Mark 2:18-28: The Pharisees had a Meltdown when Jesus Turned their World Upside Down

Who were the Pharisees? They picked on Jesus A LOT! Why? Because what Jesus was saying, teaching, and doing was contrary to their Jewish ideology. Jesus turned their world — the Jewish, religious world — upside down! Let’s dig in….

Mark 2:18-28 – Discussions about Fasting and the Sabbath

18 Once when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and asked, “Why don’t your disciples fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees do?”

19 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. 20 But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

21 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

22 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.”

A Discussion about the Sabbath

23 One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. 24 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”

25 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 26 He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.”

27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

Mark 2:18-28 NLT

What’s All This About?

First, who were the Pharisees?

The Pharisees were a religious AND political party during the Roman occupation of Israel. To help keep the Jews from adapting Roman paganism, they added on to the Old Testament Laws of Moses. That was the Jewish Talmud. Pastor Sandy Adams comments…

The Jewish Talmud had 24 chapters on how to keep the Sabbath holy. It was a full-time job just to keep all the rules. Jews looked forward to the end of the Sabbath, to rest from the rigors of trying to obey it. And one of their stipulations was you couldn’t grind grain on the Sabbath – not even between your palms. That was work… and a violation of the Sabbath law. This was the infraction used to incriminate Jesus.

Yet here’s the irony… another of the Sabbath rules was that a person couldn’t travel more than 3000 feet from his home on the Sabbath. The fact the Jews were in the fields watching Jesus indicates they had broken their own laws to spy on Jesus and His disciples.

Sandy Adams

Jesus’ Responses to the Pharisees are Important Points

Regarding Fasting

Old vs New

Pastor Sandy Adams explains…

Put a patch [of new cloth] on some well-worn Levis. When the jeans are washed the patch shrinks. The jeans, however, don’t, and it pulls the patch loose. In other words, what existed and served a purpose in the past, isn’t always able to accommodate the new…

…Pour new wine into a dry, brittle flask – when the wine ferments and expands, it bursts the flask, and spills the wine. This why you put new wine into new wineskins! You need a new container that’s supple and pliable – that can accommodate the vitality of the new wine. On one level, Jesus is comparing Judaism to an old wineskin.

The new wine of the Spirit made the Jewish traditions and rituals obsolete. The Law restrained the individual. The Spirit empowers us. The new wine of God’s grace will never fit in the brittle bottle of legalism. A new wineskin is needed… Christians live by faith! But these words also have an broader application.

God still does new things, and when He does we have to be flexible, and willing to change our approach! If we’re stuck in a rut, the Spirit will move past us. He’ll work through others! Recall the last words of a dying church, “We’ve always done it that way.” When God does a new thing, we have to replace brittle ways of thinking with the new, and flexible approaches.

Sandy Adams
  • The “Old” represents the Old Covenant, which was righteousness by law.
  • The “New” represents the New Covenant, which is righteousness by FAITH in Jesus Christ.

Regarding the Sabbath

The Sabbath, which means “rest”, was created by God for people to take a day of rest after working 6 days. Believe me, as a former workaholic, you need at least one day of rest. I almost killed myself trying to work every single day. Ironically, I got more done when I was well rested.

We find the Sabbath law in the Book of Exodus. It’s part of the 10 Commandments. Which reads…

“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

Exodus 20:8-11 NLT

Religion Enslaves People

You can't be free if you're a slave to religion.
You are never free if you’re a slave to religion!

If you think you’re righteous enough to get into Heaven, then you’re not ready.

Why did Jesus always answer a question with a question?

He had the perfect tactic. When someone asked Him a question, He would answer with another question. This accomplished several things…

  1. Jesus kept control of the conversation.
  2. It got the person or people thinking about themselves.
  3. When they answered the question, they talked themselves into the answer of their first question.

An expert in this is Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason. Check out this video. That’s me calling into his show…

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

My Testimony

New Wine

Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

Top image by Good News Productions International from (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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