Devotion for June 7, 2018

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” Mark 2:27

The Sabbath is good news! But many throughout history have made the Sabbath into more of an obligation and duty.

Sabbath is an Old Testament word for “stop.” For the Jewish believers of Jesus’ day, the Sabbath was a day to stop doing work. God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and on the seventh day He sabbathed–He stopped creating and rested (Genesis 2:2). In honor of God’s resting in creation and because God knows we need rest, all people are to observe a once-a-week day of rest called the Sabbath. The Sabbath was observed on Saturday in Jesus’ time. Today most Christians observe the Sabbath on Sunday, as a reminder that Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday, the first Easter.

The Third Commandment makes clear that all people are to “remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Part of keeping the day holy means to stop working. This cessation of work would have included things like reaping or harvesting. When Jesus and His disciples plucked grain and ate on the Sabbath day, the Pharisees noticed that this was a form of work. The Pharisees were sticklers for the laws of God, and often made the laws even more strict to try and protect faithful people from breaking them. But their good intentions turned the Sabbath into bad news.

Jesus set them straight: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). In other words, the Sabbath is not mainly about what we do for God. It’s mainly about what God does for us! This means the Sabbath is not only about the stopping of work. God commands that we stop working so He can get our attention. He wants our ears so He can deliver a message. The message is the Good News of Jesus. God has work to do for us, so He invites us to stop, listen, and receive. We pause from our daily work and routine so God can do His forgiving and saving work for us!

The best way for God to do His work for us (and in us) is in worship. When you gather to hear God’s Word proclaimed by a Pastor on Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays (or whenever (your Sabbath can be any day of the week now that Jesus has fulfilled all things), God works repentance and faith in your heart. God’s Word shows us our sin, and the sting of sin reveals that we could never work enough to make ourselves holy before God. And yet, God’s Word also shows how the Savior Jesus has done everything needed through His living, dying, rising, and reigning. Only the message of God’s work in Christ can deliver true and lasting rest and peace with God.

The Sabbath is Good News for you. Rest, receive, and rejoice in this gift of God.

Prayer: [Jesus said,] “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28