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Jesus and the Sabbath

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"Call the Sabbath a Delight" Isaiah 58:13-14 | A Virtuous Woman
Photo Credit: Andreas Krappweis

Jesus and The Sabbath {Part Two}

Last week we discussed Part One {The Fourth Commandment} taking points from the book, 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life by Dr. Matthew Sleeth. I thouroghly enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it. Be sure to check out Part One to read more of my thoughts on this book published by Tyndale.

This week we are continuing that topic and looking at Jesus and the Sabbath. In Sleeth’s book he says:

The minute Jesus steps into his ministry, he stakes his claim on the Sabbath. Jesus declares himself both Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8) and the meaning of the day (Luke 4:21).

To walk with Jesus through the Gospels and watch him work is to see Sabbath restored to its original intent. On the Sabbath, he casts out demons (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37), heals scoliosis (Luke 13L 10-17), shrinks peripheral edema (Luke 14:1-6), cures blindness (John 9:1-34), feeds the hungry (Mark 2:23-28), unlocks paralysis of a hand (Matthew 12:9-14); Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11), and lowers a high fever (Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4;38-39). p. 50-51

The people had lost the why of keeping the Sabbath and focused solely on the how. Sleeth goes on to say:

… throughout his ministry, Jesus consistently brings us to the heart of the law. When the law says not to kill, Jesus ups the ante to “don’t be angry” (Matthew 5:21-22). The law says not to commit adultery, but Jesus says not to lust (Matthew 5:27-28). The law says not to covet possessions, and Jesus tells a rich young man to give everything away Matthew 19:21).

Jesus doesn’t throw out the law – he fulfills it. He is a compass pointing  to the intent behind the law. p. 53

Jesus never intended the Sabbath to be a burden. God gave us the Sabbath as a gift and he wants us to delight in it! The Bible says:

“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Isaiah 58:13-14 NLT

God calls us to delight in the Sabbath and to avoid pursuing our own interests on the Sabbath. He wants us to spend the day resting in His presence.

 Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time…

When we put slavish adherence to rules above God’s intention, we lose track of the bigger picture.

Of course, it’s also possible to go too far in the other direction and ignore the commandment altogether… While it is correct to assert that we are saved by grace alone, does grace nulify the intent of the Fourth Commandment? The church has always believed that a person can break any commandment and, through repentance and God’s grace, still get to heaven.

…But do not suppose for an instant that God was a fool for giving the commandments or that he doesn’t care when we break them. He did not send his only Son so that the intent of any of the Ten Commandments, including the Fourth should be discarded.

Jesus did not die on a cross so that we might ignore the intent of the law – including the intent of Sabbath. p. 57 – 58

I felt that Dr. Sleeth was right on so many points. However, I do believe he missed something when he said:

And that’s just it: the intent of the commandment – rest – is what is important. p. 58

Rest is important. We need rest – more than ever in today’s fast paced world. But is rest the only reason for keeping the Sabbath? Is that the only intent behind the law?

Let’s look at the commandment again:

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11

If the only intent of the Fourth Commandment was for me not to work on the Sabbath, then yes, rest would be all that really mattered, but right at the beginning of the commandment, we are called to keep it holy. Holy is the opposite of secular.

secular: adj.

  1. Denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis

What things would be considered secular? Here are some of my own ideas:

  • Music (not of a religious nature)
  • Television (not of a religious nature)
  • sports
  • eating out
  • cleaning the house

 So if my idea of a relaxing afternoon is to spend my time watching Hallmark movies… is that keeping the Sabbath holy? I’ll be looking more at how to keep  the Sabbath next week!

{call the sabbath a delight} Jesus and the Sabbath | A Virtuous Woman

If you’d like to read more about what I believe, here are a few of the articles I have written on this subject, part of the “If It Were Not So… Series”:

How has the Sabbath changed your life? How would you like the Sabbath to change your life? Do you think it’s hard to keep the Sabbath in our 24/7 world?

Free Printable 100 Ways for Making the Sabbath a Delight

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  1. Hi Melissa! On your recommendation last week, I purchased Dr. Sleeth's book and am in the process of reading it now. I'm definitely enjoying it as I'm still searching for what that Sabbath looks like in our family. Thank you for continuing to inspire me in this series. I hope you'll pay me a visit tomorrow as I link up to your From Chaos to Calm devotional again. Blessings! Jennifer
  2. I left this comment on another post, then accidentally deleted it. I'm not Adventist however I do believe God doesn't change so while overwhelmingly the church has decided to focus on the spiritual component of God's commands, there is a physical element. Have you ever heard anyone say, "Jesus is my rest"? Well, sure, but there is a physical/ literal component to Shabbat. It simply means "cease work". Rest is the result. How great that we get tangible instructions for holy living? A parallel that I use when talking about this debated topic is murder. Can I murder someone as long as I keep the spiritual aspect of this law/teaching and don't hate them in them my heart (as Jesus said we're not to do)? That is ludicrous, of course! There are two facets: the physical and the spiritual. Anyway, concerning the question about a spouse who doesn't want to keep the Sabbath... try this awesome website: torahclass.com; study together but he has to come to his own conclusions. I'd say prep for the special day early (with meals etc., do what you need to do) that way there aren't things perceived as lacking in the day, and you DO get your down time. Be an example, pray, and that (in my opinion) is about all you can do.

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