An Adventist friend, a good friend but a theological “adversary” posted on Facebook today:
“If the Sabbath was given only during the time of Moses and according to Jesus “the Sabbath was MADE for MAN” (Mark 2:27) therefore MEN came to exist only during the time of MOSES!” “As long as MAN exists, the SABBATH should also exists because the SABBATH was MADE for MAN.”
A common Adventist argumentation, this interpretation rises and falls on the “correct” interpretation of the context of Mark 2:27. In 2005, I posted a reply on this subject. This, however, shares a more detailed explanation on the context of Mark 2:27 and how this verse has been erroneously used by Adventists to prove a point that wasn’t there.
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In Mark 2:27-28 the Pharisees had made the 7th day Sabbath exceedingly important. They had made the Sabbath the important thing to them man’s needs were only secondary at best. Jesus wanted to make the point to the religious leaders and the people that the Sabbath was not more important than man. The Sabbath was for the benefit of the people and not the other way around. Jesus in saying that he was Lord of the Sabbath was pointing out that he possessed the ultimate authority over the Sabbath. I like the way the Jerusalem Bible puts it, “…so the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath.” In other words, the Pharisees do not have the authority to condemn Jesus over what they considered a Sabbath violation for he is master and Lord of the Sabbath.
This dispute with the Pharisees arose not over the question of who was supposed to keep the Sabbath, but rather over how the Sabbath was to be kept and who had the authority to determine how the law was to be applied. The SDA belief that here Jesus is teaching that all mankind must keep the 7th day Sabbath is not found in the text. Jesus and the Pharisees knew that the Sabbath was only for the Jews. Neither Jesus nor the Pharisees were concerned with the question of who must keep the Sabbath. Such a concern is limited to the SDA church and other sabbatarians. Let us note that in the text it does not say “all mankind” but just “man”. Compare this fact with other universal text found in the New Testament and you will see a marked difference. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). “I will pour out a portion of my spirit on all mankind” (Acts 2:17). “…for he wants all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). “The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11). These universal texts contain the word “all” that is missing from Mark 2:27. The reason for this is that Mark 2:27 is not a universal text. It refers to the Jews only. This interpretation is in complete harmony with the rest of Scripture (see Exodus 16:22-23; 20:8-11; 31:16-17; Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Nehemiah 9:13-14; Ezekiel 20:12, 20).
To sum up we have a text that is not at all concerned with who was to keep the 7th day Sabbath. The concern was with who had the authority to interpret how the Sabbath was to be kept by those under the Law. The text gives no indication that it is a universal text as it simply says, “man” not “all mankind” as in universal texts. In addition we must remember that Jesus was certainly well aware that the Bible says that the 7th day Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic Covenant between God and Israel not between God and the world. Therefore, Mark 2:27-28 in no way is saying that the Sabbath is a requirement for all mankind to observe forever.
Jesus actually taught that human needs come before the legal requirements of the Law. This whole dispute with the Pharisees arose when they saw Jesus allowing his disciples to harvest grain on the Sabbath because they were hungry. “Have you not read what David did when he was in need and he and his men were hungry?” (Mark 2:25). Jesus’ point was that David “gave it to his men” (v. 26) thus he broke the legal requirement of the Law for a human need. And a greater one than David is here. “That is why the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (v. 28). The idea that all people must observe the Sabbath based on this text is a classic example of reading into a text something that is completely foreign to it.