Sabbath distraction

By Roy Stetler
June 2, 2024

In the second and third chapters of Mark, certain religious leaders are more concerned about institutional religion than about individuals.  Jesus grieves the failing religious institutions.  His teaching suggests that it will only be a matter of time before the temple is destroyed and new human structures will arise.

Unlike the religious leaders and their institutions, Jesus cared about the sick, the poor, the mentally ill and spiritually oppressed, the disabled, the people that were desperate for meaning, purpose, and hope.  He encouraged folks to practice healthy relationships in the context of community.  Jesus taught and practiced God’s intimate care for each person.   He knew that the Good News is about people led by the Spirit, not on institutions.

In particular, Jesus makes sabbath space for his disciples to eat fresh plucked roadside wheat berries.  Jesus likewise values a man with a paralyzed hand above sabbath rules.  By doing so he challenges comfortably powerful religious people to practice love rather than to criticize and judge with broken, selfish motives.

I hear Jesus challenging us today to do likewise—be led by the Spirit to care for the people nearby, and far; and to not place institutions above the people they are called to serve.  The Spirit is not dependent on the institutions we create.  We do well to place our trust in God’s Spirit alone.

May we be generous and love selflessly, person to person.  Amen.