(Ver 1.3) This is now “Part 3” of a series of lessons on Understanding the Purpose of the Law. If you have not read this series from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start your reading with “Part 1” first. What is the Sabbath? Today’s lesson is a response to a readers question about keeping the Sabbath Holy. To many traditional Jewish people the Sabbath is a day of rest on Saturday. To many Christians it is a day of worship on Sunday. To many Muslims it is a Holy Day on Friday. So what are we to do as Christians on this day? Are Christians supposed to view the Sabbath like Jews or Muslims? This is a potentially controversial subject, because many view this subject using extremes. This is traditionally the downfall of the Jewish people. They were so consumed with their attempts to please God that they invented pages of rules to make sure that no one ever violated God’s law to keep the Sabbath Holy. However, Jesus said “Your traditions make the Word of God null and void” (Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:13). If you read the Gospels closely you should see that the main reason why the Jews crucified Jesus, was for the Sabbath conflict that existed between Jesus and their self imposed Sabbath rule violations. They refused to believe a man was from God who would violate their traditional Sabbath rituals. Jesus was criticized more for doing things on the Sabbath than anything else that He did. Of course Jesus purposely violated their rules to demonstrate the Law Giver was standing before them. Jesus was not required to keep their rules, they were required to keep His rules and they were doing a very poor job at that. In Luke 6 Jesus is standing before the scribes and the Pharisees and they are watching him closely to see if He was going to violate their Sabbath rules so that they could accuse Him. Jesus turned to them, looked at them and asked them a very direct question. Jesus asked “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil on the Sabbath?” You can clearly see Jesus was making a point that they could not answer. Jesus was saying that their definition of work was NOT His definition of work. You can also see that Jesus infers that doing “Good” was more important than their idea of a law of not working. Jesus confronted this issue with the Jews repeatedly and revealed to them many new things that they refused to see:
Luk 13:15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
Here Jesus calls the Jews hypocrites because of their Sabbath rules. You can clearly see that giving your farm animal some water was a good thing that was acceptable in the eyes of God even if this could be considered to be work by many people. So is doing Good a job or work? Not according to God! Jesus clearly calls religious people who think their external rules are the solution for keeping God’s law hypocrites. Yet people in some churches today still have this same attitude.
Luk 6:2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?
So the Jews were consumed by trying to obey the letter of the law and they failed to recognize the one that gave them the law was standing before them speaking to them. So what was Jesus’ response to this question?
Luk 6:3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;
You see the Pharisees saw the disciples of Jesus going through a corn field and picking ears of corn to eat and according to the Jewish rules this was a violation of the Law of Moses. Anyone can clearly see that this is obviously a laborious task to pick corn in a field. I do not know if you can read sarcasm or not, but that was a sarcastic remark I just made. Of course it wasn’t really work it was just their idea of what the Law of Moses said. To the disciples they were hungry and saw food and went and got it. It is really not that complicated and Jesus told them, “Didn’t you read what David did”?
Luk 6:4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?
Jesus looking at the Pharisees told them that David violated the law and entered into the temple to eat that which was reserved for only the priests of God and David also gave to the others that were with him. It is funny that God, who was standing before them, did not strike David dead for violating this law, did He? Normally, if even a priest entered into a Holy place with sin they fell down dead and had to be dragged out with a rope that was tied around their ankle. So obviously God’s view of things is different than man’s view of things, aren’t they?
Luk 6:5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
So God’s point is that He is the one that gave the law of the Sabbath, He is still Lord of the Sabbath and only He determines what is acceptable to do and not you. In other words you are not God so do not pretend to be God and make rules up that define what is acceptable on a Sabbath and what is not acceptable on a Sabbath. This is what got the Jews in the major hot water that they were in and we have some Christians in the world today trying to do the same.
Here is the other side to the problem of trying to keep the Sabbath Holy today as a Christian. God says in the Bible that “NO FLESH shall be justified by keeping the LAW” (Acts 13:39). If keeping the Sabbath Holy is the fourth commandment and it is impossible for any man to be justified by keeping it then what are we to do as Christians? That is a really good question. I believe that we should be doing what Jesus did. If Jesus did anything on the Sabbath, we should be doing the exact same things. Jesus spent a lot of time going about teaching and preaching the Word of God and healing those that were oppressed of the devil. According to the Bible this was God doing Good in our world (Acts 10:38)! So doing GOOD is what the church should be doing on the Sabbath and every other day of the week. So everywhere you go and in everything that you do it should be in making an effort to do good for someone that needs good to be done to them or for them in the world. This is what I believe the Bible teaches us about the keeping of the Sabbath. I’ll give you an example, one day I was walking through a mall with my uncle and my son. We came upon a little boy that was crying alone in the middle of the mall. We could have kept walking but I decided to stop and asked him what the matter was. It seems that the child had gotten lost from his mother and was scared because he couldn’t find her. So I called to the nearest store clerk and asked them to call mall security to help find the mother. The young child was eventually reunited and there was a happy ending. So what if I had not decided to do this good deed? I could have hoped that someone else would have come along and done it. Or a bad man could have potentially come along and taken advantage of the situation and this child could have never been heard from again. So what would you have done? What is your definition of doing good? Jesus gave us an example of doing good in the story of the Good Samaritan. You can see in this story that some passed by the wounded man that was hurt and kept going. Those that passed by were a “Priest” and a “Levite” two religious zealots who would not be willing to lift a finger on the Sabbath to help even a hurt man. But, Jesus said the Samaritan came by and helped this man and made an concerted effort to do something good for him. Jesus praised the Samaritan and put down the priest and Levite. Who was justified in the eyes of God that day? It certainly was not the Jewish religious leaders?
Today we have many people in churches trying to do what the Jewish religious leaders did and they are looking for ways to accuse other Christians of violating their Sabbath rules. However, the Bible says “I am Holy so you be Holy” (1 Peter 1:16). So observe what Holy God does on the Sabbath and then do likewise. Be led by the Spirit of God to do good and you will see that God may praise you someday as being a Good Samaritan also. If you disagree you should take it up with God and not me, for I did not write the Bible. God Bless!