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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

7/13/11- The Sabbath was Meant for Good

 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 man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
(Mark 2:23-3:6)

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (
Isaiah 58:13,14)

(Disciples Pick Grain- Pieter Coeke Van Aelst 1502-50)

Thoughts: There is a lot about how Jesus kept the Sabbath in the New Testament.  It is clear that Jesus honored the Sabbath.  He just didn’t honor it with a long list of rules of things not to do.  He said here He is Lord of the Sabbath- and that indicates two things- one that He saw Himself as the one who instituted and rules over how the Sabbath should be kept; and that the Sabbath is still important- for He is not Lord over nothing.
Jesus saw the Sabbath as not a bunch of rules but a gift to us.  It helps us to rest so we are not slaves to our work or money; The Sabbath helps us to take time for God in worship- setting our priorities right; The Sabbath is not broken by deeds of necessity (oxes in ditches or feeding ourselves).  It is not broken when we show mercy to others (encouraging, visiting, and healing the sick).  Our homes and souls are healed when we take time together to stop and worship God. 

Stephen Covey in his bestseller, The Habits of Seven Highly Effective People speaks of the need for renewal.  He tells the old story, “You come upon someone in the woods working ferishly to saw down a tree.  “What are you doing?” You ask.  “Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply, “I’m sawing down the tree.”  “You look exhausted!  How long have you been at it?”  “Over five hours,” He returns, “and I’m beat. This is hard work.”  “Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen the saw?”  The man says emphatically, “But I’m too busy sawing!”

            We can sharpen our saw physically by taking time to exercise and paying attention to diet.  We can sharpen the saw mentally by educating ourselves and watching what we read/see and educating ourselves.  We sharpen ourselves socially by purposefully and attentively interacting with people- in the church we call that fellowship.  But we sharpen ourselves spiritually by putting God first, and that means taking time for God.  The Sabbath is God’s reminder that we are to take time for Him.

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