Title:  The Law of Christ


Summary:  With divine authority, Christ demonstrates that human need and compassion are God's top values, even if it means making exceptions to certain religious practices.  This makes God's number one "religious practice" to show love and compassion, which fulfills the law of Christ.


Text:  Mark 2:23 - 3:6


Scripture Reading:  Micah 6:6-8



1.  Q: Which do you prefer, Monday or Friday?

          a.  Some feel so strongly about it, will say TGIF

          b.  Weekend, can do other things, or simply take a break, a PJ day

          c.  Anyone ever have to tell you - Stop, take a break, before you do?

          d.  Time off is necessary in order to stay at the top of your game

2.  Yahweh commanded times of rest for Israel

          a.  It was not optional

          b.  This was a reminder that they were a holy people

                    - There were holy places, like the sanctuary, and holy of holies

                    - They were to be a holy people - pure, refrain from unholy practice

                    - There was even holy time - The Sabbath was a holy day

          c.  The people were to treat God as holy by honoring holiness

                    - History showed what happened when they not treat God holy

                    - One of the greatest consequences was captivity and exile

3.  So, Jewish teachers were careful to treat God as holy

          a.  One of the concerns was not to break the Sabbath

          b.  No work to be done on the Sabbath.  Careful to define "work"

4.  Jesus clashed with the Jewish leaders on Sabbath work

          a.  They believed he treated the Sabbath flippantly

          b.  He often challenged their interpretations intentionally

          c.  In today's text, he does so very intentionally - with a miracle

          d.  (Mk 2:23 - 3:6) 2 scenes


I.  First scene - In the grain fields (Mk 2:23-28)

          A.  The issue - Breaking the Sabbath

                    1.  No work was to be done on the Sabbath

                              a.  Picking crops is work

                              b.  What's the big deal here?  It is just a little

                              c.  Little or a lot, it is STILL work

                    2.  Why the big deal?

                              a.  (Ex 20:8) Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy

                                        - This is serious stuff

                                        - It is part of God's covenant with his people

                              b.  (Lv 10:3) I will be treated as holy, I will be honored

                                        - God had just stuck down Nadab and Abihu

                                        - This holiness stuff was serious business

                              c.  Num 15:32 - Stoned man for gathering wood on Sabbath

                    3.  So, what should disciples have done?

                              a.  Ex 16 - Supposed to prepare for Sabbath on Friday!

                              b.  In wilderness, taught to gather double manna Friday

                              c.  Besides, not going to starve without food for one day!

                              d.  Maybe they could have asked neighbor for food

          B.  Jesus' response - 4 points

                    1.  v.25-26 - Cites example of David

                              a.  1 Sam 21 - Came to priest at Nob on the run from Saul

                              b.  Asked for food, nothing there except consecrated bread

                              c.  No one to eat it except the priests

                              d.  David asked for it, and priest gave it to them!

                    2.  (Mt 12:5-6) Adds that the priest break the Sabbath

                              a.  Working their duties in the temple on the Sabbath

                              b.  They are innocent, no wrong doing

                              c.  All work is not inherently evil on the Sabbath

                              d.  Something greater than the temple is here

                                        - Talking about Gospel, Kingdom, Messiah

                                        - If priests can work in service of the temple, then

  surely they can work in service of Gospel

                    3.  (Mt 12:7) Jesus quotes from Hosea 6:6

                              a.  I delight in "hesed" rather than sacrifice

                                        - Loyalty, love, mercy, covenant love

                                        - LXX translates this as eleos, "mercy"

                              b.  Hesed encompasses how you treat others

                              c.  Hos 6:7-9 - Lack of hesed evidenced in that there

     are bloody footprints, priests guilty of murder those

     coming to sanctuary to worship

                    4.  Mk 2:27 - Sabbath made for man, not man for Sabbath

                              a.  Dt 10:13 - God's commands are "for your good"

                              b.  God's concern is for their good, not arbitrary rules

                              c.  Rules are for people, not people for the rules

          C.  To settle the matter, Jesus said, "Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath"

                    1.  Many interpretations were floating around on the matter

                    2.  Regardless of their interpretations, his word is authority

          D.  Principle - Compassion is the first concern

                    1.  First question when one is in need -

                              a.  What can I do to help?

                              b.  Not - What rules keep me from helping?

                    2.  Seems unsettling?

                    3.  If choice is - Going hungry vs. A little work on Sabbath for food

                              a.  Which is the choice Jesus approves?

                              b.  The choice is compassion


II.  Second scene:  In the Synagogue (Mk 3:1-6)

          A.  They were watching him very closely

                    1.  Why?  He didn't seem to respect the Torah

                    2.  He put them all in danger of God's wrath

                    3.  Of course, problem is they didn't respect Jesus' authority and

     explanation on the Sabbath

          B.  Jesus now asks THEM a question about the Sabbath

                    1.  Which is lawful - Do good or harm?  Save life, or kill?

                              a.  Silence.  Why?  Answer might implicate them

                              b.  No 3rd option given - To do nothing.

                    2.  Doing nothing is not an option

                              a.  Even Pharisees didn't do absolutely nothing

                              b.  Mt 12:11 - Jesus refer to accepted practice on Sabbath

                                        - Animal fall into a pit, you get it out

                                        - Not leave it there in danger or wolves or suffer

                              c.  Rabbinic teaching said that some work is permissible

                                        - Talmud said doctor could do certain things

                                        - Doctor could keep person from dying or get worse

                                        - Could bandage a wound, not bleed out, but no salve

                                        - Rabbis were not heartless - Can save a life

                              d.  In many cases, doing nothing was not an option

                    3.  Pharisees not unconcerned for people, but had a greater

     concern for holiness

                              a.  Remember the Sabbath, to keep it HOLY

                              b.  Lk 13:14 - Rabbinic answer to sick person on Sabbath

                                        - 6 days of work, and only one day for Sabbath

                                        - Come and be healed on one of the 6, not Sabbath

                              c.  Man with withered hand not dying, so wait a day!

                    4.  Jesus responds to their silence

                              a.  First - Anger and grief for their hardness of heart

                              b.  Hard heart - Not mean lack of compassion

                                        - Mk 6:52; 8:17 - No insight because hard heart

                                        - Heart refers to the mind, not emotions

                                                  = We say, "I love you with all my heart"

                                                  = They said, "I love you will all my guts"

                                                  = "Heart of compassion" is literally "bowels of

   compassion" - Col 3:12

                                        - Heb 3:15 - Today, if you hear my voice, do not

  harden your hearts as when they provoked me

                                        - Hard heart = "thick headed," stubborn, disobedience

                              c. They not going to budge - thick headed, hard heart

                              d.  Second - Jesus answers his own question

                                        - Does so with healing miracle on the Sabbath

                                        - Shows divine authority and approval

                                        - Shows how to interpret holiness in this situation

          C.  Pharisee's response - Conspire to try and destroy him

                    1.  He is playing fast and loose with God's holy law

                    2.  Law of God is to be taken seriously

                              a.  Not free to set it aside

                              b.  They not going to allow God to be treated as unholy

                    3.  They had a high regard for the law of God

                    4.  Problem - They really didn't understand God

          D.  Principle:  Compassion trumps religious practice

                    1.  Is setting aside compassion (temporarily) acceptable to God?

                    2.  Pharisee would say yes, with an exception

                              a.  Exception - To keep one from dying

                              b.  Man with withered hand not in danger of dying

                              c.  Disciples not in danger of starving without grain

                    3.  Jesus says NO, it is not acceptable

                              a.  I desire compassion and not a sacrifice

                              b.  Dt 10:13 - God's statutes for your good

- Not designed to make you suffer needlessly

- If an interpretation keeps you from doing good, then

   it is a faulty interpretation

                    4.  (Jas 1:27) Pure and undefiled religion, visit orphans and widows

     in their distress

                              a.  If concerned about religious practice, this is pure religion

                              b.  If choice is between compassion & religious practice -

                                        - Not only is compassion permissible,

                                        - Compassion is expected

                              c.  If concerned about the law of Christ, isn't this unsettling


III.  Understand - This is central to the Law of Christ

          A.  We not under Law of Moses, but under the law of Christ

1.  This is what Paul says in 1 Cor 9:21

2.  We are not "lawless," because lawlessness is sin, 1 Jn 3:4

          B.  What is the Law of Christ?

                    1.  Gal 6:2 - Bear one another's burdens, fulfill law of Christ

                              a.  Law of Christ is connected to one another

                              b.  Law of Christ has people as a major concern

                    2.  Jas 2:8 - If fulfill royal law, love neighbor as self, you do well

                              a.  First part of James 2 is about how you treat others

                              b.  If you show partiality, then you are a lawbreaker

                              c.  Rom 13:10 - Love does no wrong to a neighbor, love is

     the fulfillment of the law

                    3.  Jn 13:34-35 - Jesus calls it a "New Commandment"

                              a.  Love one another as I have loved you

                              b.  By this will all men know you are my disciples

                                        - Love in same way Jesus defends hungry disciples

  picking some grain on the Sabbath

                                        - Love in same way Jesus shows compassion to a


    man with withered hand on the Sabbath

                    4.  Pharisees' problem - Motivated by love for correctness, but not

     love for people

                              a.  Didn't understand that love for people IS correct

                              b.  Greatest command - Love God AND love neighbor

                              c.  Way of loving God is to love your neighbor

                              d.  Sickness that is not unto death, not big enough for

    Pharisees to set aside a religious practice for compassion

                                        -  But it is big enough for Christ, even on a Sabbath

                                        -  Not just the big things, but little things that matter

          C.  ILL:  Can you think of examples for us?   We don't have Sabbath

                    1.  Food Pantry hours, 9 to Noon.

                              a.  Person showed up after we locked the doors

                              b.  Teresea - "I'm not turning him away"

                              c.  By the way - Our Food Pantry is warm, not institutional

                                        - Seen others, no different than going to govt office

                                        - We take personal interest in those who come

                    2.  Dale visited Roy, had been in wreck at hospital all night

                              a.  Roy was all alone and afraid

                              b.  Even though a leader, he didn't go to church, but stayed

                    3.  A lady showed up for worship, was all teary-eyed

                              a.  A sister sat by her, and then took her to another room

                              b.  She encouraged her, sat with her, encouraged her

                    4.  Church in Texas, they do "Lab" on Wednesday evening

                              a.  Not stay at building, but go out and serve, comfort people

                              b.  Put into practice what they have been studying

                    5.  We Care Campaigns, someone come in for baptism

                              a.  Even during the Sermon, they will stop and do it

                              b.  Person matters more than the service

                    6.  Plattsmouth CofC - Set aside room in building for person with no

     place to stay

                              a.  Set up a bed, and some other furniture

                              b.  Free to use the kitchen

                              c.  Building not just for services, but to help people too

                    7.  Church sent building fund to help starving people in Africa

                    8.  On way to church, stop to help broken down lady & kids

                    9.  Maybe you can think of other examples of this principle

          D.  Principle is clear - Compassion trumps religious practice

                    1.  It is too easy to be like the Pharisees, especially if high regard

     for the Word of God

                    2.  But the Word says to love your neighbor as yourself

                    3.  Jesus didn't wait to be asked, he healed the man

                    4.  We don't wait to be asked either - Because of compassion



1.  God loves you so much, he did something unconventional

          a.  Became flesh and died, then rose for you

          b.  (inv)

2.  If you have responded to Gospel - Highest value is compassion

          a.  We serve, are kind, compassionate, and available

          b.  God is concerned for people, and so are we

3.  It is never a choice between religious practice or compassion

          a.  Pure an undefiled religion - to show compassion for people

          b.  (Micah 6:6-8)