Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sabbath--What's the Point

Of the 10 Commandments the 1 that is not repeated in the NT is #4—“Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy.” We don’t worship on the Sabbath; we worship on the first day of the week, Sunday, because this is the Lord’s Day—remembering that Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday. The only mention of Sabbath in the NT other than what Jesus says is in Colossians 2:16 where Paul says that the OT festivals including Sabbaths are mere shadows of what is to come, “but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Today we have 2 stories in which some Pharisees accuse Jesus of Sabbath-breaking. Their accusations are that Jesus is working on the Sabbath. Jesus never argues as to whether or not what He is accused of constitutes “work”. Instead He says something different. He says, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,” and asks whether it is lawful to do good or harm on the Sabbath. In the first story, Jesus uses King David as an example. David’s authority as king allowed him to eat the showbread since his need was greater. Jesus is saying that He as Son of Man is King of the Sabbath. Jesus is the embodiment of the reign of God.
Jesus doesn’t use the work argument, because for Him, it’s not an issue whether picking wheat is work or healing is work or if He had chosen to do something else tha t was more obviously work. There is an extra biblical story found in an entire codex of manuscripts that many scholars think is accurate of Jesus. The story says that on the same day of the first incident, Jesus saw a man working on the Sabbath and said to him, “Man! If you know what you are doing, you are blessed. But if you do not know, you are cursed and a transgressor of the law.” Jesus is saying it isn’t wrong to work if your heart is right, but if your motives are wrong, it is wrong to work. Jesus is concerned not with work but with the purpose of the Sabbath.
We have to examine our hearts as to our motives for how we use the time set aside for rest. We are either guilty of consciously breaking the law or we are conceding to a Higher Power than the Law. In the Mark version of this story, Jesus says, “For the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The Sabbath was made for our benefit—rest. Jesus is our Sabbath rest. We rest in His finished work. Christ interprets Sabbath for us. Jesus wants us to rest in Him. It doesn’t have to be a certain day or a certain time. It doesn’t have to be done in a certain way. But we need rest in Jesus. It shouldn’t be work to rest, and the Pharisees had made it work, but Jesus gives true rest. Jesus says, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
And Jesus wants true worship. Again, Jesus is not concerned with forms. He said to the woman at the well, “The time is coming and is now come when the true worshippers will worship in Spirit and in Truth.” His response was in regard to her question about where is a legitimate place to worship. Jesus doesn’t care about location. He cares about our hearts. John MacArthur makes an interesting observation about the Pharisees and scribes that were accusing Jesus of Sabbath breaking. “They observed Sabbath law while plotting to murder the Lord of the Sabbath.” We find this at the end of the second incident. Verse 11, “They were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.” So much for Sabbath keeping! These folks had all the right forms, but they were not worshipping in Spirit and in Truth. Sabbath is worship—it is spending time with Jesus and giving Him the praise, honor, and glory that is due to Him. It is ceasing from work, our futile efforts to please God, and embracing God’s grace and forgiveness. Jesus is our rest because Christ set us free from the Law of Sin and Death. We can rest in the freedom that Christ brings to us.
Also in the second story, Jesus emphasizes that it is never the wrong day to minister to another’s need (or even our own need, as in the first story with the disciples eating). Also in this second story Jesus points out that to neglect the opportunity to do good is to incur the guilt of doing evil. James puts it this way, “The one who knows to do good and does not do it, to that person, it is sin.” Love is higher than Law. Jesus operates out of love. He said that He came to fulfill the Law not to abolish it. Notice how Jesus heals the man. All Jesus does is speak and tell the man to stretch out his hand. Jesus doesn’t touch the man or anything. There is nothing Jesus does that one of his accusers could call work! Again we are called to examine our hearts. Are we truly meeting need, or are we being self-serving. Are we doing good or justifying evil? Are we operating by love or merely by law?
To ask, “Is it lawful?” can give us safe boundaries, but we need to go further and ask, “Is it loving?” Sometimes the loving thing to do goes beyond the Law (example: by law you are required to report cases of physical abuse, but the loving thing to do is not just to report it, but support those trying to get out of abusive situations) and other times it stops short of the Law. The legal thing is not always the most loving thing to do (example: abortion is legal, but it is not loving; pornography is legal, but it is not loving—makes people into objects and commodities and destroys families). To operate out of love is to operate by the power of the Holy Spirit; for God is love. To operate out of love, we must spend time with Love, we must Sabbath in Jesus.
Is Jesus Lord of your Sabbath? Do you rest in Jesus?


Blogger Pastor Parato said...

I think this reads a lot better than I preached it.

March 3, 2010 at 2:25 PM


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