Guest Post: Mark Two by Andrew Peterson

Each week throughout the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, we will have a guest post from various pastors, church planters, missionaries, professors, bloggers, etc. I will always post them on Tuesdays. This week, Andrew Peterson has provided his reflections on Mark's second chapter.

Andrew is a pastor at CityVision Church, a one-year old church plant in St. Louis Park. His role at CityVision is to equip the saints for ministry by living as a disciple-maker who proclaims the gospel in word and deed, while developing leaders and loving his neighbors. Andrew is passionate about declaring the Word of God and seeing His kingdom advanced through the establishment and multiplication of the local church. Andrew and his wife Brittany love spending time with their kids Avery (3) and Judah (1), eating nachos, watching baseball, and staying indoors this time of year.

An Invitation to Rest

Rest is an evasive thing. Most of us are unfamiliar with what it entails. Even if we knew what it meant, who has time? Between work, school, sports, meal preparation, shopping, laundry, dishes, snowplowing, family time, traffic-jams, etc., who can find time, or even justify resting?

In his book titled The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan rightly labels American culture saying, “In America, busyness is fetish, stillness is laziness, and rest is sloth.”

As I read through Mark 2 this week I couldn’t get Jesus’ teaching of Sabbath out of my head. To make matters worse, while studying at a coffee shop a customer casually asked what I was working on. I informed her that I was reading through Mark 2 trying to discern whether I should write about Jesus’ display of miraculous power (2:1-12) or his desire for our rest (2:23-28). She adamantly told me not to write about rest, saying, “No one knows how to rest, and they’ll only feel guilty for not resting.”

Now, I grew up with three sisters, so I’m used to doing the opposite of what I’m told! But in all seriousness, this remark only cauterized in my heart the need to emphasize it! It reiterated the fact that I already knew, people are busy, stressed, anxious, and maxed out.

And God gives us a way out, through a gift of rest called the Sabbath.

Here’s the big idea: “The Sabbath (rest) was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27).

God intends for us to rest. His word for us to rest is both wise (as it is a necessary part of human health and flourishing), and loving (as He cares about our health and flourishing).

The book of Mark has much to say about Jesus’ identity and ministry. Mark 2:23-28 reveals two important points about Jesus: 1) His authority; 2) His loves.  

Jesus' Authority

Jesus has unparalleled authority. His authority is from God above, because he is from God above. While taking a Sabbath stroll with his disciples, Jesus seemingly allows them to “break the law” by standing by as they pluck heads of grain to eat, breaking the Sabbath.

When called out by the Pharisees, Jesus justifies their actions by appealing to King David who did something similar (1 Sam 21:1-6). In doing this he not only offends the Pharisees by putting himself on an equal playing field with the highly esteemed king of old, but he also claims authority over the Sabbath itself (v.28).

Jesus is the Lord of the law. As the very author of the law, he is able to interpret it with great depth and accuracy, getting to the heart and purpose of the commandment rather than setting for the simple instruction.

The issue wasn't that the disciples plucked heads of grain, just as the issue isn’t if or how we observe the Sabbath today. The issue is that we’re lazy or legalistic with Sabbath observance. We either disregard it all together, or we treat the Sabbath as an ordinance that must be observed to please God.

Jesus' Love

By interpreting the point of the Sabbath command, Jesus shows his love for his people. While the Pharisees had observed the Sabbath to please God, Jesus teaches that the purpose of the Sabbath is our health and flourishing. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

The Pharisees had gotten Sabbath all wrong, as we often do. Sabbath observance is not our gift to God; it is God’s gift to us.

Sabbath, a day of rest, is a chance for us to be reminded that we’re not in control, God is. We don’t have to work a seventh day to provide because God is our sole-provider. We don’t have to make a name for ourselves because God is making a name for Himself. We don’t have to tidy up our lives to be praised by others because God is the only one worthy of praise.

Observing the Sabbath reminds us that God is God, and we can rest assured. The Sabbath is meant to remind you of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and sovereignty.  

Rest. Say no to a few things, and let God’s gift of rest allow you to rest.