Christ declared Himself as Lord of the Sabbath, not the substitute for it. He made us a kingdom of priests (Exo 19:6, Rev 1:6, 1Pet 2:9). It is the duty of his church to protect, guard (‘shamar’) the holiness of the Lord’s Day against profanation (Dt 5:11). We need to pay attention to the fact (‘zakar’) that God made it a special day (Ex 20:8).
Mark introduces a thematic connection between the first Adam and the Second Adam. The ministry of Jesus Christ is presented as a reversal of the catastrophic ministry of the first Adam.
Before sin, paradise was a sanctuary, a temple-garden.
As king, Adam guarded (shamar) the garden. In the Pentateuch, his term describes the guarding of the holiness of God’s sanctuary against profanation.
Adam served the Lord as priest by his ‘work’ and his ‘care’ (Gen 2:15). In the Books of Moses, this word pair always points to the framework of the Levitical priesthood.
As prophet Adam, proclaimed the Lordship of God over all creation.
Adam’s world would move forward to consummation when time and space of this dispensation would become eternity. In Meredith Kiline’s word: “During this preconsummation (sic) earthly history the weekly Sabbath sign would point the way … and man would enter with joy into the eternal seventh day of the Creator’s Sabbath.” The institution of the Sabbath rest in paradise pointed forward to the eternal rest of the consummation. If Adam fulfilled the demands of the covenant of works, there was the promise of life beyond this world.
There was the threat of death if Adam did not fulfil his obligations under the covenant of works. To cite Louis Berkhof: “For Adam, under the covenant of works (before he fell in sin), heaven was a place he had to earn.”
At the tree of knowledge, Adam had to exercise prophetic and royal discernment between right and wrong in the light of God’s covenant.
He failed in his mission, and forfeited his position as king, priest, and prophet.
This tragic background takes us to the introduction of Mark’s Gospel.
Christ, the Second Adam
The Gospel of Mark introduces Jesus as “Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1). ‘Jesus’ is his name—Saviour (Mt 1:21), ‘Christ’ is his title and office—the Messiah, and ‘Son of God’ describes his deity. He is king, prophet and priest.
The second Adam introduced a new creation. Like at the beginning (Gen 2:7), the Holy Spirit was at work; He came upon Mary and she conceived (Lk 2:35) and He announced Christ as the Son of God (Mk 1:11). Mark’s Good News is about the Second Adam!
Did Christ as the Second Adam still need to meet the stipulations of the covenant of works? The fulfilment of the probation under the covenant of works would give Adam entitlement to the eternal Sabbath rest.