Summary: Who said Sunday is the new Sabbath? Roman Emperor Constantine did in 321 A.D. The Roman Catholic Church did. The Church of England did, and the Puritans did. But the Bible never did.
The wife of a man who died assumed they had plenty of money so she gave him a very nice funeral and a fancy tombstone that said, “Rest in Peace.” However, when the estate was settled she learned he had wasted all their money on gambling and bad investments. This made her so angry she took the little money she had and added three words to the tombstone. The new tombstone said: “Rest in Peace … Until I Come!”
You don’t need a tombstone to rest in peace; you only need Jesus.
The Hebrew word for rest is Shabbat. There are no vowels in the Hebrew language, so the word Shabbat is comprised of three Hebrew letters: Shin, Beit, and Tav. In this message we’re going to see what Jesus taught about the Sabbath Day.
Sabbath is one of the most misunderstood topics in the Bible. I average several emails a year from people who ask me one of two questions: (1) Why don’t we obey the Fourth Commandment that says, “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy?” The other question is: (2) When did we change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday?
In the last message I talked about the religious whiners who followed Jesus around criticizing everything He did and said. In this passage, they whine about how Jesus didn’t observe the Sabbath the way they thought it ought to be observed.
Mark 2:23-28. “One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’ He answered, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.’ 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.’”
How much rest are you getting? Do you ever tired and stressed out? If you do, you’re like most Americans. Americans are burning the candle at both ends. Someone wrote:” This is the age of the half-read page; a quick hash and a mad dash; The bright nights with the nerves tight; the plane hop and the brief stop; the lamp tan in a short span; the big shot in a soft spot; the brain strain and the heart pain; the cat naps ‘til the spring snaps; then the fun’s done.”
If that describes your life, then you need to discover the power of the Sabbath. When you do, you’ll enjoy the REST of your life. In this message I want to offer three quick theological points in order to hurry to the final, practical point about how you and I should practice the Sabbath. So, I need you to listen quickly so we can get to the good stuff!
1. Christians are not required to follow the Jewish Sabbath rules
There are some groups who follow Jesus, but they meet on Saturday, and even follow the Old Testament dietary rules. They don’t eat pork or catfish. Some of them judge those of us who worship on Sunday. They say we’re wrong, and that Sunday worship is actually the mark of the beast.
There is nothing in the New Testament that even suggests we should keep the Sabbath rules. This attitude isn’t new. Remember, there were people in the early church called “Judaizers.” They demanded that Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians. The men had to be circumcised, they had to refrain from eating certain foods, and they had to obey the Sabbath and all the Jewish festivals.
If you’re ever confronted by someone who says you should worship on Saturday and obey the dietary rules of the Old Testament, take out your Bible and show them this verse:
“Having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross...Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath Day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:14, 16-17)
The Old Testament regulations were only a shadow—the substance is Christ. Jesus claimed to be the Lord of the Sabbath. That means He’s the expert about it. Jesus didn’t come to cancel the Old Testament law; He came to fulfill it. Every single Old Testament law must now be examined under the Lordship of Jesus. People often struggle when they read passages from Leviticus prescribing very strict dietary and personal hygienic laws. I am regularly asked why we “don’t obey the Bible” and follow those rules. Short answer: as New Testament Christians, we are no longer bound by the ceremonial and civil laws Israel lived under.