We now move to the New Testament where amongst the Jewish people the Sabbath is still kept and celebrated with the Pharisees having all sorts of rules about what can or cannot be down on the Sabbath, about what does and does not constitute work.
Jesus though is about to muck all of this up in the same way that in Matthew 5 he mucked up current understanding of most of the other commandments and declared himself to be the fulfilment of the law.
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."
3 He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven't you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one [a] greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' [b] you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
In these passages Jesus makes some pretty incredible statements regarding the Sabbath.
- Implies that he has authority at least as great as Mosaic Law, where the command to keep the Sabbath originated.
- Declares himself to be the Lord of the Sabbath.
- Announces that true rest (seventh day rest of dominion, fruitfulness, and relationship with God) can now be found in Him.
- True and lasting rest which the Sabbath only remembers and looks forward to can now actually be entered into through Jesus.
- He is the one that is actually going to bring the blessing that the Sabbath celebrates and looks forward to, into reality.
This is pretty major.
16So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Here again Jesus makes some pretty incredible statements regarding the Sabbath.
- Declares His father God, and himself to be at work.
- Analogy is to the work of the first six days of creation.
- They are working towards the seventh day, rest, restored relationship, creation as it was intended to be.
The passage goes on through to verse 30…
30By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
Revels that God will realize his goal for humanity in the person and work of the Son.
It is the son who will give life to the dead, judge all people, and bring honor to himself and to the Father.
He will realize the Sabbath by bringing an end to human rebellion and the reign of death, that destroyed the seventh day as it was meant to be.
He now participates with the Father and the Holy Spirit in a second great work of creation, begun after the fall, that will culminate we know in his return, judgment, and the re-creation of the havens and the earth to the seventh day state God always intended.
This is radical.
To be continued in a final post suggesting what the Sabbath means for us today…