23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" 25 He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."
27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." (Mark 2:23-27)
Where is the idea of Sabbath today? It is but a memory to some, forgotten by most, and confined to about an hour or two a week by the devout in America. Sabbath means rest- and we are a restless society that does not acknowledge the God of time. We think that our time is our own, instead of thinking it is a gift of God. There is a happy medium between the Sabbath of three generations ago when people wouldn't wash dishes or go to a movie on Sundays, and today when the Sabbath has been obliterated. I believe that one of the real reasons for the decline of the Church in America today is this total disobedience of Sabbath. We will not stop for God- or anyone else. The Recession has not even made us rethink our ways about the Sabbath. In the passage above Jesus loosens up the concept of Sabbath. The Westminster Confession talks about allowing deeds of necessity (like eating grain) and mercy (like visiting and caring for others) on the Sabbath.
Prayer: Help me, Lord, take the Sabbath seriously. Help me to acknowledge that my days on this earth are a gift from you, and to give back a day to you. Help me to find my peace, my rest in you.
John Calvin abridged: The keeping of the Sabbath is a holy thing, but not as they imagined- so that they couldn't lift a finger without their conscience trembling. It was hypocrisy that made them exact about trifling things, but spared themselves in gross superstitions. There was no precept that famishing people should rather die than satisfy their hunger. The only reason for keeping the Sabbath was that we may sanctify ourselves and worship God truly; and that free from worldly occupations- we would be more able to gather together in our assemblies. They blamed Christ for remaining silent and allowing his disciples to gather grain.
See article in NY Times about University study on Sabbath breaking and happiness: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/sunday-shopping-linked-with-less-happiness/ Note the Same study found a significant rise in alcohol and drug abuse/