Mark: Pharisees are Confused about Fasting and Lord of the Sabbath

Read: Mark 2:18-28

The Pharisees continue to rack up evidence against Jesus in these two observations: 1) Jesus’ disciples aren’t fasting like they’re supposed to, and 2) Jesus and his disciples broke the law by plucking some heads of grain on the Sabbath.

These two issues are dealt with directly:

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. Mark 2:19-20

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? Mark 2:25

Both of these answers completely confused the Pharisees. They were so committed to their laws, their rules, their way of life, they were (most of them) unable to see the bigger picture.

Here’s a thought:

  • Why does God highlight the Pharisees in the Gospel record of Jesus’ life?
  • Why do we read so much about the Pharisees?

There is no doubt that Jesus was unhappy with the Pharisees–clearly they have misplaced priorities and have created a system of religion that is centered on their system rather than God. That’s not my question. Why focus so much attention on them?

Some of the reason has to be related to how we have built our version of the church versus the way Jesus intended the church to be built.

Church planting seems to be a big movement, or at least it appears so from my vantage point. Starting a new church when we have some 350,000 churches in this country doesn’t seem to make sense until you look at demographic reports and do the math. But what if 1,000 of these existing churches experienced reformation? This is part of Tom Planck’s vision for Healthy Growing Churches, creating a new culture, a transfusion of sorts, to reenergize the body of Christ by focusing on church health and multiplication. Growing the kingdom on earth today, one church at a time.

Are we willing to say we have become like the Pharisees?

What if we created a Pharisaical Assessment that graded individuals on their tendency toward being like the Pharisees? A score of 100 identifies those found in verses 18 and 24 of the reading above (and many others in the New Testament). This would be a challenging instrument to create for sure. In fact, just creating it would suggest that we have superior knowledge, that we are just a little bit holier than the other guy, so we would get Pharisaical points to start with! But we must ask ourselves the question: are we being like the Pharisees?

Please help me by creating this list of Pharisaical traits. We are acting like the Pharisees when we:

  • quote scripture to a non-believer
  • use scripture to defend our superior wisdom
  • fight about Bible translations
  • insist only paid staff baptize people
  • serve communion by officially ordained pastors
  • (fill in the blank)

Lord, I don’t want to be known as a Pharisee. It’s the least of my desires. How can I be a disciple maker if I tend toward being a Pharisee? How can I effectively share the Gospel, the compelling, crazy, life-changing story of Jesus, if I’m focused on man-made rules? Help me to see clearly when I’m acting proud and haughty, when I’ve elevated myself above others and lost sight of your desire for us to love God and love people more than any other law, commandment, or rule.



Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.

Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.