Mark 2:23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?

27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

3:1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:

11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.

12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;

13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.


MEMORY VERSE: But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully. —1 Timothy 1:8


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Because of the blindness and corruptness of man’s heart, the law that God gave by Moses was misused, misapplied, and corrupted by traditions and commandments of men.




Some of the greatest problems that Jesus encountered in dealing with the Jews and the Pharisees had to do with the Sabbath Day. We have two cases mentioned in our lesson today about this misuse of the law. It is very easy to be legalistic about a carnal commandment and lose sight of the real essence and purpose of the law. God never instituted any of His laws just to put man in a strait jacket or bondage. God’s laws for mankind were given with man’s betterment and profit in mind.

The law had provided (Deuteronomy 23:25) that one could pluck corn from his neighbor’s land when passing thereby. But the Pharisees had lost sight of the true essence of the law. They counted the picking of the handfuls of grain as work that was forbidden. Because of limited space, we did not include in the scripture text of the lesson what Jesus said in response to the Pharisees’ condemnation of the disciples. But He reminded them of a time when David broke the law of the tabernacle by eating of the shewbread when he was hungry. Reading the story from 1 Samuel 21 shows that David, in his flight from Saul, was in a real strait. God was merciful to David.

God had instituted His laws for the profit of mankind. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man; that is, it was made for the profit and benefit of man. Man was not made for the Sabbath. If he had been made for the Sabbath, then the spirit of the law would have to be satisfied regardless. Jesus also said that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. What did He mean? Harmonizing with the context, we are persuaded that He meant that the Sabbath was His dominion and He could handle and control it as He willed.

See the misuse and corruption that the Pharisees had allowed in their hearts concerning the law? The man with the withered hand could not be healed on the Sabbath, according to their way of thinking. And yet at the same time, they had allowed traditions to creep in that would excuse a man from supporting his parents in their time of need if he would give the money to the priests and Pharisees. Jesus sternly rebuked such evil. We have the same problems today. There is a danger of having a law spirit, and failing to realize the mercy and goodness of God.




  1. The Pharisees were endeavoring to uphold which law?
  2. Is it possible to become unreasonable in upholding the law?
  3. In what way was the Sabbath made for man?
  4. What had the Pharisees done to the law?
  5. Can you think of how this can be done today?

—Bro. Leslie Busbee




Besides bringing mankind into condemnation and guilt because of sin and disobedience, the law contained a danger of being corrupted. Along with the law sprang up twisted traditions and formal obligations, imposed by the leaders of Israel. The law commanded: “Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.” But somehow through the years, because of covetousness, the idea crept in that if a man would give the money that he would ordinarily use for the support of his parents to the Pharisees and the priests, he would be free from the obligation of taking care of his parents. Think of the mothers and fathers who suffered! This tradition had crept into the law system and the leaders held it over the people as important as the law. Think of the money that was padding the pocket of the temple leaders. Their tradition had a religious cast that attracted many. “Give your money to the Church!” Covetousness had taken hold of the people’s hearts. They made the commandments of none effect through holding this tradition over the people.

This is something that has hindered the work of the Lord many times. The taking advantage of the law for a man’s own personal promotion or benefit is corruption of the law. It is very easy to just obey and do without really understanding the principles and essence of the law. God does not want this. To go through a motion or a ritual or a form of worship is not sufficient with God. He desires a person’s heart and understanding to be enlightened so that he or she can be aware of just what is taking place in his or her relationship with the Lord.

Religion can be just a form. “Do this and you will be blessed.” That is the religion of so many, and it is a law spirit. The kind, compatible, merciful attitude is gone. There is no love or mercy or forbearance. It becomes a cold, hard, legalistic procedure. This leaves the way open for corruptions and misuse of the law. May God help us to keep in view the real end of the commandment which is “charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1 :5).

—Bro. Leslie Busbee




While teaching in the temple, Jesus was dealing with a crowd of self-righteous people and told them a parable of two men who went up into the temple to pray. It starts out describing two very different types of men; the one was a Pharisee and the other was a publican.

Let’s take a look at the Pharisee. The title alone sets him apart, as he had great knowledge of the laws and gave strict adherence to the commandments. As we observe the Pharisee walk into the temple to pray, we will notice that he has clean hands and his clothing is of quality material. His posture is regal and stately. As he adjusts his robes, he senses the presence of another and looks over to see a publican who is also making a petition. Inwardly the Pharisee is thinking, “What is this publican doing here? Did he not know that this was a place of complete holiness and protocol? And look at those garments! Oh well, on to the task at hand. Maybe he needs to see what a righteous man looks like. I will make sure that I speak loud enough for him to hear so that he may be able to follow my example.” The Pharisee then clears his throat and starts to speak, “I am so thankful to you Lord that I have never had to stoop to cheating or stealing or other criminal acts for my daily bread. I am grateful to say that I have never treated anyone unjustly nor have I ever been unfaithful to my wife. I am blessed, Lord, that I have been spared the life of sin, even as this publican. You know my frame and how that I want to serve you in all things and how that I fast twice in the week even when it is not easy or convenient. I am thankful for all the blessings that you have bestowed upon me as it allows me to give abundantly to the work of the Lord. May I ever be your humble servant. Amen.”

Our attention now turns to the publican. He is standing there stoop shouldered, ashamed of the deeds he has committed. His eyes are not able to reach the heavens so he looks down in contemplation, “What words are there to say? How does one petition the Holy God of Israel?” His voice breaks with emotion as he tries to speak, even as his fist doubles up. Finally, he beats his fist against his chest and utters, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Jesus tells us that only the publican went away justified. And yet, in this parable there were two sinners…

—Sis. LaDawna Adams