Summary: Keeping the Sabbath is all about walking with Him; it’s about submitting to His lordship. So, whatever else it means to “keep Sabbath”, this we can be sure of: Jesus is the reason, Jesus is the focus, Jesus is what it’s all about.
The Lord of the Sabbath
Scripture Text: Luke 6.1-10
As a young man, there were several older gentlemen that I had high regard for - the life-witness, their faith, their devotion to God. But-as-a-young-person, …I always found some things about them that was-curious. One of the things that I-thought was peculiar was the way they observed the Sabbath. They made no-bones about-the-fact that come-Sunday, …they didn’t watch any t.v. (no football, no basketball, no NASCAR); …and they wouldn’t even read the newspaper! Sunday’s were all-about worshipping and resting.
But, for them, …abstaining from all-other-activities was as-much-a-part of observing the Sabbath-day, …as-was, going to church. And I remember thinking, that was a little odd. How was watching-a-little-football, …or reading the Sunday paper ~ …how would that be breaking Sabbath?
Now, before we go any further, …let me say that these gentlemen were no-legalists. They didn’t make and keep rules just-for-the-sake of making-and-keeping rules! But, somehow, …some-way, …these-things had-become commitments for them ~ …deeply-personal-commitments that emerged in the course of living-and-applying his faith to day-to-day, …week-to-week living.
And that’s what we wanna do! Having faith, …believing in God, …trusting that God has forgiven us through the redemptive work of Jesus: …that’s one-thing. But what about life-and-living? What difference does it make in how I spend my days, …my life-energy, …how my time is organized? That’s-what Sabbath is all-about! We don’t keep Sabbath in-order to-be a Christian; …But we keep Sabbath because we already-are Christians! In-other-words, …the motivation, …the impulse to observe the Sabbath does not arise from a desperate-hope to-be acceptable to God; …but it springs from a heart of gratitude that we have already-been accepted by God!
With all-that-said, …we might wanna explore what the Sabbath is all about. What was God thinking when He established a Sabbath-day? Why should we observe Sabbath? What does it mean to “keep the Sabbath”? ~ These are important for every Christian to work-out because Sabbath-keeping is a big-deal! This is no-small-matter. If you looked up in a Bible-concordance, how-many-times the word “Sabbath” appears in Scripture, …you would find it 151 times! 94-times in the Old Testament; …and 57-times in the New Testament. I’m thinkin’ that it was pretty-important to the biblical writers!
If you were to look at the Ten Commandments, …you would find the command: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Ex. 20.8). It is the fourth commandment. Many biblical-scholars have pointed-out that the first 3 commandments deal with our relationship with God (No other gods; no idols; don’t mis-use God’s name); …and the last 6 commandments deal with our relationships with one another (don’t murder, don’t lie, don’t commit adultery, etc.) But, the 4th commandment ~ the commandment-dealing-with Sabbath ~ …the 4th commandment is-like a bridge. It connects the first-three-commandments with the last-six-commandments. The commandment to observe-the-Sabbath deals-with both, our relationship to God, …and our relationships with God’s people. I’m thinkin’ that it is pretty-important to God to include it in the list of ‘Top Ten” commandments!
Another reason why it’s an-important-thing for us to practice is because by-the-time Jesus stepped onto-the-stage of human-history, …Sabbath-keeping was one of the central-characteristics of what it meant to be God’s-people. You can’t read the gospels without noticing that Sabbath-keeping is an issue that keeps-coming-up …Over-and-over again, Jesus is answering questions, …and providing new-teachings, …and volleying-complaints: …and the Sabbath is one of the main-points-of-argument between himself and the religious-leaders of the day. If Sabbath-keeping was something Jesus talked-about a-lot, …I’m thinkin’ it’s a pretty-important thing for us to understand!
You might-be-wondering why we’re even talkin’ about keepin’-the-Sabbath! Some-here may-be-thinkin’ to-themselves that Sabbath-keeping is a pretty simple-concept; …you learned about it in Sunday School, when you were seven! Others-may-be-thinkin’ that Sabbath-keepin’ is such an out-of-date concept; …and maybe you think we’re wasting-our-time talkin’ about something that doesn’t have any-relevance to Christian-living in the 21st century!
Well… I hope by-now that we’ve begun to see that Sabbath-keeping is a big-deal. It was a big-deal to the biblical-writers. It’s been a big-deal to God’s people for thousands-of-years. And, it’s a big-deal to God. So, maybe we should give it the attention it deserves!
Let me make a couple of observations as-to-why it’s important for us to wrestle-with this topic.
#1 ~ we are immersed in a culture in which the value of life and time is based on productivity and accomplishments. We cut-our-“eye-teeth” in this culture and it has shaped us and our underlying-value-system in ways that we’re not-always-conscious-of. All-this-stuff about what-makes-life meaningful and worthwhile ~ …a-lot-of-the-way-we-think-about that-stuff is significantly-shaped-by our culture’s emphasis on production and successes. That’s why it hurts so-badly when we lose our job, …or when we fail at some project, …or when we feel-like we’re not really contributing. But-anyway, …that’s the first-reason why it is so-important for us to wrestle with the commandment to keep the Sabbath: …there’s something in us that puts more-emphasis on cultural values (work, production, success, accomplishment) ~ …something within-us puts more-emphasis on cultural-values, than-on godly-values (Sabbath, rest, worship). And-so, …to take-time-out to focus our thoughts-and-our-hearts on Sabbath-keeping is a way for us to allow the Spirit of God to plow-up the hard, compacted soil of heritage and cultural-values ~ …some of which is so-deeply-imbedded that we don’t-even-realize that-it’s-there!