Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sunday isn't about Sabbath, don't make it so.

Luke 6:1-11 (ESV)
On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. [2] But some of the Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?" [3] And Jesus answered them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: [4] how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?" [5] And he said to them, "The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath."
[6] On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. [7] And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. [8] But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, "Come and stand here." And he rose and stood there. [9] And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?" [10] And after looking around at them all he said to him, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored. [11] But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

The Sabbath, I don’t know about you, I’m so used to breaking it I don’t give it half a thought. This last Saturday I came over to the church and worked for three hours. I always find it odd. I have a Mormon acquaintance that keeps asking me why I work so hard on Sunday when I should be resting, he asks smugly, believing that by doing this I break the Sabbath. Got news for you, Christians intentionally break the Sabbath every weekend. There is a reason we aren’t in a synagogue Friday evening, or on Saturday, that is the Sabbath. Quite frankly it is still the Sabbath, and if you are going to follow the law in regards to the Sabbath, than you ought to shut down Friday evening. This idea that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath is ridiculous. It is no more our Sabbath than it was the Sabbath for our Lord Jesus Christ. It is why Luther actually changed the wording of the ten commandments in his Catechism. It doesn’t say Sabbath in the German, but feiertag, which roughly translates, celebration day. And the way Christians keep Celebration Day holy is quite different than the rules regarding the right observation of the Sabbath.
The Jews had rules for the Sabbath. Work that was in itself harmless, perhaps even good was absolutely forbidden. They had so many rules for the observation of the Sabbath, that keeping the Sabbath became a chore. They made it work. It was supposed to be a day of rest. It became a day of legal wrangling, and everyone watching their back to make sure so and so didn’t see them take one too many steps. Some jerk actually sat around and made sure everyone else was doing what they were supposed to be doing, nothing. Of course, there were always those who had to work on the Sabbath, soldiers didn’t go off from watch and patrol. Priests had sacrifices to do, Rabbis had sermons to give. And if your donkey fell in a well common sense told you to go get him out.
Jesus started flouting the Sabbath early. He doesn’t break it, he just doesn’t observe any of the silly rules that had grown up around it. He won’t let others decide for him what is right and what is wrong. Christians can’t afford that. We can’t even let other Christians do that for us. For one thing, it is wrong to add to God’s law, just as wrong as it is to take away from God’s law. We let God decide what is right or wrong. Not man. Where Scripture is silent, we make every effort to remain silent. Where Scripture speaks we make every effort to understand completely. And then we apply it to our own lives in faith and love. Lest we become Pharisees who put their faith not in God’s Grace, but in the law and the works thereof, which never lead to salvation, but constantly betray us, because we are sinners.
Jesus, he flouts it, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. That is Jesus. He is the Son of Man, if you didn’t know. He is Lord of the Sabbath. Really he is saying I can do what I want here. If I want to heal a man on the Sabbath, then perhaps you ought to be more concerned with why it is that I have been able to heal the man at all, rather than with the fact that I am working on the Sabbath. It’s sort of like criticizing a donkey for not saying the right thing, one might marvel that the donkey is saying anything at all. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, not merely because he is God, but finally it is his Sabbath rest that will spell salvation for us all. It is his Sabbath rest ending with a Sunday resurrection that changes everything.
Yeah we break the Sabbath, quite intentionally. We realize Christ is our Sabbath rest, we won’t impinge on that by making up silly laws of observance like the Pharisees did. We won’t replace it with a different Sabbath, but we will have a celebration day, a feiertag, because there was an event that occurred on a Sunday so profound in the history of man, that we consider it worth celebrating every week. Declaring independence is worth once a year. Rising from the dead? That is worth every week. A celebration, not a Sabbath.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wonderful sermon on the CORRECT use of the Sabbath. Great explanation of the Law and Jesus' use of the Sabbath.

I wish to speak to you but am deaf and cannot call. Pls email me at: boxwoodmanor@yahoo.com
Will reblog to Compendium of Christian blogs

Sue J in NJ