Legalism is False Piety (Mk.2:23-3:6)

Then 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.” (Mk.2:27-28)

False Piety

The Pharisees were self righteous and legalistic in their attitude. They stretched the laws into unwanted details to show their piety and to accuse others of their sinfulness. Plucking heads of grain while walking through the fields was interpreted as harvesting or gathering grain. The Law commands them to rest on the Sabbath from their labor and forbids them from working. Jesus gave the right perspective: Law was made for man and not man made for the Law. The Sabbath was instituted for the benefit of man and man was more important than the Sabbath itself. Further more, Jesus was the Lord of all. What you do with Jesus is of greater importance than mere observance of the Law.


As in our times, the deliberate misinterpretation of the law was used to trap people in those days. Being legalistic is not necessarily being law-abiding. The intention and motive matters in our observance of the rules. The Law-giver is greater than the Law itself.

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