον παντα τα βρωματα), the laws on purity are not the laws of kashrut. He never declared all foodstuff kosher, hence the debate raging on in the early church between Peter and Paul. This would never have happened if the matter had been settled by a dominical commandment. Besides, we still flout explicit apostolic prohibitions on the matter, the Noahide food laws that the apostles declared binding on gentile converts regardless (Acts 15.28ff.)

    • Also, is there any parallel with 1 kings 13:4?
      It makes me think the unnamed man had previously criticised Jesus .

    • I think the interesting point about Jesus’ instruction to the man with the withered arm is that he told him to do the thing he could not do. The man had the faith to attempt to do the impossible.

      I do not see the parallel with Eve.

      • Eve parallel seemed to me to be the inverse. but you are right, there is no parallel. I commented before thinking! Eve took, she did not ‘reach out’.
        The only other ‘reaching out’ is in 1Kings 13:4. In that case his hand withered. I wonder if Mark intends us to see the similarity.


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