- Luke 6:1-2 On a certain Sabbath Jesus was walking through a field of ripe grain. His disciples were pulling off heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands to get rid of the chaff, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing that, breaking a Sabbath rule?” Then he said, “The Son of Man is no slave to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.”
- 6-8 On another Sabbath he went to the meeting place and taught. There was a man there with a crippled right hand. The religion scholars and Pharisees had their eye on Jesus to see if he would heal the man, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction. He knew what they were up to and spoke to the man with the crippled hand: “Get up and stand here before us.” He did. Then Jesus addressed them, “Let me ask you something: What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?”He looked around, looked each one in the eye. He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out—it was as good as new! They were beside themselves with anger, and started plotting how they might get even with him.
During this pandemic many of our life routines have been altered, none more than what our Sabbaths should look like as followers of Jesus? This is not a new challenge. It seems like mankind has been wrestling over the 7th day of the week ever since the Lord instituted this day to look different than all the other days during creation week. Genesis 2:3 says: “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” The seventh day took on the term Sabbath from the Hebrew “to cease” meaning to cease from the labor of every other day as a way to make it holy or separate from the other days. Yet the spirit of the Sabbath must certainly be more than just ceasing from work.
In the first version of the Decalogue (10 commandments) scripture says to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). In the second telling of the commandments given 40 years later, we are told to “observe” the Sabbath (Deuteronomy 5:12). What does observing it and making it holy mean?
Jesus drew the ire of the Pharisee’s when he chose to performed a miracle on the Sabbath. The Pharisees had instituted a complex system of 39 categories of forbidden activities that had been instituted as Sabbath laws. These laws were instituted for the purpose of making the Sabbath holy. The laws that were meant to guide and protect became oppressive, legalistic and lifeless.
The early church gathered together for their Sabbath on the first day of the week for teaching and prayer, breaking bread and fellowship. (Acts 2:42) This model of being together has been the outline for God’s church ever since. Unfortunately, if you look at Church history, the practice of the church has been very much like the Pharisee’s of Jesus’ time swinging from legalistic “do not’s” on the Sabbath to a liberal, “do whatever you want” attitudes for this day.
The schedule disruptions of Covid-19 that we face today provide us a perfect opportunity to “up our game” when it comes to our Sabbath day pause. Attending church, whether it’s live or online, should only be the warm up in observing our Sabbaths. Teaching and prayer, breaking bread and fellowship are all essential elements in making this day holy. Together as families, and maybe someday soon with friends, gathering for a meal, songs, and stories about the goodness of God will help us redeem our Sabbaths. How might this truth translate to your family? I trust that as you ask the Spirit of God for insight He will give you inspiration and direction for bringing new life into your family’s Sabbath.
Lord, may we be captured by your Glory. May these days you have given to us to pause and focus on you help us be captured by your beauty, majesty, holiness, design, intimacy, order and love for us as your people. Help us to redeem our Sabbath days and to make them holy, in Jesus name. Amen!