Summary: Practicing the Sabbath religiously is still something that is common in certain faith families, but I think mostly we ignore the idea. Getting the Sabbath right is essential for our mental, spiritual, and physical well being.
Getting the Sabbath Right
As a young Christian I was taught that all of the Ten Commands had been repeated and taught by Jesus - except one. Keeping the Sabbath day holy. When I preached out in the country during my Bible college days I encountered a different belief. The wonderful people I knew then would not allow me to play cards with friends, go fishing, or even to do any kind of work. “Sunday Work will come to no good.” What was allowed was excessive eating of country cooking at the dinner table, naps, and watching wrestling on the TV.
Practicing the Sabbath religiously is still something that is common in certain faith families, but I think mostly we ignore the idea. Getting the Sabbath right is essential for our mental, spiritual, and physical well being. The Sabbath was certainly a sticking point in the ministry of Jesus, as we see in today’s text. We have two Sabbath Stories.
Luke 6:1-11, NLT
One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain.
2 But some Pharisees said, “Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”
3 Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry?
4 He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.”
5 And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.”
6 On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching.
7 The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
8 But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward.
9 Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”
10 He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!
11 At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.
1. How did the Pharisees Wreck the Sabbath?
By creating a conundrum of restrictive laws beyond the Word of God. Sabbath is a Hebrew word meaning ‘rest’ or ‘cease’. Instructions regarding the Sabbath form a central component to the system of law of ancient Israel.
The Sabbath pre-dates the Law of Moses, with regulations about gathering a double portion of manna on the 6th day. We are familiar with The principle of Sabbath rest that is expressed in the Ten Commands.By the time we get to the New Testament, the Sabbath had evolved into a maze of rules and regulations that were difficult to follow.
By criticizing and punishing those who did not follow their restrictive laws.
By focusing on individual behavior rather than on the Creator
By disallowing good actions and allowing suffering / hurt to continue.
By using humanly created Sabbath laws to try to destroy the work of Jesus?.
By making themselves Lord of the Sabbath instead of the Lord!
2. JESUS Offers Sabbath Correction
By placing human needs over religious creeds. (6:1).
By following ancient examples of observing the Sabbath (6:2-4) David’s eating the bread from the temple with the cooperation and blessing of the priest was the example that Jesus chose to use. The Sabbath was not arbitrary … just obey it no matter what … it related to human needs and practices.
By asserting his authority over the practice of the Sabbath (6:5)
By not being intimidated by his critics (6:6-7)
By giving grace to the hurting as an act of compassion (6:8-11). The need of the man with the disability is not the concern of the Pharisees and teachers of the law.
He is simply a tool in their escalating battle against the new teacher, Jesus, who has won a great following and has cast the members of the religious hierarchy in an unfavorable light.
3. How Can We Place Value on the Sabbath Today?
By seeing the value of rest.
By seeing the value of connecting with God.
By seeing the value of margin.
By seeing the value of ancient sabbath traditions (not laws)
By seeing the value of trusting God more than ourselves. If he rested…
“We have become a culture that sleeps less, compulsively presses the door-close button in elevators, opts for speed-dial on our telephones, and day-trades on the Internet. We multitask. Our attention spans have dwindled. We rely on the second hand on our watches and clocks. We absolutely hate to wait, and long to fit as much as we can in as little time as possible.” - James Gleick, Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything