Weekly Devotional: Lord of the Sabbath (11 in Sabbath and Rest series)

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:23—3:6 (NIV)

The Sabbath stories we read this week reveal how Jesus bursts through the rules and regulations of the teachers of the law. Over generations they had added layer upon layer of commands to those revealed by the Lord, so much so that their laws kept them from recognizing the needs of people. While they view Sabbath as a negative space – the time not to do things – Jesus sees it as a time for life and living.

Jesus smashes their restrictive, self-imposed rules. Citing the Old Testament, he says how King David ate the consecrated bread when there was a need – so the disciples picking the grains on the holy day are not doing wrong. And he renders his critics silent with his question about whether it is lawful to do evil or good on the Sabbath.

In this discussion of law and freedom, I’m not advocating we chuck out the commandments given to God’s people in the Old Testament. Rather, that we ask the Lord to shine his light on how we hold fast to his rules – are we, out of fear, being too rigid and literal in our interpretation? Or out of sloth or indifference are we not keeping to God’s way of living?

A personal example to consider: I try not to shop on Sunday, especially because my husband feels strongly about this topic. But one Sunday I was back in America with my family, and my sister and I wanted to find one more perfect gift to bless my mother on her birthday. After church we dashed into a nearby department store and found just the ring to give to her. I felt conflicted, but was grateful for the grace of the Lord who loves us and helps us to share his love.

Prayer: Father God, you made the Sabbath for us, and you are Lord over it. May you help me to embody your life and love each day. Amen.

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