The Sabbath

Matthew 12 1-8


As we look at the Sabbath, we do need to start at the beginning, literally.  In Genesis 2:1-3, God worked six days and on the seventh day he rested.  Did God need to rest from his work?  Was He tired?  I think not!  Nevertheless, he sanctified the seventh day as a day of rest.  Now we see its beginning and know that when God gave the law to Moses He commanded the nation Israel to continue to honor the Sabbath.

This passage starts with Jesus and His disciples walking through a grainfield.  Nothing wrong with that, but His disciples were picking the grain heads and eating them.  The Pharisees saw them and questioned Jesus as to the lawfulness of their actions.  In fact, the Pharisees were correct.  The letter of the law, in its strictest sense, forbids any labor on the Sabbath.  If they had they picked the grain on Friday and put it in their pocket, and then taken it out of their pocket to eat on the Sabbath, that would have been ok. The distinction is that harvesting the grain is work, but eating it is not.

Look at the way Jesus handles their questions.  He goes to the Scriptures, asking “Have you not read what David did?” Or, “Have you not read in the law…?”

God made the law.  He is the law-giver.   The laws are set by Him and upheld by Him.  We, being part of God’s creation, are under the law.  God, as the law-giver, is not.  And yet, even He follows the laws that He has set by His own authority.

Only two times has God worked outside His laws.  The first was when He stopped the sun in the sky to allow the Israelites to defeat an enemy.  See Joshua 10:12-15.  The second was the immaculate conception.  See Luke 1:34-35.  Some would add the resurrection, but I do not.  We are eternal beings. Sin caused our spiritual and physical death in accordance with God’s law.  So, God made a way for us to be resurrected: believers to life with God, and unbelievers to a life without God.  He, himself, paid our sin-debt.  In this way, the law is not broken, but fulfilled.

The Pharisees missed the point of the law of the Sabbath. It is not all about what you shouldn’t do, but about what you should do. It is not so much a Sabbath FROM work as it is a Sabbath FOR worship!  We, as Christians, do not observe the Sabbath.  We observe the Lord’s day.  Jesus came not to bring an end to the law, but to fulfill the law.  He provides that way for us to have fellowship with God.  He takes away our sin nature and implants His nature within us by giving us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. It is for this reason we celebrate the Lord on Sunday.


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