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Saturday, July 16, 2011

7/17/11 The Sabbath Means Freedom

1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.
9 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?”
10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.  (Luke 6:1-10)

(Jesus walks through grainfield on the Sabbath)

Thoughts:  The reason given for keeping the Sabbath was to remember that the people of God are set free from the slavery of work (specifically the slavery from Egypt).  The keeping of one day of rest in seven was a gift- a celebration that we no longer have to be slaves to this world, or to materialism or to productivity or success. 
    When Jesus came, he freed up the idea of Sabbath even more.  Instead of a negative thing in which we were boxed into restraint, Jesus saw the Sabbath as a time for spiritual peace.  So,  eating and meeting needs is allowed.  So, healing someone captivated by pain and deformity is allowed. 
     Jesus also makes the amazing statement that He is "Lord of the Sabbath."  That is a claim to divinity- to be the Lord over one of the Ten Commandments.  The Sabbath sets us free from slavery to work, materialism, the ratrace, and debt.  The Sabbath makes a claim upon our time and rhythm.  Jesus sets us free from slavery to the Sabbath.  He frees us to celebrate it in a positive light- with joy, rest, healing, deeds of mercy, smelling the roses, worship, resetting our priorities, renewing our relationships, strengthening our very soul.  He makes a claim upon the Sabbath's idea of time and rhythm- for He is Lord over both our work and our rest. 
     If Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, how much more appropriate that we celebrate it differently after His resurrection? 
    The Sabbath is meant to be a symbol and a deposit of our freedom.  When practiced, it actually is a setting free from work and worry, debt and commerce.  One day we will ultimately be set free to rest in peace.  Hebrews 4:1 says there remains a Sabbath's rest for the people of God.  One day we will be set free from the toil and labor or work.  It is not that we won't work in heaven, but we will find our work freeing and peaceful instead of burdensome and stressful.  The Sabbath is a gift for us- made for us, to remind us we are free.

Prayer: May we remember that you set us free indeed, Lord.  May we see a day of worship and rest not as an imprisoning thing, but a gift of freedom for us.  Help us to find rest here, and long for our ultimate resting with you.

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