“One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying 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 was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?’ 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.'” Mark 2:23-28
The Pharisees were accomplished at nitpicking, criticism, and complaint. They were sticklers for the law, only the law that they followed was not the law the Lord commanded. They were so tuned into minutiae that they had no grasp of God’s broader heart. It is as though they looked for opportunity to pick at every pluck, and failed to enjoy any sort of Sabbath rest or spiritual depth in their soul. They’d let desires for other things enter in and choke the word’s influence and intent. (Deuteronomy 4:2; Mark 4:14,18-19; 7:9)
But Jesus upends our shallow, transitory, trivial thinking. His high purposes far transcend our narrow and provincial concerns. While often we see what is amiss or look for error or to make excuses, Jesus has lessons to teach us that are significant, meaningful, and far reaching. We act as though the world revolves around us and our ideas and opinions in our important small universe, when God says reach beyond and higher to the beauties of the plans I intend for you in my vast world. Can we not see beyond legalistic thorns to the provision, grace, and upright character of God? Would we not be easily offended or immediately confrontational, but rather watch and listen and seek what the Lord would have us understand?
The next time we face irritation with another child of God, how will we respond? Can you believe that? or Lord, what can I believe anew about You? Are we prickly about dos and don’ts but forget Jesus is Lord of both, and all?
“I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining ev’ry day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
‘Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.’
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught a joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
‘Lord, lead me on to higher ground.’
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith, on heaven’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” ~Johnson Oatman (1856-1922)
And there may I think as You think, and live graciously, undeterred by Satan’s darts.