Monday, June 4, 2018

The Sabbath Day

"Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” (Luke 6:9).

Luke 6:1–11 provides us two stories about Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees over the Sabbath day. The fourth commandment instructs us to keep the Sabbath day holy, as a day of worship and rest. The Pharisees, however, had come up with all kinds of extra rules for Sabbath observance, which were nothing but human traditions.

The first encounter happened when Jesus and His disciples were going through some grainfields. They were hungry, and according to the Old Testament law, it was perfectly proper for them to pick grain to eat as they walked, though it would have been wrong for them to have gathered a basket (Deuteronomy 23:25). Ordinarily, this would have occasioned no comment, but it happened on a Sabbath, and the Pharisees objected to the fact that Jesus and His disciples were rubbing the ears together to get out the grain. This was “work,” according to the Pharisees.

Jesus rebuked this nitpicking by reminding them that on one occasion the High Priest had given David consecrated bread to eat when he was hungry, even though only the priests were to eat such bread (1 Samuel 21:6). The Sabbath was not a day for starving, but for rejoicing.

The second incident occurred while Jesus was teaching in a synagogue when He healed a man whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees admitted that it was permissible to save a life on the Sabbath, but any kind of healing that could wait for another day should not be done.

Jesus answered them by saying that works of mercy and healing were preeminently appropriate for the Sabbath. He put them on the spot with His question: “On the Sabbath is it lawful to do good or to do evil, to save a life or destroy it?” Obviously, the Pharisees did not dare answer this question, but after Jesus healed the man, they were furious and began to plot against Him.

Although the Lord’s Day is not quite the same as the Old Testament Sabbath, most churches hold that Sunday is a kind of “Christian Sabbath.” How do you keep the Lord’s Day? Find ways to be involved in works of mercy on that day, such as feeding the hungry, visiting shut-ins, calling on people in the hospital, and other charitable acts. Also, in your private time, when not in corporate worship, dedicate yourself to the study of God's word.