One Sabbath He was going through the grain fields, 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 (ESV)
Where is the cavalry when you need them? Remember the stories in which the main character is surrounded and surely doomed—and then at the last moment, the cavalry arrives, and all is well?
In Mark chapter 2 we see the conflict Jesus encountered with the Pharisees who were looking for opportunities to attack Him through His disciples. Their objection was that this particular occasion occurred on the Sabbath. Of the 39 main categories of work forbidden on the Sabbath in the Mishnah, the third was reaping—and Jewish tradition expanded on Mosaic law by legalistically interpreting even casual conduct as labor.
To draw out a deeper spiritual principle, Jesus tells the story of David and his men violating ceremonial law by eating loaves of consecrated bread when they were in need and hungry. He points out the similarity between Himself and David—and how His disciples were plucking heads of grain because they were in need and hungry. He reasons that if David had the right to ignore a divinely ordained ceremonial provision when necessity demanded it—then God’s Son has a far more eminent right to set aside a totally unwarranted, man-made Sabbath regulation.
Jesus is challenging them that legalism in the observance of the letter of the law actually violates the spirit of the law. Mankind was not created for the purpose of observing the Sabbath—the Sabbath was created for the benefit of mankind. The Pharisees failed to recognize that Jesus was not a breaker of the Sabbath, but the Creator of it! Jesus powerfully comes to the defense of His disciples—like the cavalry—and backs off those who would attack and criticize.
Recently I was complaining that the cavalry never seems to come when I need it. And then I realized—I—yes, I—following the example of Jesus might be the cavalry for others! Am I missing opportunities to fill a much needed role of rescuer for vulnerable individuals around me?
Lord, please allow me to be Your cavalry—providing much needed relief and a perfectly timed godly show of strength—for others.