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Sabbath School Lessons on Jesus Through the Eyes of Mark
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 3: Sabbath Healings and Hard Hearts *
Introduction: Recently, I was skimming over an article that argued
that Jesus' treatment of the Sabbath teaches us that we should no
longer observe it. Is this true? What was Jesus trying to teach us in
His treatment of the Sabbath? Let's dive into God's word and see if
we can understand Jesus' lesson for us!
- Sabbath Harvest
- Read Mark 2:23-24. Are the Jewish leaders concerned about
stealing or Sabbath-breaking? (Read Deuteronomy 23:24-25.
What the disciples were doing was not considered
- Why would this be considered a violation of the
Sabbath? (Moses prohibited a number of things on the
Sabbath, such as building a fire. ( Exodus 35:3.)
Nothing is written, however, about snacking on grain.
The Jewish leaders must be alleging that the
disciples are working (harvesting)on Sabbath. (Exodus
20:8-10; Exodus 34:21.))
- If you were Jesus, how would you answer this charge?
("What are you, nuts? What they are doing is not
- Read Mark 2:25-26. How did Jesus answer this? (He said
"David also broke the rules.")
- Alright, parents, I need your opinion here. Your one
child does something that violates the household
rules. When you reprimand that child, he says, "Jane
disobeys too!" What do you think about that kind of a
- Jesus has a perfectly good and simple defense - "It's
not work." He cannot be choosing a defense we would
not accept from our children. He must be arguing
something else. What is it?
- Are there any circumstances in which the "others do
it" defense would be valid? (Yes. There are three.
First, personal exceptions. The person violating the
law is an exception and has a right to violate the
law. Airport employees get to park in special,
close-in parking. If you park there, it is okay if
you can say, "I'm also an airport employee." David
was about to become King of Israel. Jesus may be
arguing that He, too, is entitled to king privileges.
Second, exceptions of circumstance. Perhaps being (v.
25) "hungry and in need" is a valid exception to the
Sabbath rule - human need supercedes the Sabbath
rule. Third, an invalid rule. You talk about others
violating the law if the law is not really a valid,
enforceable law. You say, "It is okay to drive ten
miles an hour over the speed limit. Everyone does it,
and the police will not stop you.")
- Which of these three arguments do you think
Jesus is making? (Read Mark 2:27-28. If, in
verse 28, Jesus is not saying that He has
special personal privileges (the "I'm a King
too, argument"), He is at least saying "As the
King I'm entitled to say what violates the
Sabbath." In verse 27 Jesus is teaching
something about the nature of the Sabbath. This
seems to be the "human need" argument.)
- To get a better picture of this, let's consult Matthew
12:3-7. Matthew gives us a fuller view of Jesus'
argument. With this greater insight, which of these two
alternative arguments is Jesus making? (David is an
exception, the priests are an exception to the rule. Jesus
is plainly arguing that He is an exception to the rule.)
- What do you think that Jesus means in Matthew 12:7
when He quotes Hosea 6:6 "I desire mercy, not
sacrifice?" (Go slow on hurling accusations.)
- Let's go back to Mark 2:27. How do you understand this
verse? (Jesus is saying more than "I'm the King, the guys
with Me have a pass on the Sabbath rules." He is telling
the Jewish leaders that He disagrees with their view of
the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made to be a blessing to
humans. Its purpose was to benefit humans. It was not an
arbitrary regulation to be held above human need.)
- Sabbath Healing
- Read Mark 3:1-2. What made them think Jesus might heal on
- Read Mark 3:3. The Jewish leaders thought they needed to
watch closely to see if Jesus violated the law. They were
going to "catch Him." How does Jesus react to that? (He
calls the shriveled hand guy up front and center so no one
can miss this!)
- Read Mark 3:4-5. What is Jesus teaching us about observing
- Is there anything in what Jesus said which would
cause you to believe that He did not believe in
Sabbath-keeping? (Jesus is clearly arguing what
should be the proper standard for Sabbath-keeping,
not whether there should be any standards.)
- Jesus could have healed the shriveled hand guy the
next day. Why should He be angry at those who wanted
to err on the "conservative" side? (When I was
growing up in religious schools, I endured all sorts
of rules. It never occurred to me that having all of
these rules might in itself be a sin. It seemed that
only violating the rules could be a sin. Only in
recent years have I begun to understand the
Deuteronomy 4:2 principle: it is just as wrong to add
rules God has not required as it is to teach you can
ignore the rules which God has required. Both put you
in the position of usurping God.)
- Pet Names
- Read Mark 3:13-19. I have heard it said that Jesus never
"called" Judas. These verses show that this is not true.
Why would Jesus call someone to be an apostle who would
eventually betray Him?
- In the "roll-call" of apostles, which apostle is
named first? (Peter. This is further evidence that
Mark worked with Peter and that this gospel account
reflects Peter's sermons.)
- Which apostles get "nick-names?" What does this show?
(It generally shows special affection. My wife teases
me by pointing out that my father had a nick-name for
my brother, but not for me!)
- Grieving the Holy Spirit
- Let's go back and read Mark 3:6 and then skip down and
read Mark 3:22. Do you think the Jewish leaders believed
that Jesus was allied with the prince of demons? ( Mark 3:6
reveals that they were in a "get rid of Him" mode. Thus, I
think it unlikely they truly believed these charges.)
- Read Mark 3:23-27. What logic does Jesus use to oppose the
"prince of demons" charge?
- Should we apply Jesus' logic to competing, non-Christian religions today, which teach positive moral
- The world was rocked this week by the death of Pope
John Paul. I admired him because of his strong stand
on the most controversial moral issues of the day.
For example, he took a rock-steady position against
abortion, while my own church allows abortions to be
performed in its hospitals. For the past several
years, my church's most prominent moral stand on a
public social issue has been against smoking! ("When
everyone agrees, we will firmly put our foot down!")
Yet, some I know would charge that the Pope was
allied with Beelzebub. How do you understand and
apply Jesus' teachings to those charges against the
- Read Mark 3:28-29. Has Jesus changed topics? Is He off on
another subject? (No.)
- These are some of the most frightening words of the
Bible. What does Jesus say about wrongly attributing
to Satan the work of God? (Jesus says this is the
"eternal sin." Some refer to this as the
- The context of the charges against Jesus is His
healings. Does this mean that if I see a faith-healer
who preaches Jesus, and I charge that he is working
by the power of Satan, that I have committed the
- What if I charge that any Christian leader is in
league with Satan, have I committed the
- Or, does Jesus only mean that if I close my mind to
the working of the Holy Spirit, that I have committed
the unpardonable sin?
- Is Jesus referring here to a single statement,
or an attitude of the heart? (My view is that
Jesus is speaking of an attitude of the heart,
and inaccurate and defamatory statements about
fellow Christians is not the unpardonable sin.
However, I would counsel great caution in this
area because you do not want to be wrong!)
- Friend, Jesus did not teach us to violate the Sabbath.
Instead, He taught us how to better understand what it
means to keep the Sabbath. The controversy over Sabbath-keeping, and the charges made against Jesus teach us that
we need to be careful about hurling accusations against
fellow Christians simply because they may disagree with us
on certain points. God asks us to show mercy. Will you?
- Next week: By Galilee.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.